Washington Wizards Preview: 3 Things to watch for vs. the Orlando Magic

Washington Wizards Troy Brown Jr (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Troy Brown Jr (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

No. 1 – Who will Scott Brooks trust down the stretch?

With a shortened training camp and preseason, Scott Brooks is trying to figure out his most effective lineups on the fly. It’s still early in the season, but the Wizards will be shorthanded this weekend when they face the Orlando Magic two nights in a row. Rui Hachimura, Cassius Winston, and Garrison Mathews are all out due to injury. Russell Westbrook may sit out the second half of the back-to-back so his status for Sunday’s game is still up in the air. Regardless, Brooks won’t have all 15 of his players available on either night, so it’ll be important to find a unit that works well together.

The Washington Wizards have only played one game, but their starting five (even without Hachimura) looked really good against the Sixers. Russell Westbrook (+10), Bradley Beal (+6), Deni Avdija (+14), Thomas Bryant (+2), and Isaac Bonga (+7) all finished with a positive net rating. None of these players played a perfect game by any means but none of them lost the opening game for the Wizards. It was the other units that weren’t effective.

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In particular, the closing lineups that Scott Brooks went with at the end of the game didn’t necessarily work. The Wizards had a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter but were outscored 40-24 in the final frame. That’s completely unacceptable! The Wizards held the Sixers to 30 points or less in the first 3 quarters, so to give up 40 points in the fourth is terrible! Washington has high expectations this year so it’s important they close out these types of games against top teams in the East. According to Scott Brooks, “This year, there are no moral victories. We have to come out and keep competing.” The Wizards need to show this year is different and they can start this weekend against the Orlando Magic.