Last week, the Wizards’ 2019-2020 regular season schedule was released. And for the first time since the 1980s, Washington will open the season with a three-game road trip against Western Conference foes. Unlike the lead up to past seasons, this one has a different feel to it. The Wizards are expected to win somewhere in the ballpark of 26-30 games depending on where you look and will enter this season with Bradley Beal as the team’s new centerpiece with John Wall sidelined for the season.
Let’s take a closer glance at the schedule:
How about the first four games? The Wizards aren’t strangers to starting the season on the road but opening in Dallas followed by trips to Oklahoma City and San Antonio is brutal for a team that’s habitually struggled out of the gate.
Washington has always had issues playing in Dallas and Oklahoma City no matter where they fell on the schedule, not to mention, the Wizards haven’t won in San Antonio this century. The schedule makers did Washington no favors in that regard as they’ll likely be 0-3 before heading back to D.C. for the home opener.
And about that home opener, it’s against the new look Houston Rockets with James Harden and their newest addition in Russell Westbrook. Just like that, it’s feasible that the Wizards will be staring at an 0-4 record with their first chance for a W not coming until the calendar flips to November when they take on Minnesota and Detroit at home.
The Wizards will get thrown into the wood chipper and face their toughest stretch of the season at the end of November as they’ll be on the road for Thanksgiving this year. The Wizards will take on Denver, Phoenix, LA Lakers, and LA Clippers over a six day span.
Things won’t get easier from there. After a date at home against the improved Orlando Magic, the Wizards take on the 76ers at home, then travel to Miami, only to finish off the gauntlet at home against the Clippers. Let’s hope that the new guys gel sooner rather that later and maybe they get an unexpected boost because things could go south very quickly as that eight game stretch feels like 1-7 or 2-6 on it’s best day.
The third round of the gauntlet comes at the end of February and beginning of March as they’ll head out west for their second Western Conference road trip to take on Utah, Golden State, Sacramento, and Portland in succession. Who knows what this roster will look like come March but what we do know is, on paper, it’s tough to see the Wizards winning any of those games.
For a team with a projected win total in the high twenties, I’m not quite sure if we should call this the easiest stretch. Maybe the least brutal stretch? Stretch of games where they could potentially string together a few wins?
Even though they’ll start out on the road, there’s a three week span where Washington might be able to get their footing after what we assume will be a bumpy start. Beginning on December 10, the Wizards will play at Charlotte, at Memphis, at Detroit, and then come home to take on the Bulls.
Even though those games are on the road, Charlotte might be the worst team in the league next year and Memphis isn’t too far behind. The contest in Detroit won’t be easy but is definitely winnable followed by a game at home against the rebuilding Bulls.
After two tough ones in Toronto and in Philadelphia sandwiched in there, the schedule lightens up a bit toward the end of the calendar year with two contests against the Knicks, at Detroit again, and against Miami and Orlando at home. If the Wizards are going to show any form of life this year, or really just show that they can be competitive, they’ll need to go 7-4 or 6-5 over that 11 game stretch.
The stretch that contains the most winnable games comes in mid to late February. The Wizards close out the lead up to the All-Star break against Dallas, Memphis, and Chicago all at home, then head to Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks before the break.
But there’s a catch — this stretch starts on February 7th, which is also the trade deadline. With the Wizards projecting to have a rough year, if they’re going to do anything at the deadline, they’ll be sellers not buyers. Will Bradley Beal be on the team then? What about the guys they signed this summer on one-year or two-year deals? Will they be offloaded for picks?
They resume play against the Cavs and at the Chicago after the All-Star break to close out the most manageable stretch of the season. But it’s hard to know what to expect as the makeup of the team could look a whole lot different by then.
Match-ups to watch
The Wizards will have just four nationally televised games this year which is the fewest they’ve had in a long time. Outside of a matchup against the Cavs on November 8th on ESPN, the rest of their nationally televised games will be on NBA TV.
Isaiah Thomas returns to Boston on November 13th. Ever since Thomas was traded from the Celtics in 2017, he’s battled injuries. Here’s an opportunity for the veteran to get back at his former team in what he hopes is a season that resurrects his career.
The Chicago Bulls make their first visit to D.C. on December 18th which will seem like a meaningless game to most but will serve as a revenge game for Otto Porter and Tomas Satoransky, now both members of the Bulls. And remember, last year, Porter didn’t play against the Wizards in D.C. toward the tail end of the season.
The Wizards will take on the LA teams in Los Angeles starting the day after Thanksgiving, November 29th, against the Lakers. Just two days later, they’ll take on Clippers at Staples Center. Hopefully the Lakers and Clippers will still be stuffed from the holiday because those could get ugly.
Lastly, the Wizards will continue the tradition of playing on MLK Day as they’ll take on the Detroit Pistons in a matinee, 2pm matchup.
Fans of opposing teams have a history of flooding Capital One Arena — don’t expect things to change this year.
The Wizards take on the new look Houston Rockets in their ‘home opener’ which will be a quasi road game for Washington. The next sellouts will likely come in early December when the Wizards play the 76ers and Clippers at home over a three-day span.
After games against the Kyrie Irving led Nets and Golden State Warriors in February, fans of the Lakers and the number one pick Zion Williamson will flock to Capitol One Arena when the Wizards play the Lakers and Pelicans in back-to-back home games on March 28th and April 1st.
Get your tickets now before the fans of visiting teams scoop them all up in what will turn out to be road games for the Wiz.