The Washington Wizards (17-31) have a better record than the Golden State Warriors (11-39). That felt SO weird to type but I just had to do it. Granted, both teams are pretty bad in the grand scheme of things but it says a lot about how things have gone for the Warriors so far this season. The Warriors actually have the worst record in the entire league.
Kevin Durant is gone, Andre Iguodala is gone, Steph Curry is hurt, and Klay Thompson is hurt. They still have Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell has been a good addition. Otherwise, the roster is full of rookies and retreads. Their most recent starting lineup featured Glenn Robinson III, Damion Lee, and Marquese Chriss. No need to apologize if your response to that was, “Who?!?”
In their last ten games, the Warriors are 2-8. The Wizards, while not exactly lighting the world on fire, are 4-6. But the Wizards have been showing signs of improvement. Or at least a torrid stretch from Bradley Beal has covered up a lot of their warts. Beal has scored 34 or more in each of the last six games.
Finally some good news for Washington
While the Warriors’ 4-22 road record is obviously a positive for the Wizards’ chances, the best news may come from the injury report. The Wizards will finally be back to full strength (or at least close enough). Hachimura is set to return after missing the last 23 games with a vaguely labeled groin injury. Moritz Wagner will be back after missing the last 25 games with what must have been the worst ankle sprain of all time. Fans are finally going to get another look at the fun, spunky rotation that kicked off the season. On the other side, D’Angelo Russell is questionable with a quad injury.
If Russell is able to play, this could turn into a real scorers’ duel between him and Bradley Beal. They may not spend much time directly matched up with each other but each player carries a heavy offensive burden for their team. Russell is averaging 23.8 points and 6.3 assists this season. He is clearly responsible for much of what the Warriors do on offense. Outside of him, there are very players on their team capable of scoring 20-plus points.
A secondary match-up to pay attention to could be at power forward. It seems every team in the league is looking for their Draymond Green-type player that can do a little bit of everything for them. In the Wizards’ case, that player is Isaac Bonga. He’s long, good defensively, can push the ball in transition, and isn’t much of a threat from the perimeter. Sounds just like Draymond Green, right? Clearly, Green is basically the ceiling for what the Wizards can hope Bonga turns into. Hopefully, he can use their match-up tonight as an opportunity to take some notes.
What else to watch for
- Thomas Bryant has looked closer to form over the last three games. In that span, he has averaged almost 19 points and around 9 rebounds. He will likely come off of the bench again but it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up.
- Gary Payton II will likely draw the Russell assignment tonight. Will he be able to slow him down? He had a strong showing against Kyrie Irving on Saturday and Russell presents a similar challenge.
- Who will step up for Golden State? Damion Lee had a pretty strong December but has cooled significantly over the last few weeks. They will need someone else to get hot to pull out a road win.
Jordan McRae is out (ankle) and John Wall is out (Achilles).
Steph Curry is out (hand), Klay Thompson is out (ACL), and D’Angelo Russell is questionable (quad).
Spread: Wizards -5.5
Total points: O/U 234 points
Money line: Wizards -212, Warriors +180