The Washington Wizards will quickly find out what their team is made of in the 2020-21 NBA season. Their first game is not an easy one.
The NBA released the first half of the schedule for the 2020-21 season, and the Washington Wizards won’t get to ease into this season. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, one of the East’s new and exciting duos, will be going up against an established Eastern Conference contender and feared duo that’s already done some winning together. The Wizards open their season on the road vs. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and the Philadelphia 76ers on December 23.
The Wizards will have a crucial test right out of the gate in a season in which they want to start fast. Adding Russell Westbrook, who won’t face the same minutes and back-to-back restrictions that John Wall would have, should help them do that. GM Tommy Sheppard certainly thinks so. And in a shortened season (the 2020-21 NBA season will only be 72 games), getting wins early and often will be as crucial as ever.
But it won’t be easy. The 76ers went 43-30 last season and entered the playoffs as a 6th seed before being swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round. However, Ben Simmons missed all four playoff games and they only lost one of them by more than eight points. The 2019-20 season was underwhelming for the 76ers, but they dominated the Wizards.
Last season, the Wizards went 1-2 vs the 76ers as Embiid and Simmons had their way with Washington’s porous defense. In three games last season vs Washington, Embiid averaged 25.3 points, 15 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks on 55 percent shooting. Simmons averaged 13.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.3 assists on 50 percent shooting. Stopping those two will be the key to an opening night win, but the 76ers improved elsewhere this offseason under new GM Daryl Morey. By adding Danny Green and Seth Curry around Embiid and Simmons, the 76ers should be even better this season.
If the Wizards want to prove they’re legit this season, a debut win for the Beal-Westbrook backcourt against one of the East’s contenders would certainly get the attention of the rest of the NBA.
If nothing else, this should be an exciting start to the season. Besides the inevitable Raul Neto revenge game (lol), this will be a fun introduction to life with Westbrook for Wizards fans. Westbrook and Embiid have a long-standing dislike for each other. Westbrook sums up their relationship pretty succinctly in the clip below. These guys just don’t like each other. For better or for worse, we may not have to wait long to see Westbrook go scorched earth in a Wizards jersey.
Immediately following the contest with the 76ers, the Wizards will face another important Eastern Conference foe. Their two following games will be vs the Orlando Magic, the Wizards’ biggest competition for the 8th seed last season. The Wizards were an incredibly disappointing 0-4 vs Orlando last season, but they could easily reverse those struggles with two quick wins.
You can check out the Washington Wizards’ first-half schedule here. Strap in Wizards fans, this season starts soon, and it’s going to be a wild ride.