The Wizards begin their 2017-18 campaign tonight at Capital One Arena.
Capital One Arena | 7:00pm | ESPN | 1500 AM | Buy Tickets
Wizards: G – Wall, G – Beal, F – Porter, F – Smith, C – Gortat
Sixers: G – Bayless, G – Redick, F – Simmons, F – Covington, C – Embiid
Wizards: Markieff Morris (Sports Hernia – Out), Sheldon Mac (Achilles – Out)
Sixers: Joel Embiid (Knee/Ankle – Probable), Richaun Holmes (Wrist – Out)
The regular season has finally arrived as the Wizards get set to play their first meaningful game since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Boston last May. The Wizards will begin their season tonight at home against the Philadelphia 76ers, the first time the Wizards have opened a season at home since the 2011-12 shortened season. Scott Brooks told the media after Tuesday’s practice that while not everyone would admit to it, everyone involved with the season opener will feel a few butterflies in the stomach, something he prefers, because “it means you care.” While the Wizards return many of their core players from last season and while they have played five games in the preseason, there’s always a little bit of uncertainly, excitement, and a feeling of a fresh start when both teams look up at the scoreboard and see both records at 0-0.
Just to add to the buzz of the season opener, before the opening tip the entire team will be introduced to the crowd for the first time, fans will have LED wristbands that will light up at different points of the opening festivities, and the fans will be treated to watch the brand new opening video.
Wizards at PF
While four of the starters for the season opener are a lock, Scott Brooks has yet to reveal who he will tap as his starting power forward with Markieff Morris sidelined after a sports hernia surgery. The most likely candidate would be Jason Smith, who started at that spot in the final two preseason games and played the most minutes with that starting group. Smith started three games last season and has turned himself into a legitimate 3-point shooter, shooting it at 47% last year. If he does get the nod, expect Mike Scott to log minutes behind Smith and play a significant role as one of the team’s reserves in the front court. The Sixers do present some matchup issues with Ben Simmons, so the Wizards may go with their small lineup and play Otto Porter Jr. or Kelly Oubre Jr. at the PF spot as well, so this will be something to watch in the opener.
Brooks did say that he may elect to change who starts at the PF spot from game to game until Morris returns, so that will be something monitored during the first month of the season.
Next Step of The Process
The Sixers could be the great mystery team of 2017-18. They are loaded with talent, but their young core has yet to play an NBA game together, and they have two number one picks, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, who will be making their NBA debuts tonight in DC. Their 2014 lottery pick, Joel Embiid, has a chance to be one of the brightest centers in the league, but he’s been hampered with injuries over his first three seasons, and he’s expected to be on a minutes count in tonight’s contest. They added veterans like J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson to help bring some veteran leadership to this young group, but it may take a little bit of time before it all comes together. This Sixers team could be a playoff team or they could take some time to gel and go through the growing pains this season. But, as they showed the Wizards last year, they played hard every night, and they played an exciting brand of basketball, something we expect to continue in 2017-18.