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Wizards vs. Pelicans preview: Washington hosts one of the West’s top teams on Monday

Zion Williamson is not playing though.

NBA: Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards and the New Orleans Pelicans meet for the first time in January, and this will be a largely “star-less affair” with Bradley Beal, Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram out.

Given that both of New Orleans’ starting forwards are out, this might be a fortunate moment for the Wizards to meet one of the top teams in the West. However, this doesn’t look like an easy match-up, as a quick viewing of the highlights of the Pelicans’ last game with the Brooklyn Nets will reveal: the Pelicans are a deep team, with excellent guards, e.g., CJ McCollum, and Jose Alvarado.

Game Info

When: Monday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

How to watch: NBC Sports Washington and League Pass

Injury Report

Wizards: Bradley Beal (Out)

Pelicans: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (Out)

Pregame notes

Interesting match-up for Gafford — As the lead art for this piece might reveal, one of the key match-ups for this game is the 234 lb. Daniel Gafford vs. the 265 lb. Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas also has a good handle from deep, shooting 37 percent from three in his last 10 contests. This could lead to Gafford spending time out on the perimeter and requiring help defense from the Wizards’ forwards to contain drives. Will be interesting to see which team dominates the paint and whether Gafford can stay out of foul trouble as the Wizards don’t have a whole lot of depth in the Center position.

Tough loss in OKC — The Wizards are coming off a beating Oklahoma City in a game that was almost never competitive, a sort of extended garbage-time. They have three days to rest, but then again they also had three days to rest before the OKC game... Their January schedule is considerably spaced out with no less than five 3-day rest periods! As well as several relatively easy match-ups on paper (Knicks, twice, Golden State at home, Orlando, Houston, San Antonio are all games they are ``supposed” to win, and their other ``hard” games are this Perlicans game, as well as Dallas away, and Chicago at home). So at least on paper, they could easily go for 7-3 in their next 10 games.

Flashback: KCP and Dinwiddie lead the Wizards to victory

A little over a year ago, the Wizards employed Spencer Dinwiddie and KCP. And they handed the Pelicans a good fight and a loss in D.C. Here are the highlights: