The Wizards head to Oakland to take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors tonight at Oracle Arena.
Oracle Arena | 10:30 p.m. | NBCSW/NBATV | 1500 AM
Wizards (3-1): G – Wall, G – Beal, F – Porter Jr., F – Oubre Jr., C – Gortat
Warriors (3-2): G – Curry, G – Thompson, F – Durant, F – Green, C – Pachulia
Wizards: Markieff Morris (Sports Hernia – Out), Sheldon Mac (Achilles – Out), Ian Mahinmi (Ankle – Questionable)
Warriors: Shaun Livingston (Personal – Out)
Wiz Coming Off First Loss
The Wizards enter tonight’s game in an unfamiliar spot as they look to bounce back from a tough loss for the first time this season. They let Wednesday’s game in L.A. get away from them, something that will happen throughout an 82 game season, but something that never sits well with a team that has aspirations to be a top seed. Despite leading for the entire second half, the Wizards faltered down the stretch and the Lakers rallied to tie the score with less than a second left, and then took the game in overtime.
Now, we’ll see how resilient the Wizards can be as they look to bounce back against the defending champion Warriors tonight. Playing against a team with as much talent as Golden State provides a good test to any team to see how they stand against the very best. The Wizards know it will take everything they have to beat this Warriors team in their own building, but it may not seem as impossible this early in the season. The Warriors did lose their home opener to the Rockets and this past Wednesday the Raptors nearly pulled off the upset, but also let a late lead slip away.
Ian Mahinmi (ankle) left Wednesday’s game with an ankle injury and has been listed as questionable tonight. The Wizards did get F/C Jason Smith back on Wednesday after he missed two games with a shoulder injury and he’d likely fill in at the C spot behind Marcin Gortat if Mahinmi can’t play tonight.
Battle in Backcourt
This has been a big storyline between these two teams for the last few years, but now it can be truly billed as the best in the East vs. the best in the West. These may be the two best backcourts in the league and when they go head-to-head, it makes for exciting basketball. John Wall hasn’t shot the ball well since being out West (10/35), but he’s averaging 10.5 assists per game on the trip and the Wizards need a big performance from him tonight to pull off the upset. Bradley Beal has scored at least 20 points in every game this season, despite shooting just 26% from 3-point range. A big reason why he’s still putting up points has been his ability to get to the line, as he’s averaging eight free throw attempts per game. As for Golden State, Steph Curry has also scored at least 20 points in every game and has averaged just under 30 per game through his first five games. He’s also 47/47 from the free-throw line and dating back to last year has made 49 straight free-throws. Klay Thompson has the longest active 3-point streak in the league, as he’s made at least one 3-pointer in 59 straight games. He’s one of the game’s best shooters and has shot it at 47% from 3-point range this season.
We could see these backcourts combine for over 100 points tonight so tune in from the start.
Warriors Remain Team to Beat
The Warriors may be 3-2 and through the first week of the season may not look invincible like they have the past couple of years, but this is still the team to beat in the NBA. They are the defending champions and have been to three straight NBA Finals, losing a total of nine home games over the last three years. They returned 12 of their 15 players from last year’s title team and similar to the Wizards have the same starting five from last season. They have four all-stars and already lead the Western Conference in scoring, averaging 120 points per game. The last few seasons they’ve also been one of the best defensive teams in the league, but through their first five games they haven’t been as good on that end and rank 25th in the NBA giving up 113.6 points per game.
The Wizards will wrap up the trip on Sunday when they head to Sacramento to take on the Kings.