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Washington Wizards at Portland Trail Blazers Preview

The struggling Wizards pay a visit to Moda Center.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After losing seven games in a row, the Portland Trail Blazers pulled out a reasonably satisfying win against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. Now they face a team they really should beat in the Washington Wizards. DraftKings agrees, making the Blazers 3.5 point favorites.

The Wizards come into Moda Center having won only 2 of their last 19 games. They’ll at least be fresh, having had two days off since their 143-131 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Monday. The Wizards will be on the first night of an away back-to-back, playing the Blazers before finishing their road trip against the Golden State Warriors. After that they return to D. C. for a homestand where they will likely lose some more games.

Washington Wizards (4-22) at Portland Trail Blazers (7-19) - Thursday, Dec. 21 - 7:00 p.m. Pacific

How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass

Trail Blazers injuries: Robert Williams III (out), Shaedon Sharpe (out)

Wizards injuries: Delon Wright (out), Johnny Davis (out), Landry Shamet (out), Danilo Gallinari (questionable)

SBNation Affiliate: Bullets Forever

Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions

desperationshot2:

Higher trade value Kyle Kuzma or Jerami Grant?

What a great question. I’d say Grant but it’s very close. Kuzma has a more digestible contract that has a declining salary structure until it expires after the 2026-27 season. Grant’s salary increases every season and he has a player option for the 2027-28 season before his contract expires. Kuzma also earns less money every year of his contract than Grant. The fact is though that Grant is just more useful. If you squint a bit you could imagine Grant being the missing ingredient for a Championship team. Ok, maybe you have to squint more than a little bit, but it’s possible. While Kuzma is a fine player, I just can’t come up with even a hypothetical team where Kuzma is the difference maker. The other factor to keep in mind is that by all accounts the Blazers have no intention of trading Jerami and at least so far he seems to be happy with that state of affairs. That means that it would take a very aggressive offer for the Blazers to part with him. I don’t think you can say the same thing for Kuzma on the Wizards.

Thanks for the question!

What To Watch For

  • Rebounds. One of the things I like to do is go to stats.nba.com, go to the teams section and look for how our next opponent stacks up against the rest of the NBA in various statistical categories. To my surprise, the Wizards are not bad in a lot of typical statistics: For example, Washington is fifth in field goals made, seventh in field goal percentage and sixth in assists. A look at rebounds though - and yeesh. Wow, those numbers are brutal. I like to look at advanced stats for rebounds, and somehow the Wizards are last in the NBA in offensive, defensive and total rebound percentage. And if you don’t buy the new-fangled advanced stats, the Wizards are also last in rebounds per game. These guys just don’t board. It’s probably safe to say that if the Blazers get outrebounded by Washington things are probably pretty bleak in Moda Center.

What Others Are Saying

Believe it or not, Tyron Montgomery of Inside the Wizards sees improvement with the Wizards lately.

It is always good to give credit when it is due. Wes Unseld deserves some credit here. He hasn’t been making the right decisions in his coaching and rotations a lot thus far this season. However, he seems to be finding something that works. That something is the combination of Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole.

The Wizards are looking to move out of downtown D.C. and into a complex in Northern Virginia with a price tag of $2.2 billion. Jonathan O’Connell, Teo Armus, Laura Vozzella and Sam Fortier of the Washington Post have the details.

The net cost to taxpayers would ultimately reach an estimated $1.35 billion, according to the study. That includes $1.15 billion directly for the project — more than any comparable facility on record, according to J.C. Bradbury, a Kennesaw State economics professor who studies sports facilities and reviewed the study for The Post.

Martenzie Johnson of Andscape writes that leaving the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington D.C. would leave a lot of people behind.

To move the team to Northern Virginia, which is whiter than Washington and has a reputation for being less hospitable to Black people, can be seen as an affront to that history and the Black people (Washington is now just 45% African American) who support the team.