Preview: Washington Wizards return home with fresh legs versus Atlanta Hawks

The Washington Wizards will return home on Friday night for a matchup with Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.

After a disappointing loss to the Orlando Magic, the Washington Wizards hope to get their third win in four games. And they’ll have some fresh legs in the fold to help them do so.

Washington entered their last contest with just eight healthy players available. Headed into Friday night, Davis Bertans will be returning from injury.

And he may not be the only Wizard making a comeback to the lineup. Bradley Beal has missed four-straight games, and is listed as ‘questionable’ for the matchup with the Atlanta Hawks.

Atlanta’s had similar issues. Young big man John Collins has missed 25 games this season due to a drug-related suspension, and Jabari Parker is out for two weeks with shoulder impingement.

Washington Wizards to Watch

It’ll be interesting to see how Bertans plays, and whether or not he’ll provide a boost for Washington. After sitting for the last nine games, Bertans could come back with fresh legs. or with rust.

A three-point marksman, Bertans has played such huge role in this Wizards offense this season. The ‘Latvian Laser’ is averaging 15.4 points and 4.9 rebounds and making 43.4 percent of his three-point attempts.

Without Thomas Bryant and Mortiz Wagner, the Wizards have struggled on and off the glass.

But Atlanta, even with Collins healthy, allowed 39 collective rebounds to Houston’s PJ Tucker and Clint Capela in their most recent loss to Houston.

In January, Washington’s defense has slightly (slight) improved, so watch for Washington to force plenty of turnovers plenty against the Hawks. Atlanta currently leads the league in turnovers per game (16.7). But that all starts with Atlanta’s number one guy.

Keys to Victory

The route to a victory over Atlanta takes a number of paths. Mostly because they’re a young, inexperienced basketball team inside and out. There are a lot of things the Wizards can take advantage of.

But no doubt, each of those paths starts and ends with point guard Trae Young. He’s the only reason the Hawks even have eight wins through almost forty games.

On the season, Young is averaging 29.2 points and 8.5 assists on a 44/37/85 shooting split in just his second NBA season. And he’s coming off a 42-point triple double against the Houston Rockets.

Washington will likely divvy up the defensive responsibilities of guarding Young between Gary Payton II, Troy Brown Jr, and Beal (if he’s available). In their loss to the Rockets, Atlanta had just three other players score in double figures and the Hawks were still able to score 115 as a team..

For once, Washington will be playing a team that’s almost as bad as they are on defense. Per NBA.com, Atlanta has the 28th ranked defense with a 113.2 rating. The Wizards are 30th.

Next: Wizards need to trade Davis Bertans

But Washington does have a top-10 ranked offense (eighth-best offensive rating in the NBA). And they’ve been able to maintain their offensive stature despite their plethora of injuries. On Friday night, an unstoppable force may meet the immovable object, boosting Washington to a home win.

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