The Wizards will aim to resume winning ways against Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm in Toronto. The Wizards are 4-6 in their last 10 but have dropped two straight since the return of Bradley Beal.
This stretch of losses comes off the heels of an impressive home-stand, during which Washington took out Miami, Denver, and Boston. After dropping a close game at home to the Utah Jazz, the Wizards traveled to Chicago and laid an egg in a very winnable game against a banged-up Bulls team. What is most interesting about this loss is the Wizards had a one-point lead in the fourth quarter before placing Bradley Beal back in the game to attempt to put the game away. After Beal came in, the Bulls went on a 17-5 run which put the game out of reach.
After the loss, Beal made some comments about this team not having a winning attitude or culture.
Of course, Twitter has done what Twitter does, and taken this sound bite and run with it. This season has been much different from past seasons in terms of the effort that the team gives on a nightly basis. For the most part, fans have been content and happy with the fight and growth that this young squad is showing. That’s what makes these comments so confusing. In a season that most have agreed is a “gap year” for the team, they’ve fared a bit better than anticipated. This will be a story to watch moving forward, as Beal was visibly frustrated at the end of the game on Wednesday.
Key Match-up: Battle of the Front courts
On Wednesday, Scott Brooks started Thomas Bryant and Ian Mahinmi together for the first time ever. Mahinmi played center, while Bryant tried to play more of a traditional power forward role. Bryant definitely looked a bit out of his depth. Mahinmi has played well at center this season, so it will be interesting to see how Brooks handles the lineup.
Washington has obviously locked Thomas Bryant down long term, while Mahinmi is on an expiring contract. You’d think Brooks would be more interested in giving Bryant some run at center with Anzejs Pasecniks. However, given the injury to Moe Wagner, it seems Brooks has no choice but to keep Mahinmi in the fold. Personally, I’m hoping the plan is to move forward with the front-court trio of Bryant, Wagner, and Pasecniks next season.
Toronto’s bigs provide a potential match-up nightmare for Washington, so we may see Bryant start alongside Mahinmi again. Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are both big and problematic down low, so the Wizards may need to stay big again to keep these two in check. I’d like to see Bryant get another chance starting alongside Mahinmi. Ideally, Bryant would be able to play in lineups next to Wagner, so getting some reps in with another center now would be good practice for him.
- Davis Bertans has picked up where he left off since returning from injury, shooting 44-percent from three point range. I do not think the Wizards should trade Bertans. But if he keeps playing well, it’ll be interesting to see what the incoming offers look like. Tommy Sheppard must do his due diligence and at least hear out teams that come calling. There will likely be a lot of fringe contenders who get desperate and are willing to overpay.
- Troy Brown Jr. has had two straight poor offensive showings after a stretch of really positive performances. He’s still only 20 years old so it’s nothing to raise the alarm over, but hopefully, he can get back on track soon. He scored exactly zero points against Chicago earlier in the week.
- Jordan McRae has continued to thrive in his role off the bench. He scored 16 in 25 minutes against Chicago and is averaging 19.9 over his last 10 games. I’ve previously mentioned that when this team is fully healthy next season, I’d love to see him operate in this Lou Williams type role off the bench. The Wizards have never had this much capable scoring coming off the bench in the Wall-Beal era. It’s hard not to get ahead of ourselves and think about how lethal the lineup could look next season.
Points spread: Toronto -10.5
Money lines: Toronto -600; Washington +450
Total: O/U 230