With the Wizards heading to Chi-Town to take on the Bulls for game one of preseason play, the players are clearly excited to get this season started. They have have shown enough confidence during this offseason about the type of team they expect to be. Now is the time to put that talk into action and prove it.
Where and when: Tip off is at 8 p.m. at Chicago's United Center. You can watch live on Comcast SportsNet if you're local or listen on the Wizards' new radio station, 99.1 WNEW. League Pass is not up yet, so out-of-towners may be out of luck.
How will the new-look Wizards come out of the gate? Fired up is my guess. It's clear this season more than ever that they are ready to get out and show the basketball world that they are for real, and that starts with tonight's matchup. When an explosive and extra excited John Wall is running the team, you can certainly expect to see the guys getting after it from the tip off. Opposite a finally-healthy Derrick Rose-led squad wanting to get revenge from having their season ended early last season by Washington, expect to see two teams going hard tonight despite the preseason status.
Enthusiasm aside, what type of Wizards team should we expect to see tonight? What we've heard from the players and coaches alike throughout training camp is that the team has been focusing almost entirely on defense. They don't seem too concerned about how the offense will look. With their makeup, scoring the ball shouldn't be an issue. But as usual, expect some chemistry issues, no matter how much these guys have been enjoying each other's company thus far. This is their first time getting burn in a real game setting so there will certainly be some miscommunication on the court tonight.
But the team looks like it will be even more fluid than ever, with Paul Pierce now helping Wall and Bradley Beal break down defenses from his forward spot rather than clinging to the corners for three-point attempts, a la Trevor Ariza last season. We know Nene has great vision for a big man and the ball will find open men if it's in his hands. Do Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair give the team the same selflessness, or will the ball movement become stagnant at this point? That's something to watch for tonight.
Can the non-guaranteed players make a difference? Reports early on have told us that Xavier Silas has the edge over swingmen Rasual Butler, Damion James, and big man Daniel Orton for the final regular season roster spot. Whether the team decides to use it for one of these players is a choice they will make depending on what they see out of each one during preseason. But expect to see Silas get bigger minutes than the rest. His task, as well as Butler's and James'? Get open. Knock down shots. Management has made it clear they looking for another knockdown shooter to add to this roster. If any of them can do this consistently during these preseason games, there is a good chance they will be the 15th Wizard.
Who's going to win? If the Wizards really do play the way the majority within the basketball world expects them to play, they should get the victory tonight. Despite Rose and the newest Bull, Pau Gasol, I think the Wizards match up too well for this Bulls squad, despite my dream back in August. Taj Gibson dominated at times against us during the playoffs, but with Blair and Humphries adding extra toughness for the Wizards down low, they should come out with a win.