When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Capital One Arena; Washington DC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
It had been more than three weeks since the Hornets last won a game before they ground out a win against the train wreck that is the New York Knicks. They’ll have a good chance to make it two wins in as many nights against a Wizards team that isn’t a whole lot better.
The Wizards weren’t supposed to be good this season, but you’d think a team with an All NBA caliber guard averaging 29 points and 6 assists per game would be able to steal a few more wins than a Hornets team made up of youth and spare parts. That isn’t the case though.
The Wizards are a disaster defensively, and it starts with their star. Bradley Beal has a Defensive Real Plus-Minus of -4.47. That’s the worst mark in the league and sits just behind Trae Young, who has also positioned himself as a no-defense-playing bucket getter on a terrible team. The Wizards have actually been better when Beal sits, even though he provides a boon to their offense when he’s on the floor. When he’s on the bench, their defense improves by 10.9 points per 100 possessions, which is one of the largest discrepancies in the league (in a bad way).
Some of that can be pinned on Beal sharing the court with known defensive sieve Isaiah Thomas. When the two are on the court together, the Wizards give up an astronomical 123.0 points per 100 possessions. For context, the worst non-Wizards defense in the league gives up 114.7 points per 100 possessions. When Beal plays without Thomas, that number drops to a less bad but still horrendous 120.7 points per 100 possessions.
It all adds up to a Wizards defense that is far and away the worst in the league, and it’s accentuated by how quickly they play. They allow 121.3 points per game, which is the most the league has seen since the Denver Nuggets somehow gave up over 130 points per game for an entire season nearly 30 years ago. The Wizards have topped that mark in the last couple weeks by allowing opponents to average 131.5 points per game in their last six, including 152 and 151 points by the Hawks and Bucks respectively in their last two games.
The Hornets narrowly survived a Davis Bertans explosion in their last meeting with the Wizards. The Latvian Laser canned eight triples, including a number of impossibly difficult shots in the second half. In two games against the Hornets this season, he’s averaging 26 points while hitting 14 of his 23 3-point attempts.
The Hornets will need to hit shots to keep up with him and the rest of the Wizards potent offensive attack. They’ve been struggling with that lately—the Hornets offensive efficiency has been plummeting the last month or so. Tonight’s game gives them an opportunity to reverse that trend.