Preview: Wizards face Knicks Friday in preseason finale
Madison Square Garden | 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBCSW | Radio: 980 AM & Wizards App
The Wizards close out their four-game preseason slate on Friday night, taking on the Knicks at 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Wizards are coming off a loss to the Raptors in which Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined to hit 11 threes while the Knicks are looking to finish the preseason with a perfect 4-0 record.
|G||Spencer Dinwiddie||Derrick Rose|
|G||Bradley Beal||Evan Fournier|
|F||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||RJ Barrett|
|F||Kyle Kuzma||Julius Randle|
|C||Daniel Gafford||Taj Gibson|
Wizards: Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Rui Hachimura (personal reasons – out), Cassius Winston (left hamstring strain – out)
Knicks: Nerlens Noel (sore left knee – questionable), Mitchell Robinson (sore right foot – questionable)
A final tune-up opportunity before the regular season
Friday’s matchup marks the final preseason game before the start of the regular season and a valuable second look against an opponent the Wizards faced less than a week ago. While the teams’ most recent meeting was defined by a significant disparity in 3-point shooting – 46.2% on 52 attempts for the Knicks and 16.1% on 31 attempts for the Wizards – the rematch should provide Washington an easily discernable barometer on some of the progress it has made leading up to the start of the regular season next week.
“I think it’s important, once again, to see the carryover that we’re trying to get,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after practice on Thursday. “We can tweak and add some things as well. It’s our last chance to play with some things before it counts. Overall, let’s just get better. Let’s get better than we were the night before. That’s the most important thing.”
Beal looks to rebound from cold shooting night
Saturday’s preseason finale will be a bounce-back opportunity for Bradley Beal. Tuesday night’s game against the Raptors was an off-night for the All-NBA guard, who scored only seven points, shooting 1-11 (.090) from the field. He made up for the poor shooting performance in other areas, tallying five rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block. Most importantly for Washington, however: the Wizards were plus-12 in the 29 minutes Beal was on the court, despite the off-night from a scoring perspective. The team’s significantly improved depth gives the team plenty of wiggle room, both in terms of its rotations and flexibility – but also in allowing high-usage players like Beal room for a cold shooting night without the offense’s productivity falling off a cliff. Unseld Jr. has said throughout the preseason that one of the team’s goals would be to lessen its offensive dependency on Beal, who has averaged over 30 points per game in each of the last two seasons, allowing the star guard to be fresher late in games and late in the season.
Dinwiddie impressing in first games in D.C.
Spencer Dinwiddie has been steady for Washington throughout their first three preseason games. He’s played between 21-25 minutes each game, averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 assists per game, shooting 44.8% from the field and 40.0% from three – and his 114.9 offensive rating ranks first on the team among qualifying players.
“He’s a big guard,” Unseld Jr. said of Dinwiddie. “He’s got that advantage. He’s got burst and he can get to the rim. He’s got size to make plays, he can see the floor. He also has a good feel and understanding, not only of what we’re trying to run, but how it’s being defended. It gives him an advantage to see late plays…He really opens up a lot of things.”
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