Washington Wizards Game Previews: October 31 - November 6

Washington Wizards game previews between October 31 and November 6, including games against: Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors.

Washington Wizards game previews between October 31 and November 6, including games against: Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors.

Toronto Raptors

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home

In their home opener, the Washington Wizards get a tough opponent in one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, the Toronto Raptors. The NBA’s sole Canadian franchise brought the core of last year’s team back in hopes of dethroning King James and his Cleveland Cavaliers this season.

Speaking of the reigning NBA Champions, the Raptors were able to put up a good effort against Cleveland on Friday, losing narrowly 91-94. The player who stood out was clearly DeMar DeRozan, who scored 32 points after recording 40 against Detroit in the previous game.

The key objective for the Wizards will be to limit DeRozan. A matchup of shooting guards also provides Bradley Beal with an opportunity to steal DeMar’s spotlight and to give the hometown crowd hope that the $128 million deal was indeed money well spent.

The center matchup should be interesting as well. In the memorable 2015 playoff series between these two teams, Marcin Gortat outplayed Jonas Valanciunas. A year and a half later, though, Gortat is slowly losing some of his explosiveness while Valanciunas continues to improve, averaging 14 rebounds per game so far this season.

The Wizards should keep Toronto from getting to the foul line, where they currently lead the league in efficiency (87.2%). On the other hand, the Raptors have been struggling from beyond the arc (20.6%), so the Wizards would be wise to make their opponents shoot from the distance.

Atlanta Hawks

Friday, 4 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home

A week after an embarrassing fourth quarter collapse in Atlanta, the Wizards get a chance for revenge, this time at home. After convincing wins against Washington and Philadelphia, the Hawks will have played Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers by the time they arrive at the Verizon Center – which means they might be 4-0 entering the Friday night matchup.

In the 99-114 loss on October 27, the Wizards have allowed their opponents to score from beyond the arc at will – the Hawks made 12 out of 26 attempts (46.2%). It will be interesting to see whether the Wizards coaching staff can make the necessary adjustments to keep this percentage significantly lower. Given that the Wizards' previous opponent struggles from the distance – and will likely be encouraged to shoot from there rather than drive to the basket – we could learn a lot about how well this team is able to change its defensive mindset from game to game.

Other than Markieff Morris, the entire team played rather unconvincingly in the loss. The bench, however, should find extra motivation to play with some urgency following their disappointing showing. Don’t be surprised to see more of Sheldon McClellan and less of Marcus Thornton.

Orlando Magic

Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away

Orlando could be a mess this year, and the 0-3 start does not necessarily inspire much optimism either. Following some head-scratching roster decisions during the off-season, the Magic have yet to figure out their front court logjam – and their team identity in general.

The Magic currently rank 29th in the league in field goal percentage (39.3%). Advanced stats paint a dire picture as well. League-wide, Orlando ranks 26th in Offensive Rating and 25th in Defensive Rating.

On the bright side, Evan Fournier has had a nice start, leading the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game. The Aaron-Gordon-as-small-forward experiment is still very young, but early signs look quite promising. The Magic also rebound well, as they currently average 46 per game – good enough for third in the NBA.

Nevertheless, this is the type of game that the Wizards have to win if they are serious about making the playoffs.

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