The Washington Wizards start their seven game preseason journey tonight at home. They’ll be taking on the very new looking Miami Heat, both Scott Brooks and Bradley Beal spoke to the media yesterday about tonight’s game. This will be the first time everyone gets to see the “new” Wizards against an opponent, to see how this defensive and offensive system works against someone other than themselves.
As the Wizards host the Miami Heat tonight, there will be several things to keep an eye on. It’s the preseason so things are going to be a little sloppy as far as play goes, especially when teams aren’t going to be playing their starters heavy minutes. That’s a gradual build to late preseason, still there are parts of these games that information can be gleaned from. That being said, here are a few things to watch for:
Depth behind Wall. The Wizards franchise player will not be suiting up for tonight’s game, Brooks said so yesterday. Trey Burke should get the start, as Coach shared. It’s an opportunity for him to show what he can do in this system, the same goes for Satoransky if he gets some time at point guard as well.
Small Ball. The Wizards did address the front court this offseason, but everyone added is a center except for Andrew Nicholson. Burke shared with us during training camp that Washington had already experimented with those lineups a bit. There’s a lot of versatility on this roster and playing against the Heat, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Spoelstra go small at some point with Washington matching it.
Defense. It’s been THE emphasis from the time Brooks was hired, all through training camp as well. This is the first chance to see how tough of a defensive group this is, again it’s just the first preseason game. Still, it’s where good habits are formed. They’ll be facing a team that’s known for playing tough defense as well, so it should be fun to see which unit defends better.
Offensive Philosophy. We’ve heard a little about it, but haven’t seen it yet as training camp sessions were closed to media. Brooks did say everything hasn’t been installed yet, but what has will be run in preseason. So we’ll get our first look at who the Wizards want to be on that end of the floor. One thing that can be expected is a diet of screen/roll.
Athleticism. This is the one thing that is known about this young team, they can get out and run. Danuel House eyes lit up when asked about transition opportunities with this group. If they’re able to force turnovers, fans will see why I believe this is easily the most athletic team Washington’s had in the past six years.
Competition. That open competition officially gets underway, both Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre are dripping confidence at this point. Neither of them wants to be given the starting small forward job, it’ll go to whoever earns it. Brooks said at Media Day that there are two open roster spots, tonight is the first step in two of those spots being earned.