Preview: Wizards host Mavericks Saturday with Bertans, Smith set to return
The Wizards are back at Capital One Arena on Saturday night, hosting the Mavericks at 7:00 P.M. in what will be Washington’s final game before embarking on its longest road trip of the season. Washington is coming off a loss to the Pistons on Thursday while Dallas will be playing in the final game of a five-game road trip and the second game of a back-to-back. The Mavericks defeated the Knicks 99-86 on Friday night.
The Wizards will be without Bradley Beal (right hip contusion), who will miss his fourth consecutive game, and Rui Hachimura (right shoulder tightness). Garrison Mathews and Davis Bertans will move into the starting lineup.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Garrison Mathews, F – Deni Avdija, F – Davis Bertans, C – Alex Len
Mavericks: G – Luka Doncic, G – Josh Richardson, F – Jalen Brunson, F – Dorian Finney-Smith, C – Boban Marjanovic
Wizards: Bradley Beal (right hip contusion – out), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Daniel Gafford (right ankle sprain – out), Rui Hachimura (right shoulder tightness – out)
Mavericks: Willie Cauley-Stein (health and safety protocols – out), Maxi Kleber (left leg contusion – out), Kristaps Porzingis (right knee injury recovery – out), JJ Redick (right heel soreness – out), Tyrell Terry (personal reasons –out)
Bertans, Smith set to return to action
The Wizards and Mavericks have not yet met this season, with both of their scheduled matchups taking place in the final six weeks. Their last meeting, a 119-118 Washington win, came down to a buzzer-beating layup by Bradley Beal with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. The Wizards were led by Beal, Davis Bertans and one of the team’s best 3-point shooting performances of the last few years. They shot 19-38 (.500) from deep, one of seven games in team history in which they’ve hit at least 19 threes, all of which have come since January of 2019.
With both Beal (right hip contusion) and Bertans (right calf strain) missing games recently, the Wizards have struggled to replicate the consistent 3-point shooting that carried the offense through last season and the early weeks of this season. Washington’s shooting struggles came to a head on Thursday night in Detroit when the team shot just 5-19 (.263) from 3-point range and 6-19 (.316) from the free throw line. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said after the that he did not want to make excuses for the team’s poor performance, but that there was reason for optimism with regard to players returning from injury. On Friday, the team announced that Bertans would return to the lineup on Saturday after missing seven games and that Ish Smith, who missed the last 24 games with a right quadriceps strain, would also be available. Bertans will provide a scoring jolt and create spacing for the Wizards’ offense while Smith adds much-needed depth the team’s backcourt.
Lopez doing it all for shorthanded Wizards
Robin Lopez enters Saturday’s game against the Mavericks coming off his two highest-scoring games of the season. Against Charlotte, Lopez recorded his third double-double of the year, totaling 16 points and 11 rebounds. Against Detroit, he grabbed just two boards, but tied his season high with three blocks and dished out three assists, his second-highest total of the season. In those two games, Lopez leads the Wizards with 71.7% true shooting percentage, 8.1 percentage points higher than the next-closest qualifying player on the team. With newly acquired center Daniel Gafford missing time due to a right ankle sprain, Lopez’s ability to impact the game in multiple ways is vital for the shorthanded frontcourt.
Luka leads rolling Mavericks
After a stretch of nine losses in 11 games in late January, the Mavericks have been on a tear. Since February 6, Dallas is 16-7 and ranks fifth in the NBA with a 5.9 net rating. Since March 1, they’ve earned wins over the Spurs, Nuggets, Clippers, Blazers and Celtics. Dallas is led by All-Star point guard Luka Doncic, who is averaging 28.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game, one of just three players in the league averaging at least 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists this season. Against the Knicks on Friday night, he totaled 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.