Preview: Wizards host Knicks in preseason matchup Saturday night

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GAME INFO: Capital One Arena | 7 P.M. | TV: NBCSW | Radio: 980 AM & Wizards App

On Saturday night, the Wizards host their first home game of the 2020-21 preseason, taking on the Knicks at 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena. Both teams are playing in their second of four preseason games – and will face off again on Friday, October 15 in a final tune-up game before the start of the regular season.

Wizards: Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Rui Hachimura (personal reasons – out), Cassius Winston (left hamstring strain – out)

Knicks: Julius Randle (personal reasons – out), Mitchell Robinson (sore right foot – out)

Avdija, Caldwell-Pope set to debut
After sitting out the Wizards’ first preseason game on Tuesday night in Houston, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Deni Avdija are each expected to suit up for the first time this season. Caldwell-Pope, starting his eighth season in the NBA, was acquired in early August in the five-team trade that also netted Washington Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Aaron Holiday. Coaches and teammates have spoken throughout camp about how impactful a presence Caldwell-Pope can be, bringing veteran leadership and championship experience to the locker room and a flexible three-and-D skillset to the court.

Avdija will see his first action since suffering a hairline fracture in his fibula in an April game against the Warriors. The Wizards’ sophomore was limited throughout most of training camp, but put in his first full practice sessions earlier this week ahead of his debut.

“He’ll get an opportunity to play,” Unseld Jr. said on Friday. “I think we’ll be mindful of his minutes and the stretches that he runs, just to protect him from himself at this point. He’s chomping at the bit. He wants to get after it…We have to be mindful of where he is as far as his conditioning.”

“When you have that much time away from basketball, it gives you time to think about a lot of things,” Avdija said Friday after practice. “It gave me a lot of motivation to rehab and come back better than ever…We made it. I’m happy to be here, honestly.”

Deni Avdija

Wizards bigs look to follow up on strong preseason debut
Among the bright spots for the Wizards in their preseason opener against the Rockets was impact performances from Daniel Gafford and Montrezl Harrell in the frontcourt. Gafford got the start, scoring 10 points on 5-5 (1.000) shooting to along with six rebounds in only 18 minutes of action. Harrell came off the bench, finishing a point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds in 20 minutes. Gafford did all his scoring at the rim, including four dunks and a layup. Earlier this week, he spoke about the importance of motion in the team’s offense and how his pick-and-roll chemistry with the Spencer Dinwiddie and Bradley Beal was improving every day.

“Getting the guards downhill is always a good thing for me because if I can put as much attention on the rim as possible, bringing guys in, it opens up the floor,” he said. “With the lob, you can throw it anywhere with me.”

Randle out Saturday
The Knicks announced on Friday that they would be without Julius Randle (personal reasons) for Saturday’s preseason matchup. Randle led the team with 20 points and nine rebounds in New York’s preseason opener and is coming off a season in which he averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game and was named All-NBA. New York will also be without Mitchell Robinson (sore right foot) in the frontcourt.

Tickets for the Wizards’ two home preseason games – and all games this season – can be purchased HERE.