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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Washington Wizards Preview

The Blazers look to bounce back.

Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (16-25) vs Washington Wizards (22-20)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena in the second game of a six game road trip. The Blazers are coming off of a blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets dropping them to 2-14 on the road for the season. The Wizards come into this matchup winners of three straight over the Orlando Magic twice and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Wizards are looking to continue their winning streak against another struggling team.

Saturday, January 15- 4:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), CJ McCollum (out), Larry Nance Jr. (out), Norman Powell (out), Cody Zeller (out)
Wizards injuries: Bradley Beal (out), Davis Bertans (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: Bullets Forever

What To Watch For

  • Wizards by committee. All the way back in November, the Wizards held the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 10-3. That seems like forever ago, especially when you consider that was the point of the season that the Blazers were about to be 10-8 after a win streak and fans still had hope in a good playoff seed. However, what was lost in that early season streak for the Wizards was just how well the whole team played. Bradley Beal struggled out of the gates but had his slack picked up by the rest of the team. The Wizards will look to recapture that magic of team play with their number one scorer sidelined for this contest. The Wizards are 6-2 without Beal to date, and a matchup against the floundering Blazers in Washington is unlikely to yield any unpredictable results.
  • Young Blazers. With Anfernee Simons returning to action after taking time off for personal reasons, the Blazers young core is back to full strength. Simons and Nassir Little have thrived in their starting roles averaging a combined 31.4 points, 7.6 assists, and 8.2 rebounds per game over a total of 25 starts. In the most recent game against the Nuggets, Trendon Watford and CJ Elleby were the leading minute-getters off the bench for the Blazers. All four will be extremely important for this contest.
  • Can the Blazers win on the road? Here’s a list of all the teams with a worse road record than the Blazers: None. The Blazers are the worst team on the road this season with an abysmal 2-14 record on the road. The Wizards are missing their best player in Beal, but the Blazers are missing their top three scorers too. The Wizards have their work cut out for them. However, the Blazers will have to start winning at some point on the road from a statistical standpoint. The Pistons were 7-29 on the road last year, worst in the league. The Blazers are better than the Pistons last year, so at some point they have to win on the road. Right?

What Others Are Saying

Kevin Broom of Bullets Forever talked about Thomas Bryant’s season debut and the impact it had on the Wizards in their most recent game.

In his first action, Bryant demonstrated what he’ll add, as well as what he does that might hurt. On the plus side, he hit a three and scored a bucket at-rim, grabbed a rebound and had an assist in just under 12 minutes of playing time.

He instantly became the team’s best screener. He set a variety of picks for ball handlers, including screens, re-screens, slips, rolls and fades. The three-pointer came on a screen-and-fade to the corner. His assist came when he attacked a closeout at the three-point line, drew a defender and dished to Deni Avdija. His offensive skills add dimension to the center position the team lacked.

Cody Taylor of The Rookie Wire talked about the progression of Corey Kispert over the course of this season,

The 15th pick earned his first start of the season on Dec. 23, producing a career-high 20 points in a win over the New York Knicks. Since that point, Kispert is averaging 9.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 28.3 minutes on 45.2% shooting from the field in 11 games, including six starts.

The recent uptick in playing time has really expedited his development.

Kispert is playing with the Wizards’ first unit for longer stretches now, compared to the start of the season when he wasn’t seeing much playing time. In fact, prior to entering the starting lineup versus the Knicks, Kispert was averaging just 3.9 points in 13.1 minutes per game.