Somehow, the NBA allowed the Washington Wizards to play eight games in the last 12 days, including two stretches of four games in five nights. How that happened, I'll never know. The Wizards ended up going 6-2 in those eight games, with only road losses to Toronto and Indiana as blemishes. That's impressive.
But now, the schedule calms down a bit. Monday's game against the Magic marks the first of a quiet stretch where the Wizards will play only two additional times (December 6 at home vs. Milwaukee, December 9 at home vs. Denver). They won't hit the road again until December 13, when they travel to face the Atlanta Hawks.
It's a much-needed break, and one the Wizards anticipated. When they decided to hold Bradley Beal out with his leg injury, they did so thinking these next 12 days would be this quiet, one source told me. The same, I presume, is true of Otto Porter and his hip injury. With so much time to practice, this is when he can really start to get back the time he lost.
So, with all this in mind, a few suggestions:
- Hold Nene out of practices: Or, at least, the competitive sections of them. The big Brazilian was clearly in pain after playing through a sore Achilles in Saturday's win over the Hawks. There's no need for him to go hard in practice over this stretch.
- In fact, hold most of the starters out when appropriate: I'm not saying they shouldn't practice at all, but given the minutes John Wall, Martell Webster, Marcin Gortat and Nene are logging, there's no sense in adding to that odometer when games aren't being played. (I'd throw Trevor Ariza in there, but he might benefit from going harder after missing several games).
- Get Otto Porter ready: This is priority No. 1. Have him increasingly go harder in practice until he's ready. Get him up to speed with the plays. Set a goal for him to play by, at worst, the end of this stretch.
- Get the reserves more practice time: As a corollary to resting the starters, go hard on the reserves. Have the starters do some things to remove claims of unfairness, but work the reserves harder. They need the work and now is time to develop cohesion.
- Get Bradley Beal healthy: Yeah, that's a given.
- Wizards vs. Hawks final score: The John Wall Show continues as Washington wins, 108-101
- Wizards vs. Hawks: John Wall, Washington bounce back in 108-101 win
- Wizards vs. Hawks preview: Can Washington bounce back?
- Magical Pixels, Wizards vs. Pacers: Washington outclassed without Nene and Bradley Beal
- Wizards vs. Pacers final score: Offense struggles in 93-73 blowout