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What to expect from Wizards when regular season opens

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What to expect from Wizards when regular season opens

Now that the preseason is over, and the Wizards can focus on the Orlando Magic for Wednesday's regular-season opener, what can be expected in the early going? Based on their seven exhibition games in which they won four, here are my best guesses:

  • Kris Humphries, who started each game as the "stretch" power forward over Nene, will keep that role. He shot 10 of 28 from three-point range (35.7%), which is a huge improvement over his career average from long range when the games count 2 of 26 (less than 1%).  Although Drew Gooden would seem to be a better fit style-wise with the first group, the hope is that he's a better fit with the second group joining Nene.
  • John Wall had 22 turnovers in six preseason games, which is far too many but will be better. He clearly was taking risks, and even showboating at times, in ways that he wouldn't when the games count. Whether he'll be able to keep his turnovers to less than 3.0 per game is another matter. The Wizards play a fast pace and will have more possessions. But Wall won't be solely responsible for starting plays anymore. It's a reachable goal though most will bet against him being able to do it.
  • With Jared Dudley still not in form after returning from back surgery, Kelly Oubre will have to play a bigger role. "Bigger" here is a relative term. That doesn't mean he'll be averaging 20 minutes a game but that he'll get spot minutes behind Otto Porter. If he's able to hold is own, that's all that will be asked. Oubre can't focus on scoring or trying to do too much too early because coach Randy Wittman will have him on a short leash. It'll be defense and getting most of his buckets off hustle plays that keeps him on the floor. If he doesn't follow that script, he'll be parked on the bench and there could be more three-guard lineups to compensate.

MORE WIZARDS: WASHINGTON TRIMS ROSTER DOWN TO 15

  • Nene has a sore right calf, but him missing the last four games of the preseason is probably more of a precautionary move to make sure he's healthy. The 7-footer played in 67 games last season, his most since 2010-11. Martell Webster's right hip injury seems more serious, an arthritic condition that results in constant pain. It'll be up to him whether or not he can play through it. Based on the tone of what I've been told about Webster by multiple people, I'm not optimistic about his ability to contribute.  
  • Marcin Gortat will have his best season, his third, with Washington. The additional open space on the floor requires him to run the floor and move without the ball, which is the strength of his game. This will produce more easy finishes and with Gortat likely exceeding his field-goal accuracy of a year ago (56.6%), which is his highest as a starter in the NBA.

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers host Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre and the Washington Wizards on Monday night as they hope to move up in the everchanging ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

With the possibility of John Wall not playing, this game will be a big moment for the rest of the Wiziards players to step up and show the city what they can do. The Pacers, on the other hand, have been playing exceptionally well in their past 6 games.

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for pregame, postgame and live game coverage of Wizards at Raptors.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time…

WIZARDS at PACERS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers, 2018 NBA Regular Season, Game 27

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

When: Monday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards-Pacers will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can stream Wizards vs. Pacers live on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. After the game tonight, Wizards Postgame Live and Wizards Outsiders are streaming exclusively on the MyTeams app. Download MyTeams now for full postgame coverage and 24/7 Wizards news.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at PACERS TV SCHEDULE:

06:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
06:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE) 
07:00 PM: NBA: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (LIVE)
09:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 

WIZARDS at PACERS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (out, lumbar microdisectomy procedure)

Pacers: Victor Oladipo (out, sore right knee)

WIZARDS at PACERS SERIES HISTORY: 

Number of all-time Meetings: 174 games (6 playoff games)

Regular Season Record: Pacers lead series, 96-78

Playoff Record: Pacers lead series 4-2

Last Meeting: Wizards beat Pacers 109-102 on 3/17/2018

Last 10: Wizards 6-4

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John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

The problem with John Wall on Saturday night in the Wizards' blowout loss to the Cavs depended somewhat on whom was asked. Either that, or it was all of the above.

Head coach Scott Brooks indicated to reporters in Cleveland that Wall was sick. Bradley Beal referenced personal issues the team would prefer to keep in-house. Wall suggested he was hampered by a nagging left heel injury. 

Wall's explanation certainly passed the eye test. He clearly didn't have his trademark burst up and down the floor. Plus, he has been icing his left foot after recent games.

Add it all up and it was enough to produce the worst stat line of Wall's nine-year NBA career. Never before had he been held without a field goal and not once had he scored just one point in a game.

Wall runs the Wizards' offense, so naturally, his lethargic play set a sleepy tone. The Wizards dragged their feet, got shoved around by Tristan Thompson and went down by as many as 29. A reminder that this was against the Cavs, a 6-20 team with the worst defensive rating in the league.

Wall went on to tell the Washington Post that the pain in his heel is bad enough that he can't yet commit to playing on Monday in the Wizards' next game. 

When Wall is playing through injuries, he will often go out of his way to downplay them. His admission of the heel injury and how much it has hurt him is unusual and indicates the severity.

Wall has been dealing with several minor leg injuries this season. On top of the heel issue, he played through a thigh bruise earlier this year. But it had yet to be this bad and there may be a reason for that.

Wall returned for this game after being away for a few days to deal with a personal matter. Perhaps that time off made it tough for him to get loose or manage the injury like he usually does when under the watch of team doctors. 

That would make sense, given the last time he played, he played well. Wall had 18 points and 15 assists against the Knicks on Monday.

Many factors may have been at play. The result was a hobbled version of Wall, one who couldn't force enough separation to even get his shots off. Wall attempted only five field goals, the second-fewest of his career. Usually, even on his worst shooting nights, Wall can at least put up shots.

The pain and how it affected his game was clearly wearing on Wall. With just under two minutes to go in the first half, he drove into contact in the lane. After missing the layup, and not getting a foul call, he slapped the stanchion under the hoop before slowly turning to head back on defense.

When Wall is at peak powers, he plays with an unrelenting chip on his shoulder, flying to the rim like he's drawn by a magnetic force. He glides down the court, finishing with left-handed dunks and darts to open teammates on the perimeter. 

On Saturday, the swagger wasn't there. He hung his head, trotted timidly up and down the court and watched helplessly as rookie Collin Sexton and others drove past him.

Wall was far removed from his usual self against the Cavs. It would be hard to envision a scenario in which the Wizards could win with how he played.

At this point, it wouldn't be surprising if he missed Monday's game against the Pacers. The Wizards need him at or near 100 percent and he wasn't close enough against the Cavs.

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