When: Monday, February 22 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington
Wizards: Ish Smith (Quad, Out); Thomas Bryant (Knee, Out)
Lakers: Anthony Davis ( Achilles tendinosis, Out); Dennis Schröder (NBA’s health and safety protocols, Out); Kostas Antetokounmpo (Knee, Out).
The Washington Wizards are set to do battle with a familiar adversary: LeBron James. To speak of the Lakers is to start with him. So I got with
Call it Bulletin Board Material.
Ron, why do you want the Wizards to win?
Simple answer: I want to make the playoffs. Prior to the start of the season, the group chat came up with an overly-simplified metric for deciding whether a player is a superstar: A healthy superstar has to take the team to the playoffs. Although Russell Westbook is (wrongly) accused of being at the end of his superstar tether, Bradley Beal fills the Wizards void. And in the event that we have to trade our superstar so he can go flourish elsewhere, all Tommy Shepherd will have to do is mention that Brad dragged this leaky roster to the postseason. The ransom/running up the loot will be justified.
Also, I want the Wizards to make staying up late worth it. Nothing is more frustrating than staying up for a west coast tipoff, messing up your circadian rhythm, just for the team to lose. Because then, glum face, one will have to rhetorically ask, “why did I stay up late for this?” But if Saturday’s night gamely win against the Blazers is an indicator, we’ll avoid asking that question for a second straight game.
Lastly, I want the Wizards to win because wins against LeBron James are always appreciated. I irrationally blame LeBron for keeping Gilbert Arenas from sniffing the NBA Finals. And I swore in all sincerity to root for LeBron only when he represents the country at the Olympics. Don’t get it twisted: I don’t root against him. I’ve learned a long time ago that if you do he’ll crab dribble all over your heart’s hopes. He’s that great.
Trav, why do you want Bradley Beal Freed?
Let me answer your question with a question: What’s keeping Beal in Washington? Money? Loyalty? Legal REDACTED?
His apparent belief in the Wizards’ ability to turn whatever it is doing around is admirable. But I can’t help but close my eyes and imagine Beal in a Heat (or Lakers ) uniform soon. It’s one thing to average ~ 33 in Washington for the Wizards, but his stock would go up faster than Tesla’s if he were to do that in a market like Miami (or Los Angeles ). If I’m the Wizards, I don’t think twice about accepting Miami’s t
he Lakers trade package.
On March 25th’s trade deadline, I’ll be gorilla glued to the TV to see what yall do. Please #FreeBeal.
Who wins? Why?
Trav: This one’s a no-brainer: Lakers win with EASE. King LeBron James has always had it out for your guys. From tapping Gilbert on the chest to let him know the game was over, letting Deshawn Stevenson know that he can’t see him, having the greatest rapper make a diss track about your team — LeBron owns yall!
Remember the playoff sweep? Remember when he dropped his second-highest scoring tally against y'all? That 57 piece with 11 fries and 7 biscuits was fulfilling. Remember the game-tying 3? Drink this in:
What’s even scarier is that the King is focused on trying to win yet another MVP award. And the dominoes are falling in James’ favor for him to grab his 5th. Because a game against y’all laughable defense will help him pad stats to solidify his case.
Even without Anthony Davis, LeBron will do what he does: Beat the Wizards. Aiding him in the quest will be Russell Westbrook. Y’all weren’t invited to the party, but if you recall our gentleman’s sweep of Russ during the Bubble, Coach Frank Vogel’s defense had your starting point guard in solitary confinement. And knowing Russ, he will shoot and/or turnover the Wizards out of the game. So even if Beal goes off (which I expect), it won’t be enough to get through the defending champions.
Ron: We don’t have anyone who can stop LeBron. Qthaballa will hate me for this suggestion but maybe this is a game to throw Issac Bonga even more minutes. He’s lengthy and has 6 fouls the Wizards need not save. Even if the former Laker causes LeBron some trouble with scoring, LeBron will pivot. The dude has zero holes in his game; the Wizards have many, particularly with its defensive coverages. And because of the gaps, LeBron will have ample openings to thread passes through, tallying assists in the process.
On the other end, the Wizards are going to spread you all out. You may think AD’s absence is of little import. But you’re missing your best defender. His absence means 22 points are off the board, and it leaves Marc Gasol to defend Alex Len and Robin Lopez, Montrezl Harrell to keep up with Bertans on the perimeter, and zero paint help for when Beal and Russ blow past your guards. I know this concerns Wesley Matthews; the last time he had to face Beal Beal went and gave him a double-nickel.
Speaking of currency, a bettor recently placed $10K on the Wizards to win the Larry OB. Naturally, this wager shocked the world. But as Russell Westbrook’s catchphrase asks, ‘Why not?’ There’s no better way to continue shocking the world than by shocking the defending NBA champion in its own building. Without AD and Dennis Schröder to worry about, our plucky group has a puncher’s chance.
Wizards win in a close one. 5 straight, buddy!