The NBA regular season is fast approaching and will begin next week. But first, the Wizards have their final preseason game tonight at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.
WHERE: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington
RADIO: 9:80 a.m. and the Wizards app
Here are three things to watch for in the final game of the pre-season.
In addition to Corey Kispert’s ankle sprain that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks, three players in the Wizards rotation have battled injuries and ailments. Kristaps Porzingis sprained his ankle in the previous preseason game in Charlotte. Bradley Beal was out for the final game due to a non-COVID illness. And Deni Avdija has yet to take part in the pre-season due to a groin injury he suffered during EuroBasket.
There is good news, however. Beal is healthy and expected to play tonight and Porzingis has a good chance to play, according to Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr.
“[Porzingis] was a partial participant today,” Unseld Jr. said after practice Thursday. “He looked good in everything he did. I guess he’s playing.”
As for Avdija, things are moving in the right direction.
“Deni was able to do five-on-five which is good,” Unseld Jr said. to do the live five-on-five stuff at this point.”
BRADLEY BEAL’S LEVEL OF COMFORT
Beal has only played one pre-season game so far after missing the final months of the 2021-22 season with a torn ligament in his left wrist. He scored nine points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field to go along with three assists, two rebounds and two steals in 18 minutes of action.
In order for Wizards to get to where they want to be as a unit, they will need their leader firing at full throttle. This pre-season game is Beal’s last chance in an exhibition setting to regain his sense of the game. Then it’s time for the games that count in the record books. It will be interesting to see how comfortable Beal is on the floor. It takes time to fully recover from injury, and set reps are a great way to see how the recovery process is going.
Johnny Davis, the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, struggled to find an offensive rhythm through the Summer League and his first preseason games. In the Wizards’ third preseason game, there was a moment when things seemed to click into place for Davis. He had the ball in his hands and he navigated a pick-and-roll perfectly, putting the Hornets defender in jail, without rushing, and ending the game with a nice floater on the glass. It was his first bucket of pre-season and it seemed like it took a weight off his shoulders.
From then on, he seemed more at ease. He looked like Johnny Davis hoop fans when he was in Wisconsin. He finished the game with just four points on 2-for-4 shooting from the field, but it was his comfort level and his athleticism that stood out – not his box scoring numbers. Expect Davis to continue to build on that momentum in the final game of the preseason.