On August 11, the NBA released its schedule for the 2016-17 NBA season. Like most NBA fans, Wizards supporters will look forward to their big home matchups against teams like the Kevin Durant-led Warriors and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Other big games include a matchup with head coach Scott Brooks' former team the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as games against Eastern Conference powerhouses like the Boston Celtics.
That being said, those games will be incredibly expensive and difficult to get quality tickets. So if you are a Wizards fan looking for some fun home games to go to without breaking the bank, here are five low key games that should still be incredibly entertaining.
Monday, November 7th against the Rockets
Following a disappointing season, the Rockets are looking to bounce back and re-establish themselves among the West’s elite teams. Houston aims to do this with new head coach Mike D’Antoni, who is known for his accelerated "seven seconds or less offense". D'Antoni is the perfect coach for all-star guard James Harden. Harden, who dropped 42 and 40 points against the Wizards last year has proven time and time again he is one of the best scorers in the league. New additions Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson should compliment Harden well with strong three point shooting. On the opposite side of the spectrum, D’Antoni’s teams have struggled defensively and Harden is known for his lackluster defensive effort. With all that being said, this should be an exciting, fast-paced, high-scoring affair.
Friday, December 16 against the Pistons
The team who beat out the Wizards for the eighth seed last year only come to Washington once this season. And although it is relatively early in the schedule, it is an incredibly important game. The Wizards will want to hold serve and make sure that they can win as many series as possible to hold tiebreakers for playoff scenarios. But after being swept by the Cavs in the first round last year, Detroit will look to take another step in the right direction. Andre Drummond is coming off his first All-Star appearance after leading the league in rebounds with almost 15 a game. Reggie Jackson, Tobias Harris, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope make up a 26-and-under core that is only going to get better. Plus, there is the added sibling rivalry bonus with the Morris twins going head to head.
Friday, January 6 against the Timberwolves
In one of the more entertaining games last season, the Timberwolves came into Verizon Center and ousted the Wizards 132-129 in double overtime. Rookie sensation Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Wolves young core of Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn should be an electric tandem that will use its freakish athleticism to outshine opponents. Now with a respected coach in Tom Thibodeau, the young Wolves are expected to take another leap. Minnesota at best will compete for the eight seed this season and are still years away from being title contenders, but that doesn't mean they won't be fun to watch up close.
One added bonus: If Kevin Garnett does return for what would be his 22nd season, it could be one last chance for Wizards fans to see him in person.
Saturday, February 4 against the Pelicans
One of the biggest disappointments of the 2016 season was Anthony Davis. Considered to be one of the frontrunners for MVP, Davis was limited to 61 games with nagging knee and shoulder injuries. Now entering his fifth season, Davis will once again look to prove he belongs in the discussion as a top-five player. Make no mistake, a healthy Davis is a force to be reckoned with, who led the league with a 30.8 Player Efficiency Rating two years ago. College sensation Buddy Hield, who the pelicans drafted sixth overall this past NBA draft will be making his first trip to the nation's capital. If healthy, the Pelicans are a fringe playoff team that has upset potential as a seven or eight seed out West.
When Davis and the Pelicans visited the Verizon Center last season, the Wizards actually held Davis in check. While the big man did secure 20 rebounds, he only had nine points on 3-9 shooting as the Wizards cruised to a 109-89 victory.
Friday, February 10 against the Pacers
Paul George torched the Wizards for 38 points including the game-winning free throws for a 100-99 Pacers win the last time these two faced off at the Verizon Center. Earlier in the season, George came to Washington and dropped 40 points going 7-8 from three-point range in a late November matchup.
The two teams will face each other four times next season but this matchup will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN. Indiana had a strong offseason adding all-star point guard Jeff Teague along with veterans Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson. The Pacers are probably a tier ahead of Washington in the Eastern Conference, but if Washington is serious about getting back in the playoffs, this is a game they need to win.