Preview: Wizards take on Mavericks Saturday in Dallas

American Airlines Center | 8:30 p.m. | TV: NBCSW | Radio: The Team 980 & Wizards App

The Wizards are back at it on Saturday night, taking on the Mavericks at 8:30 p.m. at American Airlines Center. Washington is playing in the second game of a back-to-back, coming off a 101-99 win against the Thunder on Friday night. Dallas had lost three consecutive games before an overtime win against the Clippers in their last outing earlier this week.

G Aaron Holiday Luka Doncic
G Bradley Beal Tim Hardaway Jr.
F Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Dorian Finney-Smith
F Kyle Kuzma Kristaps Porzingis
C Daniel Gafford Willie Cauley-Stein

WIZARDS: Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury recovery – out), Spencer Dinwiddie (right knee injury maintenance - out), Rui Hachimura (not with team – out)

MAVERICKS: Jalen Brunson (left foot injury – questionable), Frank Ntilikina (right calf strain – out)

Wiz looking to sweep their back-to-back
The Wizards are looking to close out their third back-to-back of the season with a win on Saturday night. In Washington’s first instance of consecutive game nights, they won both, defeating the Celtics in Boston by nine points and the Hawks the following night in D.C. by 11. In their most recent back-to-back, however, the Wizards were swept by the Hornets and Heat. This back-to-back between Oklahoma City and Dallas features the shortest distance traveled between the two games for any of the three back-to-backs so far.

In both instances, starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie sat out the second of the two games as part of his right knee injury recovery plan put in place before the season started. The team announced on Saturday afternoon that Dinwiddie would once again rest in the second game of the back-to-back. With Dinwiddie out, it will likely be Aaron Holiday starting in his place once again.

Gafford defense provides a boost for the entire lineup
Daniel Gafford is coming off a game against the Thunder in which he recorded eight blocks, a new career high and the most recorded in a game in the NBA this season, reminding fans, teammates and opponents the type of impact that his length and explosive athleticism can have on a game. And while only Gafford gets credit in the box score and in the highlight reels, Bradley Beal spoke postgame about how Gafford’s approach to the game impacts the entire defense, not just as an energy boost, but from a schematic standpoint as well.

“When you see a guy blocking shots, you know he’s engaged on defense, you know he’s got your back,” Bradley Beal said postgame. “But your mindset is ‘OK, he shouldn’t have to do that every time.’…(Gafford) is the ultimate rim protector. That’s why we have him on the back line. Bigs are more or less the quarterback sometimes. They see plays develop sometimes before guards can.”

Doncic, Porzingis lead the way for well-rested Mavs
While the Wizards are playing less than 24 hours after their last game, the Mavericks are coming off a rare three days rest. Dallas has not played since their 112-104 overtime win over the Clippers on Tuesday in which Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 56 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists (nine of which were Doncic’s). Doncic, who entered the season as a leading candidate for MVP, is averaging 25.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game – the only player in league averaging 25-8-8. Porzingis ranks second on the team in scoring at 21.1 points per game and has scored 20-plus points in each of his last seven games. Despite their two 20-point-per-game scorers, Dallas has struggled to find much rhythm on the offensive end this season, coming into Saturday’s game ranking 17th in the league in offensive rating (106.6).

Tickets for all Wizards home games can be purchased HERE.


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