It seems like the Washington Wizards have been a mediocre team for years now. They have usually had a decent amount of talent on the roster, but they have never been able to climb out of the middle of the pack. The first place most go to when it comes to blame is the coaching. Thankfully, the Wizards finally got rid of Randy Wittman after he failed to guide Washington to the playoffs last year.
The goal this season is for the Wizards to strongly climb over the hump of mediocrity they’ve been in for the past, well, it seems like forever really. To do that, newly hired head coach Scott Brooks will need to find a way to squeeze more out of the Wizards roster than Wittman was able to. The Wizards made some strong moves during the offseason. The hope is that Brooks can find a way to light a fire under these players. There’s still so many important questions for fans and pundits alike to consider, but one thing for certain is that it would help the cause to jump out to a good start.
The folks over at Nylon Calculus have put together a chart showing the schedule difficultly for the every team’s first ten games. According to their metrics, the Wizards’ first ten games are among the most difficult in the league to start the season. Here’s a look at each game in that stretch and what to expect:
Game 1: 10/27 @ Hawks
The Wizards will look to get out to a good start against a team that was in the playoffs last year. This is a winnable game, and the team’s performance will let fans know right away if Brooks is able to properly motivate his players.
Game 2: 10/30 @ Grizzlies
Washington opens with two straight road games, and this one is the tougher of the two. The Grizzlies were decimated by injuries last year, but they still made the playoffs for the sixth straight season. This will be a difficult challenge for the Wizards, and playing the Grizzlies tough is all Brooks can ask for. Somehow stealing a win would be a huge bonus.
Game 3: 11/2 vs. Raptors
The first home game for the Wizards is their third straight game against a team that made the playoffs last year. This is a winnable game.
Game 4: 11/4 vs. Hawks
Washington finishes the gauntlet of matchups with playoff teams when they host Atlanta. This is a game that the Wizards need to win.
Game 5: 11/5 @ Magic
This is the first game of the season against a team that didn’t make the playoffs last season. Brooks will need to keep the team focused as they play back-to-back nights with a flight to Orlando thrown in between games.
Game 6: 11/7 vs. Rockets
Dwight Howard is gone, and Mike D’Antoni has been brought in to try to right the ship for Houston. His high-tempo offense is the perfect fit for James Harden, and his teams’ historic lack of defense should make this a fun, up-and-down game to watch against a team that should compete with the Warriors in the West.
Game 7: 11/9 vs. Celtics
This is a must-win game for the Wizards. The Celtics are going to be likely be a major threat in the east this season. If Beal and the boys can come out with a home win against a strong eastern team this would be a great starting point.
Game 8: 11/11 vs. Cavaliers
The defending champs come to town in one of the toughest matchups for Washington this season. This is another game where simply keeping it close will be a good result.
Game 9: 11/12 @ Bulls
This is the second game of the season where Washington will be forced to play a game on the road with no rest after traveling. This pair of games is perhaps the most brutal back-to-back of the season.
Game 10: 11/16 @ 76ers
After years of rebuilding with lottery picks galore, Philadelphia may be ready to start climbing out of the cellar at last. Joel Embiid is finally healthy, and in the preseason has looked like the superstar he was predicted to be. Still, the Wizards need to find a way to win this one.
The NBA really did not do the Wizards any favors with their opening schedule. However, fans should expect positive results with a great coach like Brooks onboard. If he can get John Wall and Bradley Beal to mesh like he was able to do with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the Wizards should be able to capture six wins out of their first ten games.