When: Monday, January 2 at 8:00 pm ET
Where: Toyota Center in Houston, Texas
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App
Wizards: Bradley Beal (Day-to-Day, Ankle), Ian Mahinmi (Out, Knee), Danuel House (Out, Wrist)
Rockets: Clint Capela (Out, Leg), Patrick Beverley (Questionable, Leg)
What to Watch for
How will Washington fare in their biggest road game of the season to date?
As we noted earlier, the Wizards have played very well in recent weeks, but they’ve also played a very home-heavy schedule. Washington is only 3-10 away from the Verizon Center this season. They’ve played well against quality opponents on the road like the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Thunder, but fell short at the end against all three.
Of course, all those losses came before the Wizards started to get good contributions from Kelly Oubre and the bench as a whole took a step forward. We’ll see if that’s enough to get them over the top against the Rockets, who come into Monday’s game with the third-best record in the Western Conference.
How are they going to slow down Houston?
Despite all the team’s success in December, they actually allowed more points per 100 possessions than they did in November. It just happened to be masked over by how the team took a big step forward offensively after floundering in November. Some of those defensive issues could be brought to light against the Rockets, who have consistently been one of the top three offenses in the league this season and have scored at least 120 points in each of their last four games, which have all been wins.
It also doesn’t help that James Harden is on a tear. He had 30 points, 10 assists, and 13 rebounds on Friday against the Clippers, and then followed it up by dropping 53 points, 17 assists, and 16 rebounds against the Knicks on Saturday. It’s going to take a whole team effort to slow Harden down and extra diligence to make sure Harden (who leads the league in free throw attempts) doesn’t get any of the starters into foul trouble.
Will Washington be haunted by the ghosts of Wizards past?
The Rockets have two former Wizards (Nene & Trevor Ariza) on the squad who know plenty about what it’s like to play with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Houston also has Ryan Anderson, who reportedly felt like he was going to end up in Washington during free agency last summer, only to wind up disappointed by Washington’s lack of interest.
Most Likely Wizards Killer: Sam Dekker
Washington has struggled with guys off the bench who can shoot from deep and have just enough burst to keep you on your toes. Dekker certainly qualifies for that role in this one.