Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: Indiana Pacers

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Victor Oladipo (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Victor Oladipo (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Against one of the Eastern Conference contenders, the Wizards will have to hope their All-Star guard is better than the one in Indiana.

Washington Wizards record last season versus the Indiana Pacers: 1-3

Indiana lost: Bojan Bogdanovich, Cory Joseph, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, Wesley Matthews, Thaddeus Young

Indiana added: Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, T.J. McConnell, Goga Bitadze, Justin Holiday

The obvious question for the Pacers heading into this season is ‘When will Victor Oladipo return?’ And when he does, how will he play? With Oladipo in the lineup last season, the Pacers were well on their way to becoming an Eastern Conference contender, or so it seemed. An unfortunate injury and several departures by their top players from a season ago leave a lot of unanswered questions in Indiana, though.

With Bojan Bogdanovich, Cory Joseph, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans, Wesley Matthews, and Thaddeus Young all leaving in the offseason, the Pacers are losing six players that averaged at least 20 minutes last season. That’s six of the top nine players in terms of minutes per game, per Basketball-Reference.

They’ve added some incredibly talented pieces to replace what they lost, though. Malcolm Brogdon is coming off a 50-40-90 season, and T.J. Warren should help with the scoring while Oladipo continues to rehab for the first few months of the season. But losing that many pieces in one summer are tough, especially such integral parts of a competitive team. It’ll take some time for these new teammates to figure things out. Once they do, though, and once Oladipo is healthy, this Pacers squad could rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. Come playoff time, I doubt many teams will want to matchup against the Pacers, regardless of where they’re seeded.

The Pacers still have Myles Turner and Dontas Sabonis, who has become quite the formidable frontcourt pair. Turner is a defensive stalwart. He finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season and led the NBA with 2.7 blocks per game. Turner will present a good challenge for Thomas Bryant, whose strength is on the offensive end. If he can be even somewhat successful against an established rim protector like Turner, he’ll certainly be worth that $25 million deal.

Wizards to Watch

The Wizards struggled mightily against the Pacers last season. They scored less than 90 in a late December loss and even fell to the Pacers without Oladipo in February. But Wizards forwards did seem to find some success against last season’s Pacers teams, even in losses.

In their first meeting last season, Kelly Oubre came off the bench and shot 64 percent from the floor on his way to a 23-point, six-rebound night. Later that month, Markieff Morris dropped 16 points with six rebounds in another loss to the Pacers. Fast-forward to late January, where Jeff Green scored 23 points plus five rebounds and six assists on an even 50 percent shooting from the floor. Green was the Wizards’ second-leading scorer behind Beal in that game, their only win versus Indiana all season. And in their final matchup, it was Jabari Parker shooting 50 percent from the field, adding 12 points and four rebounds off the bench.

So while it was never the same Wizards forward going off against the Pacers, there was a Wizard forward that always seemed to find success. But none of those names are still on the roster this season. Instead, Rui Hachimura headlines the new crop of forwards in Washington. Whether he comes off the bench or starts, look for Hachimura to have some big performances against the Pacers this season. Don’t be surprised in fellow rookie forward Admiral Schofield is filling the stat sheet versus Indiana, too.

2019-20 Game Predictions

Wednesday, November 6 in Indiana

Oladipo won’t be back by this time. The Pacers will have a lot of new faces and probably some chemistry issues this early. But let’s be honest. The Wizards will have just as many new faces, just as many question marks…and a lot less talent. Pacers take the first one.

Sunday, April 5 in Indiana

Unfortunately, the Wizards don’t see the Pacers again until very late in the season. Far after Oladipo has returned to the court. By now, the Pacers should have things figured out, hitting their stride heading into the playoffs. The Wizards, on the other hand…not so much. Another Pacers win.

Next. Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers. dark

Wednesday, April 15 in Washington

The final game of the season. It could go either way. The Pacers could be playing for playoff seeding, or they could pack it in and rest up before the playoffs. The Wizards will undoubtedly be playing for next season by now. Pacers three. WIzards zero.