Washington Wizards Preview: 3 Keys To Beating The Orlando Magic…Again


After such a disappointing game against the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this week, we all needed a small break from Washington Wizards basketball.

The Wizards have dropped three straight games and haven’t looked great all season long thus far. Their victory against the San Antonio Spurs was supposed help them gain the necessary momentum to go on a serious run, but obviously, that’s not what happened. Instead, the Wizards have looked like one of the worst teams in the league — dropping three games consecutively in equally disappointing fashion.

We’ll forget this past week ever happened. It’s an 82-game season, after all. Let’s just move on.

On Saturday night at 7pm EST, the Wizards will look to get their second home victory of the season against the Orlando Magic. Ironically, the Wizards beat the Magic on their season opener in Orlando.

Here’s what they need to do to get another win against the new-look Magic:

Crash the boards

Rebounding has never been a real issue for the Washington Wizards until this season.

Moving Kris Humphries into the starting lineup was supposed to increase the team’s rebounding totals, but that hasn’t been the case. Both Marcin Gortat and Humphries have left a lot to be desired and coach Randy Wittman wasn’t pleased.

After a poor effort against the Thunder, Wittman threw Gortat under the bus in front of the media. Wittman and Gortat have a love-hate relationship, so it wasn’t surprising to see Wittman call his starting center out. Was it the best move in the world? Probably not. Having beef with a your own player within the media is never a good thing.

I don’t expect this to become a back-and-forth ordeal between Gortat and Wittman, but it is strange for it to happen this early in the season.

Regardless, Gortat has to do a better job on the glass. He’s playing — to put it bluntly — soft. He needs to do a better job of positioning himself inside and keeping the defender off the glass. Giving up extra chances when the defense is already weak is damaging to the team’s confidence.

Tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Magic are the fifth best rebounding team in the NBA.

Nikola Vucevic is one of the best rebounding bigs in the entire league. Gortat has to keep him off the boards. Aaron Gordon, Tobias Harris and the rest of Orlando’s bigs do a solid job of contributing in the rebounding department as well.

Washington has to do a better job and matching physicality is key. Right now, they’re getting bullied inside. Securing rebounds and pushing the ball are the two main factors in having a successful up-tempo offense. If you’re not grabbing rebounds, you’re giving up extra chances and your defense suffers as a result.

No more easy baskets

I’m afraid of even looking up where the Washington Wizards stand in defensive efficiency. OK, so they’re one of the worst defensive teams in the league. When you’re giving up 125 points to the Kevin Durant-less Thunder, you’re doing something wrong.

The Magic are 20th in points per game, so they’re not exactly lighting the league on fire. Victor Oladipo, who’s one of their primary offensive options, isn’t expected to play on Saturday.

Still, when a team is matched up against a poor defensive club, they salivate.

Players like Harris, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier and Mario Hezonja look forward to playing against a bad defensive club. Scott Skiles has never been an offensive mastermind, but the players he’s working with can all score in transition.

Washington has to get back on defense. The Magic will run them out of the gym if they don’t. I mean, they just beat the Utah Jazz and Saturday’s game will be the second game on a back-to-back. There’s no reason to give up easy transition baskets when the Washington Wizards are well-rested and the opposing team is playing their second game in as many nights.

Protect home court

The Verizon Center has never been rockin’. We all know that. Unless its a playoff game or a contest against a contender, it’s tough to get the fans from D.C. cheering. That’s why the Washington Wizards need to embrace home court and give them something to cheer about.

Losing to a team like the New York Knicks earlier this season hurt. The fans aren’t engaged, and while it’s easy to blame them, the Wizards aren’t giving them anything to cheer about.

The Magic are much improved and will hunt for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Wizards are supposed to be competing for a top spot in the conference. Everyone in the locker room — including John Wall and Bradley Beal — believes the team is capable of competing against the East’s best. So, why not act like it?

Next: Porter Giving Washington Much Needed Consistency

The Magic aren’t an easy win, but the Washington Wizards have to protect home court. Come out strong, set the tone and force the Magic to play your ballgame. The Wizards have fell into traps way too often this season. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that a Wizards game is even happening. Give us something to cheer for. Start strong and close it out.