The first game of the season was a complete disaster for the Washington Wizards. They were a no-show on the defensive end, allowing an embarrassing 143 points to the Indiana Pacers in a game in which the Wizards showed no resistance past the first quarter. Questionable rotation choices, foul trouble by Daniel Gafford, and an overall lack of defensive intensity rendered Washington uncompetitive in their season opener.
Now, they have a chance to give a glimpse of hope to their fans in their home opener against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, October 28th at 7 pm EST.
This is a perfect time to be facing the Grizzlies. Their superstar point guard Ja Morant is suspended, their big men rotation is completely gutted with the long-term injuries to Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, and they will be traveling to Washington for the second night of a back-to-back after playing the reigning champions the Denver Nuggets.
There simply can’t be a more opportune time to be facing this Memphis team.
The Washington Wizards need to come out of the gate with more defensive intensity and effort. They can’t afford to be outhustled as they did against the Indiana Pacers.
Gafford needs to stay out of foul trouble, Mike Muscala needs to play more in Danilo Gallinari’s stead, and Bilal Coulibaly has to play more minutes. The defensive strategy has to be better against the Grizzlies than it was against the Tyrese Haliburton-led Indiana.
Once again the key factor will be perimeter defense for the Wizards. Grizzlies start Marcus Smart and Desmond Bane in the backcourt; two players much bigger and stronger than Washington’s backcourt duo of Tyus Jones and Jordan Poole.
Coach Wes Unseld Jr. can’t be afraid to match Deni Avdija and Kyle Kuzma with their backcourt and utilize Coulibaly more with the starting lineup. If they are not able to put up more resistance at the point of attack, the Wizards will draw dead once again.
And if the Wizards suffer a dispiriting loss to a short-handed Grizzlies team, it will not be a good sign for what’s to come for the rest of the season.
Projected Wizards rotation
Tyus Jones, Jordan Poole, Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma, and Daniel Gafford will likely start for the Wizards.
Delon Wright, Corey Kispert, Bilal Coulibaly, Danilo Gallinari, and Mike Muscala should round out the rest of the rotation.
Projected Grizzlies rotation
Marcus Smart, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Xavier Tillman will start for the Grizzlies.
Derrick Rose, David Roddy, John Konchar, and Jake Laravia should also get minutes off the bench.
Grizzlies: Steven Adams – out, Santi Aldama – out, Brandon Clarke – out, Luke Kennard – out, Ja Morant – out
Wizards: Johnny Davis – out, Anthony Gill – out, Landry Shamet – out
Grizzlies are favored -1.5 over the Washington Wizards.