Preview: Washington Wizards look to keep things rolling with Utah Jazz in town

The Washington Wizards are looking to follow up their win over the Atlanta Hawks, with another victory on Sunday with the Utah Jazz in town.

To the surprise of many, the Washington Wizards have won three of their last four games,.All of those wins have come without Bradley Beal. The entire roster has adopted a “next man up” mantra, and you never know which guy off the bench will have his career-night next.

The Utah Jazz, after an incredibly slow start, have now won eight straight games, putting their record at 26-12, which is good enough for fourth in the Western Conference. Rudy Gobert is playing like he’s after a third Defensive Player of the Year award, and Donovan Mitchell is thriving in Mike Conley‘s absence. Conley is currently dealing with a hamstring injury and has appeared in just one game since December 3, 2019.

Washington Wizards to Watch

The deciding player for this game may just be Bradley Beal, who’s missed five straight games now with lower leg soreness. He remains listed as ‘questionable’ headed into Washington’s matchup with Utah. Head coach Scott Brooks says that both Beal and big man Thomas Bryant practiced Saturday with the team.

If Beal is active, the Wizards will have a legitimate chance against a team that has arguably three All-Star candidates.

This season, Beal is averaging 27.8 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. He’s scored 30 or more points in 14 of the 31 games he has played. Washington will need his scoring versatility against the Jazz’s defense, which is ranked eighth in the league, per NBA.com.

If Thomas Bryant returns, he could a big lift. The Wizards have been getting crushed on the glass with Bryant and Moritz Wagner injured. Bryant is averaging 8.5 rebounds a game, with 2.3 of those being offensive. That type of frontcourt help would be huge against Rudy Gobert. If Bryant can’t go, it’ll be up to Ian Mahinmi and Anzejs Pasecniks to slow down Utah’s All-NBA center.

Utah Jazz to Watch

With the list of injuries still long in Washington, the stage is set for Bojan Bogdanović to have a big game.

The former Wizard is averaging 20.7 points while shooting 41.9 percent from behind the arc this season. Among Utah’s shooter, Bogdanovic is most likely to expose Washington’s subpar perimeter defense. Bogdanovic is a bonafide scorer, and he recently proved it by dropping 35-points against the New Orleans Pelicans without recording a single assist, rebound, steal, or block.

Most eyes, however, will be on All-Star Donovan Mitchell. With Mike Conley out, Mithcell has shifted to point guard. In the 17 games since Conley went down, Mitchell is averaging 23.8 points and 5.5 assists per contest.

Additionally, Utah’s aforementioned two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is bound to make an impact on this game. Gobert is averaging 14.6 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game this season, and he’s coming fresh off of a five-block performance against the Charlotte Hornets.

Washington will have their hands full with a legitimate contender in town. If Beal is available, and the defense can continue to show up as it has, then the Wizards may have a shot at pulling off the upset.

Next: Are the Wizards better without Bradley Beal?
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