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Wizards in Orlando to take on Magic
The Wizards continue their road trip in Orlando on Friday night against the Magic at 7:00pm. This will be the first of four matchups between the division opponents, including another matchup on Monday in D.C. The Wizards have won eight of the last 10 matchups in Orlando and 12 of the last 13 games in the nation's capital.
Amway Center | 7:00 p.m. | NBC Sports Washington + | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – John Wall, G – Bradley Beal, F – Otto Porter Jr., F – Markieff Morris, C – Dwight Howard
Magic: G – D.J. Augustin, G – Evan Fournier, F – Wes Iwundu, F – Aaron Gordon, C – Nikola Vucevic
Magic: Jonathan Isaac (sprained right ankle – out), Timofey Mozgov (sore right knee – out)
Keys to victory
Ten games into the season, there’s no doubt that two things need to improve for the Wizards to turn the 2018-19 season around. First, the Wizards need to play 48 minutes of solid defense. In Dallas, the Wizards gave up 70 points in the first half, but then played much better defense in the second half, even starting the third quarter with nine straight stops. The Magic enter Friday’s game 29th in points per game (101.3), 28th in field goal percentage (42.9%), and 27th in 3-point percentage (31.2%). They also take the fewest free throws per game in the NBA at 17.9. Orlando presents a good opportunity to play solid defense for 48 minutes like the team did against the Knicks on Sunday.
The second key for the Wizards is shot-making; the team is only shooting 44.0% this season overall (eighth worst in the NBA) and 31.3% from deep (fifth worst). Washington is only making 37.6% of open shots, which is third worst in the league, and only 32.4% of open 3-pointers, fourth worst. For perspective, the Wizards made 46.0% of open shots last season, fourth best in the NBA, and 40.3% of open 3-pointers, seventh best. The Wizards had great looks throughout the game against the Mavericks on Tuesday, but missed a lot of open 3-pointers. Still, Otto Porter Jr. was able to get going (7-12 FG, 5-6 3PT), which was a great sign for Washington. Now, Scott Brooks is hoping his other shooters can get on track and start shooting better. Opponents are shooting 36.9% from deep against Orlando (eighth worst in the NBA). Regardless, the Magic have lengthy defenders who make it difficult to shoot over, so creating open looks will once again be a point of emphasis on Friday.
Take care of business
Friday will be the team’s third of seven straight matchups against .500 or lower teams. The Wizards have gone 1-1 so far, but taking care of teams like the Magic is necessary to turning the season around. It’s no secret the Wizards struggled against sub-.500 last season, and they know how important it is to win these games. No opponent can be taken lightly, but the Wizards have a great opportunity in front of them to build a winning streak starting against the Magic.
First back-to-back of the season
Friday and Saturday will be the Wizards’ first back-to-back of the season. After playing the Magic, Washington heats to Miami to battle the Heat on Saturday night. It will be interesting to see some of the starters’ minutes usage, especially Dwight Howard who just came back from injury. The Wizards have 15 back-to-backs this season, so this is just the beginning. Last season, the Wizards finished 9-6 on the first night of a back-to-back and went 15-15 overall.