After a mini two-game skid through the state of Texas, the Wizards return to the friendly confines of Verizon Center for the first time in 2017 to take on Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. That’s good news for the Wizards as they have a much better record on their home floor versus on the road.
The combination of Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris will have their hands full with the prodigy that is Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns can explode for a 30-15 game on any given night so it’ll be key that the duo keeps him in check before he can get going.
Washington will need to take care of business as the schedule toughens up a bit as road games against Milwaukee and Boston loom. If the Wizards don’t win on Friday night, this skid could potentially spiral into something worse.
The Wolves have underachieved in most people’s eyes so far this season. Let’s hope that doesn’t change against Washington on Friday night.
When: Friday, January 5th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: The Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Out, Knee) Danuel House (Out, Wrist)
Timberwolves: Nikola Pekovic (Out, Ankle)
What to watch for
Another test for Otto Porter
Porter is likely to start this game matched up against andrew Wiggins, one of the brightest young starts in the game. Both Wiggins and Porter are in the midst of the best seasons of their young careers. The Wizards will need a nice performance from Porter as Wiggins, like Towns, can explode on any given night. Wiggins excels in transition and attacking the hole so Porter will have his hands full in trying to keep him out of the paint.
Will the Wizards get something, anything from the bench?
The bench looked to be taking minor steps forward in December which gave fans a slither of hope that they too, could be turning the corner. But that all came to a screeching halt after the last two games. The reserves combined for just 28 points total over the last two games and all of a sudden, Jason Smith has become the most consistent player off the bench as of late. After a cold stretch, Kelly Oubre’s shot looked a little bit better against the Mavericks but the Wizards will need more production from the second-year player moving forward.
Will the Wizards continue to let it fly from three-point range?
The Wizards attempted 56 three-pointers over their past two games. Many of those were from Beal as he accounted for 21 of those attempts but the team’s three-point attempts have gone up as a whole. It felt like the Wizards were baited a bit into playing up tempo against the Rockets which seemed a bit out of character only to jack up 30 three-point attempts against the Mavs in a failed comeback attempt. It’ll be interesting to see if the Wizards get back to playing their style of offense or if they continue to let it fly from three.
Most Likely Wizards Killer: Zach Lavine
Lavine torched the Wizards last year in Verizon Center. Let’s just hope he doesn’t put on a dunk contest at Washington’s expense on Friday.