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Wizards face Wolves Friday in Minneapolis
The Wizards’ road trip continues Friday at 8:00 P.M. in Minneapolis. Washington takes on a Timberwolves team that has won three of its last four games, including a 129-114 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Bradley Beal is coming off his second 40-point performance of the season, leading a Washington team looking to bounce back from a 140-133 loss in Boston.
Target Center | 8:00 P.M. ET | NBCSW+ | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Bradley Beal, F – Troy Brown Jr., F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Timberwolves: G – Jarrett Culver, G – Josh Okogie, F – Treveon Graham, F – Robert Covington, C – Karl-Anthony Towns
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (right Achilles strain – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins (personal - out), Jordan Bell (right shoulder sprain – questionable), Shabazz Napier (right hamstring strain – doubtful), Jeff Teague (illness – probable)
Bradley Beal carrying the load
Through nine games, Bradley Beal is averaging 28.1 points and 6.4 assists per game, numbers that would top any of his prior single-season averages to this point in his career. Beal is also averaging 22.8 field goal attempts, 9.0 3-point attempts and 6.9 free throw attempts per game, all of which would set career-highs. As the Wizards continue to sort out their young rotation and rely heavily on a rotating frontcourt, Beal has been asked to carry the load from the perimeter. He is one of six players in the NBA averaging 28 point per game with at least a 30% usage rate and joins James Harden as the only players with multiple games with 40 points, five rebounds and five assists. Beal has scored 30-plus points in his last two games against Minnesota – 30 earlier this season and a 36-point, 10-rebound and nine-assist performance in March of last season.
Wizards looking for defensive consistency
After allowing 140 points to the Celtics on Wednesday, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks acknowledged the team’s struggles on the defensive end of the floor and preached patience with a young core and evolving rotation.
“Guys aren’t trying to make mistakes and that’s what I love about our guys,” Brooks said. “They’re trying to play the right way. They’re trying to pick things up as quickly as they can but it’s going to take time. We’re all here to be patient, but we need to get locked in on some of these defensive coverages.”
The Wizards have allowed at least 120 points in five of their last seven games and are set to take on a Timberwolves team that scored 131 points in the teams’ November 2 meeting without All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, who provides as difficult a challenge for defenses as any scoring big man in the league. The 6’11” center is capable of stretching defenders out to the 3-point line, attacking off the dribble or serving as one of the league’s trickiest pick-and-roll screeners – averaging over a point per possession on 5.3 plays per game as the roll man. Look for the Wizards to utilize their frontcourt depth to keep Towns from getting comfortable around the rim, where he is shooting 66% on the season.