The Wizards (13-25) will try to continue a recent run of success against the streaking Utah Jazz (26-12) on Sunday afternoon.
This is the first in a two-game season series between the teams. Last season, the Wizards were dominated by the Jazz in their head-to-head series, losing both games by an average of 13 points.
The Jazz are coming into this game blisteringly hot. They’ve won their last 8 games, including an impressive 120-107 win against the LA Clippers, and will look to quickly shut down the upset-minded Wizards. However, the Wizards are currently rolling as well, winning 3 of their last 4 including statement wins against the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics. This game has clear barn-burner potential with both teams at arguably their hottest point in the season.
This Wizards will continue using their “next man up” mentality, with a platoon of injured players (including Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant) predicted to be out for this game. Jordan McRae and Ish Smith are players who have stepped up recently and the most likely to answer the call.
Key Match-Up: Wizards Big Men vs. Rudy Gobert
The Wizards will likely roll out an undersized starting line-up including three guards. They will need a lot of help if they want to stop Utah’s center, Rudy Gobert. If Thomas Bryant ends up on the bench once again due to a foot injury, Ian Mahinmi and Anzejs Pasecniks will have to fill in the void. Mahinmi has spent periods of time looking like a player deserving of his $64 million contract and other periods looking like a player deserving of a waiver. Pasecniks finally had his two-way contract converted to a three-year NBA contract this morning after being a surprise gem for the Wizards so far this season.
If the Wizards want an upset, it will be up to these two centers to stop the monster that is Rudy Gobert. Gobert has been on an absolute tear lately, averaging 13.3 points on 63% shooting to go with 14.9 rebounds over the Jazz’s winning streak. Limiting Gobert’s impact on the boards, and the game in general, will be key to the Wizards’ chances at securing an upset.
- Davis Bertans is another Wizard to watch in his second game following a nine-game absence. The Latvian Laser had 14 points in limited minutes during his return to action on Friday and will look to build upon that performance.
- The Wizards have had a streak of bad injury luck, but Beal and Bryant’s imminent returns are a signal that their luck may be beginning to change. Even if neither is able to get on the court against the Jazz, they will be back soon, and the likes of Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner are not far behind.
- Isaiah Thomas has seen his resurgence at the beginning of the season fall into disarray. He has scored in double digits in only one of the last seven games and has seen less than 25 minutes in each of those games despite being a starter. Sunday’s game could give Thomas a chance to turn things around against a Jazz team missing their starting point guard, Mike Conley.
Wizards: Bradley Beal, Thomas Bryant DAY-TO-DAY; Rui Hachimura, Garrison Mathews, Moritz Wagner, John Wall OUT
Jazz: Mike Conley OUT
Point spread: Utah -9
Money lines: Utah -420, Washington +340