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PREGAME: Wizards at Magic

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Regular Season Game 1

Washington (0-0) at Orlando (0-0)

October 28, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Amway Center, Orlando, FL
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

February 9, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC – Wizards 96, Magic 80
Game Notebook 52


What to Watch:

John Wall! Bradley Beal! Otto Porter Jr! Gortat! Nene! Kelly Oubre! Mario Hezonja! Wait, what?

More on that last name momentarily, but first, Wizards Basketball is back! The pre-season has shown us that John wall is already diving on the floor, Hump is jacking up 3s, Drew is stroking those same 3s, Otto is full of confidence, and Bradley Beal intends to become All-Star Bradley Beal.

Throw all of that out the window. The real games start now, and we will learn quickly what is real, and what is fake. Will the Wizards really up the tempo? Will Kris Humphries really have the confidence to shoot behind the line when the W’s and L’s matter? Will Drew Gooden shoot without inhibition when the games? (Yes). Will Wittman actually tolerate Drew Gooden shooting without inhibition when the games matter? (We”l see). Can Oubre contribute in any meaningful way, or will he become Year One Otto Porter?

Speaking of Otto Porter, what we”ll be watching early in the season really comes down to two people: Otto, and Bradly Beal. We know what Wall will give us, at the minimum. And we have an idea what the other guys COULD give us, at a maximum. But the success of this team and the ceiling of this team really comes down to Otto and Beal. Can Otto turn into a bonafide 3-and-D wing capable of affecting the game on both ends, night in and night out? And can Bradley Beal turn his arousing off-season workouts into astounding in-season performance? Is he ready to be the “Real Deal”?


Key matchup:

Wall and Beal vs. Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo

Here’s a few words to describe new Orlando Head Coach Scott Skiles: Scrappy. Intense. Hard-working. Non-stop. Competitive. And intense again.

Look for these traits to translate to Orlando, especially early in the season. A new coach and a young team will generally struggle early in the season to execute, and play with rhythm and chemistry. The basketball might not be pretty, but look for the intensity to be fierce from Orlando coming out of the gate. And this intensity will be clear in the Orlando backcourt, where you can expect Oladipo and Payton to be hounding Wall and Beal relentlessly on the defensive end. The two are already two of the peskiest, most irritating defensive guards in the league, and they will be that much more irritating in game one, trying to set a tone for the remainder of the season. Wall and Beal will have to be in mid-season form with their handles and decision making, or the Wizards will risk experiencing a disappointing opening season L.


X-factor:

Rust. Part of what makes Oladipo and Payton dangerous in this game, as we just discussed, is the potential rust-factor of the Wizards. Every team will be at least a little bit off to start the season, and the gap between good teams and bad teams will far smaller now than later in the year. It’s what allows bad teams to get off to good starts like the Sacramento Kings did last season. The Wizards are no different. But winning rusty is important, just like winning injured. The Wizards will have to take care of the ball against a young, athletic Orlando team. They will have to play solid defense, and not let missed shots affect their defensive mentality. Additionally, they have to expect that their new tempo and floor spacing will take some time to start flowing. Hump will miss 3s. Bradley will commit charges. All of it will be part of the process. There will be rust. Stay the course.


Fun factor:

Mario Hezonja (He-zone-yah).

The Orlando Magic desperately needed shooting, so they drafted a Croatian widely considered the best shooter in the NBA Draft. Here’s a clip of his shooting from Summer league:

Oops, my fault. That was the wrong Summer league clip. Try this one:

Dammit! Wrong again. Here:

F! That’s just a video of him hitting a 3, running up the score, and dapping the opposing coach. Ok, last try!

THERE WE GO. That’s Hezonja hitting a game winner in his first summer league game. And here’s one more Hezonja highlight cuz I can’t resist. You know, nothing special, just throwing a bounce pass alley-oop in preseason (NOTE: Watch #24 get off the Heat bench. Good times!):

Scott Skiles is going to hate him. The rest of the world is going to LOVE him.


Prediction:

Sloppy play all-around. Wizards win. Wall with 15+ assists. Beal with 20+ points. “We want Mario” chants from everyone!

we are Hoop District

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