For the first time since 2011, the Wizards will open the season at home against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. Markelle Fultz, the number one pick in this year’s draft and a product of the DMV, will be making his NBA debut alongside last year’s top overall pick, Ben Simmons.
The last time we saw the Wizards at home in the then Verizon Center, now the Capital One Arena; John Wall was standing on the scorer's table after hitting a game winner against the Celtics in one of the most memorable games in franchise history.
John Wall and co. have gone on the record stating that anything short of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance would be a disappointment. On Wednesday, the quest for 50 wins and that Eastern Conference Finals appearance begins.
When: Wednesday, October 18 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
TV: ESPN. The game will not be carried by local affiliates.
Wizards: Markieff Morris (Out, Hernia Surgery)
Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (Probable, Ankle), Jahlil Okafor (Game Time Decision, Illness), Richaun Holmes (Out, Wrist)
What to Watch for
Joel Embiid vs. Marcin Gortat
Both of these players had very different offseasons. Shortly after the Wizards Game 7 loss to the Celtics, Gortat said that he was ‘unsure’ of what his role with the team would be going forward. Meanwhile, Embiid made noise in the Twitterverse while also adding a few zeroes to his bank account.
In a matchup of the rising young star versus the veteran, it’ll be interesting to see if Gortat can hold his own defensively while still posing somewhat of a threat offensively. Remember, the last time we saw Gortat, he had trouble guarding Al Horford away from the basket and Embiid is similar in that his jump shot stretches all the way out to the three-point line. We should have a pretty good idea early on if Gortat will be able to neutralize Embiid.
Wizards must capitalize on turnovers
Young teams tend to turn the ball over and turn it over often. The 76ers are well aware of this as they were worst in the league last season committing 16.7 turnovers per contest. John Wall and the Wizards will look to capitalize on the errors as they were one of the best teams in the league last season in turning turnovers into points.
And let's not forget, there will likely be some first game jitters for Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz who’ll both be making their NBA debuts Wednesday night. The Wizards should have plenty of opportunities in transition and need to take advantage of the 76ers’ mistakes.
What will the bench look like?
Jodie Meeks was on fire from three-point range in the preseason. Kelly Oubre is still long and athletic and can now finish with his off-hand. And although he suffered a minor setback, Tim Frazier looked capable of playing the backup point guard position.
But that was the preseason. And as we know, the regular season is a different animal. Outside of Oubre and Mahinmi, the Wizards essentially shuffled the remaining reserves and are hoping one of their new offseason acquisitions can be a spark off the bench.
Something tells me there will be a ton of hot takes one way or another regarding this group on Thursday morning.
A random highlight from Wizards - Sixers history
John Wall made his home debut against the 76ers on November 2, 2010. He put together a splendid line, with 29 points, 13 assists, and 9 steals, but Cartier Martin, who had an unguaranteed contract that season, stole the show with this shot to force overtime over Andre Iguodala.
Wall hit a clutch jumper in overtime and Andray Blatche hit a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to seal the win, but it’ll always be the Cartier Martin game to us.