Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs

Washington Wizards Jordan McRae Derrick White (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Jordan McRae Derrick White (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Some people are counting the San Antonio Spurs out of a loaded Western Conference race. Hopefully, the Washington Wizards don’t take them lightly.

Washington Wizards record versus San Antonio Spurs last season: 0-2

Spurs lost: Davis Bertans, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter, Donatas Motiejunas

Spurs added: Luka SamanicDeMarre Carroll, Keldon Johnson, Trey Lyles

Will this be the first season since 1996 win which the San Antonio Spurs miss out on the playoffs? I don’t think so, but it seems more likely than ever. If they don’t make it, they can meet up with the Washington Wizards are the draft lottery.

That being said, the Spurs still have two lethal offensive weapons in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. And when you look up and down their roster, they aren’t as devoid of talent as some of the narratives may have you thinking. Dejounte Murray is an All-Defensive caliber player. Derrick White is fresh off of a stint (albeit unimpressive) with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. Gregg Popovich is, well, Gregg Popovich.

The Spurs are never a team to take lightly and this year, regardless of what you’ve been told, is no exception. The Spurs swept the Wizards in their season series last year and they have a chance to do it again this season. The Spurs present a pace and matchup problem that could give the Wizards fits.

Last season, the Spurs ranked 22nd in the NBA in pace, per Basketball-Reference. It’s their highest ranking since they were the 17th fastest team during the 2014-15 season.  The Wizards aren’t necessarily an incredibly fast team. However, they do lack reliable scoring threats in the halfcourt that aren’t named Bradley Beal.

If the Spurs can slow Beal and slow down the game, the Wizards could have a hard time cracking the Spurs defense. Not many of their players can create their own shots at an elite level. If San Antonio is successful on the defensive end, these could be two long and low-scoring games for the Washington Wizards. Luckily, the only two players to score at least 15 points in each of last season’s contests with the Spurs (Beal and Bryant) are back.

Wizards to Watch

Who knows why the San Antonio Spurs traded Davis Bertans. Technically it was because they thought they were receiving Marcus Morris, but even then, he doesn’t really fit the traditional Spurs mold as well as Bertans does.

Maybe it has to do with Popovich undervaluing a “circus shot” sharpshooter like Bertans, but it’s probably a trade they’ll end up regretting if they haven’t already.

Bertans is already enjoying a larger role with the Wizards than he ever dis with the Spurs. Through two games he’s averaged 7.5 three-point attempts in 28 minutes per game. Both those numbers dwarf his season-highs in San Antonio: 4.4 attempts per game in just 21.5 minutes. His repertoire will be on full display when he faces off versus San Antonio.

Revenge games are always fun, but if Bertans starts lighting it up against his former squad, his performances could be especially exciting. Bertans has a quick trigger from outside and it’s unclear whether he has a conscious from out there. The guy will not hesitate to let it fly.

As I said, revenge games are always fun. But they’re a little sweeter when revenge is achieved through a series of spirit-breaking three balls.

2019-20 Game Predictions

Saturday, October 26 in San Antonio

Fun fact: The Wizards haven’t won in San Antonio since December 1999.

The Washington Wizards get their first back-to-back of the season for their second and third game. So much for easing into things. To make matters worse, there are injuries up and down the roster already. Fingers crossed for a net-scorching revenge game from Davis Bertans, but don’t expect a short-handed Wizards squad to pull out a win in this one.

Next. Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: OKC Thunder. dark

Wednesday, November 20 in D.C.

In an odd twist of scheduling, the Wizards finish up their two-game series with the Spurs less than one month into the season. Most of the nagging injuries that plagued the Wizards in their first contest will be healed up by now. However, there’s still a large talent discrepancy between these two teams. And it favors the Spurs. Another season, another pair of losses to Popovich and company.