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Wizards vs. Spurs preview: Washington looks for first win in San Antonio since 1999

NBA: Washington Wizards at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

To say that the Spurs have dominated the Wizards over the years is a huge understatement. The Spurs have been particularly dominant at home against Washington. The Wizards’ last victory in San Antonio was on December 11th, 1999. Since that game the Spurs have won 29 of 32 overall against the Wizards and 16 straight at home.

These two teams met just this past Saturday at the Verizon Center where the Spurs defeated the Wizards 112-100. The Wizards allowed the Spurs to shoot 53 percent from the field, even though their top scorer, Kawhi Leonard, struggled from the field throughout the game.

Washington comes into Friday’s game with a 6-11 record, after a disappointing 126-115 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The Wizards had a seven point lead with 3:10 left in regulation, but were unable to close out the Thunder before Russell Westbrook took over at the end of regulation and overtime.

The Spurs are coming off a 94-87 win on the road against the Mavericks, who currently have the worst record in the NBA. The Spurs currently have the second-best record in the West at 15-4, and have won 10 of their last 11, their only loss coming in a baffling 95-83 loss at home to the Magic on Tuesday.

Game Info

When: 8:30 PM EST
Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App

Injury Report

Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Questionale, Knee), Danuel House (Out, Wrist), Markieff Morris (Questionable, Ankle)

Spurs: None

Keys to the Game

Wizards Need to Play the Full 48 Minutes

I know this sounds very cliché, but it really describes a major issue for the Wizards this season. The Wizards have struggled to maintain consistent play throughout the game, particularly in the closing minutes. This J. Michael tweet points out a glaring issue:

The Spurs are not a team that you can make mistakes against. In order for the Wizards to win this game, they must do a better job of maintaining a high level of play on both ends. If the Wizards can somehow go into the late parts of the 4th quarter with a lead, they must do better to maintain the lead than they have in their previous two games.

Defensive Intensity

Allowing a team to shoot 53 percent from the field like they did when they faced the Spurs last week, will not win you a lot of games. The Wizards give up the fourth-worst, three-point percentage in the league, and they also allow their opponents to shoot 46 percent from the field, which is the fifth-worst in the league.

Defense has been the driving force in the times when the Wizards are playing well. When the Wizards win, opponents only shoot 42.8 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from deep. In losses, they allow 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc.

Quicken the Pace

The Spurs are a superb half-court team and playing a slower pace plays to that strength. They currently play at the 3rd lowest pace in the league, averaging 95.1 possessions per game. When they faced off last week, the Wizards beat the Spurs in fast break points, 17-8, and points off of turnovers, 18-9. If the Wizards can disrupt the Spurs offensive flow, while getting on the fast break more often, they give themselves a better chance at winning.

Most Likely Wizards Killer: Patty Mills

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a 23-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, Patty Mills is someone for the Wizards to watch out for on Friday. He is averaging a career-high 11.9 points per game, and shooting a career-best 51.2 percent from the field while coming off the bench this season. In the first meeting against the Wizards, Mills had 13 points in just 19 minutes of play.