ORLANDO -- The success that the Wizards had vs. the Orlando Magic last season could be attributed to John Wall's and Bradley Beal's domination of their inexperienced backcourt. Tonight, they open the regular season at Amway Center against a team that looks similar to that one though they'll be different under Scott Skiles as coach.
The Wizards beat the Magic four times, 105-98, 98-93, 91-89 and 96-80, last season. Their first regular-season win came here.
"Me and Brad got to lead the way. We have great other pieces in March and Nene and all those guys, Gary Neal, and Otto (Porter) and Kelly (Oubre) can step up and give us some leeway. But they've got a great big man in (Nikola) Vucevic," Wall said. "Then you've got Tobias Harris that kind of fits what you want, like a stretch four that can spread the floor and knock down shots, we know we're playing against a good team that's playing differently now because they've got a new coach that's definitely defensively oriented. That's why we got to make sure we take care of the ball against those guys."
Although Elfrid Payton, a rookie, was hailed as the second coming of Gary Payton on the defensive end, Wall took liberties with him in their first meeting as the two-time All-Star had 30 points and 12 assists.
The one perimeter player the Wizards consistently had trouble containing was Evan Fournier, who came off of screens for repeated open shots. Gortat has to keep Vucevic in front of him and be aware of Fournier and the like.
"All depends on how the point guards attack from Orlando. It depends who's attacking, too," Gortat said of defending the pick-and-roll better. "If you have a Fournier who is more of a shooter than Payton who is more of a passer and penetrator, then obviously it's a different coverage."
Wizards coach Randy Wittman doesn't want to hear anything about last season. It's old news in his mind.
"Last year doesn't play into anything. It's a new year," he said. "They've got a new coach, new players, a new system so I don't go into anything based on what we do previous years against somebody."