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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Washington Wizards Preview

The Trail Blazers will try and stay undefeated against the Wizards’ star guard duo.

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (2-0) vs. Washington Wizards (0-2)

Monday, October 22 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Wizards injuries: Dwight Howard (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Bullets Forever

The Blazers are trying to start the new season in style with a three-game win streak at home. Damian Lillard is averaging 28.5 points per game early, and the Portland bench has provided some kick. The second unit scored 41 points in the Blazers’ 121-108 win over LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

On the other hand, the Wizards are just trying to right the ship after two straight losses, both by under four points. The Toronto Raptors dropped Washington on their home court despite the absence of Kawhi Leonard, and John Wall’s squad would love to get things on track in Portland.

What to watch for

  • How will things change with Howard out? Offseason acquisition Dwight Howard has not yet played this season for the Wizards with a back injury. He has been ruled out for the game, meaning Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins will have an easier time with Ian Mahinmi, who is averaging just 2.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and four fouls per contest.
  • Can the Blazers bench keep it up? Portland’s bench unit has been the story of the season thus far, with Nik Stauskas, Seth Curry, and Zach Collins providing some strong play even when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are resting. However, the backups got out to a similar start last season, scoring 101 points through the Blazers’ first two games. Portland would finish the year 27th in bench scoring.
  • Who stops Bradley Beal? Beal was a major nuisance for Portland last season, averaging 38.5 points per game as the teams split the season series. Containing Beal will be a major point of emphasis for the Blazers.

What they’re saying

Michael D. Sykes II of Bullets Forever applauded Otto Porter Jr. for contributing in all facets of the game:

Whether he passed up looks or just didn’t get up shots, Porter was great. He defended, deflected passes, switched when needed and stood up bigs. He was the Wizards’ safety pin when things were falling apart. He only got up seven shots and scored nine points, but he also led both teams with 11 rebounds, registered three steals and three blocks without committing a turnover. That’s doing your part.

Candace Buckner of the Washington Post asked a familiar question for Portland fans about when the team will break up their star guards:

They will forever be tied together. John Wall and Bradley Beal, arguably the greatest backcourt the Washington Wizards have ever had. Wall owns the most assists in team history. On Saturday night, Beal joined him in the record books as the franchise’s leader in made three-pointers.

And yet, will there come a time when the Wizards pull the plug on their pillars?

Jen Julie Smith of Wiz of Awes asks that the team allow Porter to lead the second unit to spread out the Washington attack:

The Wizards have weapons, why not spread them out? Why make it easier for the opponent, and show them mercy to start the second? Washington is helping other teams and hurting themselves by always clustering their three best players in one segment of the game.