The Washington Wizards (10-23) look to rebound against a slumping Portland Trailblazers (14-21), losers of five straight.
The Wizards and Blazers split a pair last season and each team won on the other team’s court. This will be their first matchup of the 2019-20 season.
The biggest story with the Blazers this season has been the revival of Carmelo Anthony. Anthony was waived by the Rockets last season after just 10 games and two starts, and some questioned if we’d ever again see the former perennial All-Star suit up for an NBA team. The Blazers gave him a chance to play and even a chance to start, and in 20 games he’s averaging 16 points and six rebounds per game in 31.5 minutes. Despite the services of Anthony, the Blazers are a far cry from their third-place finish at the end of last season. They’re currently the ninth seed in the West, on the outside looking in.
Key Matchup: Bradley Beal vs. C.J. McCollum
The Wizards and Blazers both have shooting guards who can catch fire and score from anywhere on the court. Beal and McCollum have both, over the years, developed into complete offensive weapons who can create for themselves, take it to the hole, or shoot from the outside. Neither of them is a very good defender, but this game could boil down to which one of them is able to slow down the other.
The problem for the Wizards is that aside from McCollum, the Blazers have two more elite scorers in Anthony and Damian Lillard, and the Wizards basically have their G-league squad behind Beal.
Spotlight on: Jordan McRae
Although Beal doesn’t have any All-Star support with John Wall sidelined, over the past few games we’ve witnessed the emergence of Jordan McRae. Since returning from injury, McRae has had at least 15 points in all four of his games off the bench, including a 29 point outburst in the Wizard’s recent upset win over the Heat.
The Wizards have been trying to identify a second fiddle to Beal all season. There have been times it’s looked like Troy Brown Jr., Isaiah Thomas, Davis Bertans, and Moe Wagner, but no one has been able to remain consistent (or healthy). McRae is shooting 48% from three in his four games back, look for him to further assert himself as a reliable contributor.
- The Blazers score 112 points per game and give up 114.1
- The Wizards score 116.2 points per game and give up 121
Out: Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, Moritz Wagner, Davis Bertans, C.J. Miles
Day-to-day: Bradley Beal
Out: Skal Labissiere, Mario Hezonja
Spread: WSH +5.5
Moneyline: POR -215, WSH +180