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Wizards at Pacers Preview: Washington opens the season in Indiana

Washington opens the season with a new-look roster and new hopes. Can they race out of the gates against the Paces?

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NBA: Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Wizards are hoping to start their season with a win for the second straight year. They head to Indianapolis to take on the Pacers as two-point favorites.

Game Info

Gametime: 7:00 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Oct. 19

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

TV: NBC Sports Washington

Injuries: WIZARDS—Corey Kispert, OUT (left ankle sprain); Vernon Carey Jr., QUESTIONABLE (Concussion protocol). PACERS—Aaron Nesmith, QUESTIONABLE (sore left foot); Jalen Smith, QUESTIONABLE (sore right knee); Daniel Theis - OUT (sore right knee).

What To Watch For

Washington is fully healthy outside of Corey Kispert. This will be our first look at Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis together in a regular season Wizards game. Deni Avdija will also be in action for the first time this year after missing the preseason. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. didn’t rule out a minute restriction for either Porzingis or Avdija, but seemed optimistic about their health earlier this week.

The starting lineup will provide immediate intrigue. Monte Morris and Beal will start at the guard spots. Porzingis starts at center and Kuzma will get a forward spot. Will Barton, Rui Hachimura, and Avdija fought over the other forward spot.

Unseld Jr. said he has had the starting lineup pretty much set since training camp, but has not revealed it. Hachimura started the first two preseason games and led the team in preseason minutes. But Barton started all four preseason games. He’s the favorite to be in the starting lineup against the Pacers with Avdija still returning from injury.

Indiana is a rebuilding team with some pieces from the past they’ll look to trade. Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, and Chris Duarte will test Washington’s perimeter defense, especially their spot-up defense. Buddy Hield and Myles Turner are established NBA players who provide matchup problems for the Wizards. The Wizards are favored to win this game, but the matchup will be a good measuring stick for where this team is right now.

Washington went 2-2 against Indiana last year. But both those wins came at home and they’ve gone 1-5 in Indianapolis since 2018. The Wizards are on the road to open the season for the fourth straight season and the 9th time in 11 seasons. They have gone 3-7 in their last 10 season openers, but they did beat Toronto 98-83 in the first game of the 2021-22 season. Washington last opened the season against the Pacers in 2007 when they lost 110-119 in Indianapolis.