The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Washington Wizards were one of the more active teams before the 3:00 p.m. deadline yesterday. The Wizards (17-32) will have a few new names on the roster when they take on the Dallas Mavericks (31-20) Friday night.
The Wizards and Mavericks are both young teams with a lot of promise, but they have been on very different paths this season. The Mavericks, led by MVP candidate (and 20-year-old) Luka Doncic, have found themselves in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race. Meanwhile, the Wizards have had a largely disappointing season, despite nightly dazzling performances from superstar Bradley Beal.
This match-up loses a little of its luster since Luka Doncic is currently out while rehabbing an ankle injury. Washington has a much better chance of winning this game with Doncic off the court. The Mavericks are 2-2 since losing Doncic to injury.
The Wizards are 2-5 in their last five games. They lost to the lowly Warriors in their last game despite strong scoring outputs from Bradley Beal (43 points) and Davis Bertans (19 points).
The Wizards traded away guard Isaiah Thomas to the Clippers on Thursday, meaning Ish Smith will finally be called into the full-time starting role for the squad. Smith, who has started 12 games this season, is averaging 12 points and 4.6 assists as a starter.
Smith will be up against another player who recently gained the starting role, Jalen Brunson. Brunson was called upon to head the Mavericks’ offense with Doncic out. Brunson has averaged 13.6 points and 6 assists in games started so far this season.
Both point guards will be in charge of creating the game flow and leading their starting units in this game. Whoever performs better in their newfound position should have a large impact on the game’s outcome.
- The Wizards acquired two new players during the trade deadline: Jerome Robinson and Shabazz Napier. Robinson is the gem of this trade deadline: he’s been desired by Washington ever since they missed out on him in the 2018 draft. While it’s not yet known if either will be available for this match-up, their presence on the bench would be a big boost to the team.
- If Napier and Robinson aren’t available, the Wizards will be shorthanded tonight. They traded away Isaiah Thomas and Jordan McRae at the deadline for the aforementioned players.
- The Mavericks are still waiting to find out about the availability of star forward Kristaps Porzingis, who suffered a nose injury on Wednesday against Memphis. If both Porzingis and Doncic are out, the Wizards will have an even better chance to get a win.
- The Wizards managed to hold on to sharpshooter Davis Bertans. A fan-favorite and absolute laser from three, Washington has detailed its plans to re-sign Bertans in the offseason. General Manager Tommy Shepard remarked in a post-deadline press conference, “it was never a doubt in my mind that we wanted to keep him.”
Wizards — Thomas Bryant (foot): Questionable. John Wall (left Achilles rehab): Out.
Mavericks — J.J. Barea (ankle), Seth Curry (knee), Kristaps Porzingis (facial injury): Questionable. Luka Doncic (ankle), Dwight Powell (Achilles): Out.
Spread: Dallas -2.0
Money Line: Dallas -127, Washington +108
If Ish Smith performs well in the starting position and Bradley Beal continues his hot streak, the Wizards should be able to capitalize on Doncic’s absence, even if they remain short-handed. My prediction: Washington wins in a close one, 127-124.