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Wizards take on Mavericks Friday night in D.C.
Coming off three days rest, the Wizards (17-32) host the Mavericks (31-20) Friday night at 7:00 P.M. Washington looks to bounce back from a loss to the Warriors while Dallas, who will take on the Wizards without All-Star starter Luka Doncic, is coming off a loss to the Grizzlies.
Friday night will mark the Wizards debut of Shabazz Napier, who was acquired Thursday in a trade with the Nuggets. Napier will likely serve as the backup point guard behind Ish Smith. Jerome Robinson, acquired in a separate deal on Thursday, will not play Friday, but is expected to be available Sunday against the Grizzlies.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Ish Smith, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Ian Mahinmi
Mavericks: G – Jalen Brunson, G – Tim Hardaway Jr., F – Dorian Finney-Smith, F – Maxi Kleber, C – Kristaps Porzingis
Wizards: Thomas Bryant (right foot soreness), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Mavericks: J.J. Barea (left ankle sprain – questionable), Seth Curry (left knee tightness – questionable), Luka Doncic (right ankle sprain – out), Kristaps Porzingis (facial injury – questionable), Dwight Powell (right Achilles surgery – out)
Sheppard confident Wizards’ chemistry will ease the post-deadline adjustment process
Friday night against Dallas will be Washington’s first outing since a pair of deadline-day deals that brought in Jerome Robinson from the Clippers and Shabazz Napier from the Nuggets. Both are expected to play sizeable roles down the stretch of the season. In acquiring Robinson and Napier, the Wizards dealt Jordan McRae and Isaiah Thomas, who ranked second and third on the team in usage rate. There will certainly be an adjustment period for the Wizards’ flow on each end of the court, but GM Tommy Sheppard is confident that the group’s chemistry will ease the transition process.
“We’re going to try and give different players different looks, just to see what we can build on with that,” Sheppard said Thursday. “I think the most important thing for this roster the rest of this year is to continue to come together. This is a no-drama group. There are nights where things don’t happen your way, the scoreboard is in a different direction than what you want it to be, but young players playing is a good thing. These minutes are important. NBA games, you can’t replicate. Summer League doesn’t do it, preseason doesn’t do it. You only play in the NBA during the season.”
Wizards bigs set to shuffle with Bryant out
The Wizards announced Wednesday that Thomas Bryant (sore right foot) would miss the next few games and would be reevaluated on Monday, February 10. Bryant, who missed 20 games earlier this season with a stress reaction in his right foot, has played well for Washington since returning. In his last five games, Bryant averaged 15.6 points on 71.4% from the field and 8.0 rebounds per game.
The recent returns of Rui Hachimura and Mortiz Wagner to the lineup will ease the blow of losing Bryant for a few games. Hachimura and Wagner, each of whom missed 20-plus games over the last two months, made their returns Monday night against the Warriors. Both saw limited action, but showed few signs of rust. Hachimura, who will likely see a slight uptick in minutes with Bryant sidelined, scored 11 points on 5-8 (.625) shooting in his first game back from injury. Wagner, who was one of the most efficient offensive bigs in the league early in the season, scored eight points on 4-5 (.800) shooting in his return Monday night.
Luka-less Mavericks turn to Porzingis
Friday night’s game against Washington will be the Mavericks fifth straight without their star sophomore, Luka Doncic, who sprained his ankle during practice last week. Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game and is the only player in the league averaging 25-8-8 and was announced as an All-Star Game starter last month.
Despite how much Doncic does for Dallas, amassing the third-highest usage rate in the league (36.1) on the highest rated offense (115.9), the team has managed to stay afloat in his absence. The Mavericks have gone 2-2 in that time, led by a trio of standout performances from Kristaps Porzingis. In his last three games, Porzingis is averaging 35.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game and shooting 53.3% from the field – and has hit at least five threes in the last two games. Porzingis, who stands 7’3”, does most of his offensive work from the perimeter. Wednesday night against Memphis, seven of his 10 made field goals came from at least 20 feet. His range will pose a challenge for the Washington bigs, who will spend a good portion of the night defending outside the paint.