When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Capital One Arena; Washington, DC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Washington Wizards are among the bigger surprises through the opening weeks of the NBA season. With an impressive 11-5 record they are just half a game out of first place in the Eastern Conference. But the Hornets have also looked good as of late. Charlotte’s five-game winning streak was snapped Saturday by the Haws, and the Hornets streak included a 97-87 win against the Wizards just five days ago. These two teams know each other well.
Washington Wizards overview
Guard Bradley Beal is doing less scoring this year but the team is winning more. Beal averaged over 30 points per game in each of the last two seasons but has seen his scoring taper off to 23.7 points this year, including a career-low 27.8% from the 3-point line. But he continues to do everything else with 5.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game as the unquestioned leader of this team.
The Wizards three next most important players are all new to Washington this year. Big man Montrezl Harrell is averaging an efficient 17.1 points per game (on 64.3% shooting) with 8.4 rebounds off the bench. Guard Spencer Dinwiddie played just three games last season but is rounding back into shape this year averaging 15.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Former Laker Kyle Kuzma averages 13.6 points and a career-high 9.2 rebounds per game.
Other key contributors include wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (9.6 PPG), big man Daniel Gafford (8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG), and forward Deni Avdija (6.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG). Honestly, the Wizards don’t look overly intimating on paper - aside from Bradley Beal - but they’ve been getting the job done this year.
How the Hornets can win
Simple - just repeat the formula from last Wednesday’s victory. In that 10-point home win the Hornets defense allowed just 36 second half points. Charlotte’s suffocating wing defense caused Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope, and Dinwiddie to shoot a combined 3-of-23 which was the biggest reason the Hornets came away with a win.
On the offensive end for the Hornets, LaMelo Ball racked up a career-high 14 assists in last week’s meeting while reserves Kelly Oubre and Jalen McDaniels combined for 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting. In addition to strong bench play, the Hornets need to get Terry Rozier in some sort of shooting rhythm. He’s hitting just 25.3% of his 3-point attempt this year after hitting just below 40% over his two previous seasons. Terry has hit just 2-of-16 3-pointers over his last three games and he really needs to get back on track to help open up the offense.
This matchup between two credible playoff teams could have big implications on year-end records. Let’s see if the Hornets can make it two wins in two weeks against their Southeast division foe.
What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?
Hornets win easy
Hornets win a close one
Wizards win a close one
Wizards win easy