The NBA regular season is right around the corner, tipping off next week. But first, the Wizards have their final preseason game tonight in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.
WHERE: Madison Square Garden (New York City, NY)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington
RADIO: 980 AM & The Wizards App
Here are three things to watch for in the final preseason game.
In addition to Corey Kispert’s ankle sprain that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks, three Wizards rotation players have been battling injuries and ailments. Kristaps Porzingis sprained his ankle in the previous preseason game in Charlotte. Bradley Beal was out for the last game due to a non-COVID illness. And Deni Avdija has yet to suit up in preseason action due to a groin injury he suffered in EuroBasket.
There’s good news, though. Beal is healthy and is 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,” said Unseld Jr. after Thursday’s practice. “He looked good in everything he did. I would assume he plays.”
As for Avdija, things are progressing in a positive direction.
“Deni was able to do five-on-five, which is good,” Unseld Jr. said. “Obviously, conditioning is a piece that we have to continue to monitor, but I’m just happy that he’s able to get out there and do the five-on-five live stuff at this point.”
BRADLEY BEAL’S COMFORT LEVEL
Beal has only played in one preseason game thus far after missing the last few months of the 2021-22 season due to a torn ligament in his left wrist. He scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field to go along with three assists, two rebounds, and two steals in 18 minutes of action.
In order for the Wizards to get where they want to be as a unit, they’ll need their leader firing on all cylinders. This preseason game is Beal’s last chance in an exhibition setting to get his feel for the game back. Then, it’s time for the matches that count in the record book. It will be interesting to see how comfortable Beal looks on the floor. It takes time to fully return to form after an injury, and game reps are a great way to see how the recovery process is going.
Johnny Davis, the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, has struggled to find an offensive rhythm through Summer League and his first few preseason games. In the Wizards’ third preseason game, there was a moment when things seemed to click for Davis. He had the ball in his hands and he navigated a pick-and-roll perfectly, putting the Hornets’ defender in jail, not rushing, and finishing the play with a beautiful floater off the glass. It was his first preseason bucket and it looked like it took a weight off his shoulders.
From that point on, he looked more comfortable. He looked like the Johnny Davis hoops fans saw when he was at Wisconsin. He finished the game with only four points on 2-of-4 shooting from the field, but it was his comfort level and athleticism that stood out — not his numbers in the box score. Look for Davis to continue building on that momentum in the final preseason game.