Regular Season Game 72
Nuggets (39-33) at Wizards (40-31)
March 23, 2018 at 7:00 PM Capital One Arena | Washington, D.C.
TV: NBATV, NBCSW
Radio: 1500 AM
Odds: WSH -2.0
(Photo: David Zalubowski via The Associated Press)
What to Watch:
When the Wizards hosted the Atlanta Hawks for the first two games of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, Paul Millsap took exception to Washington’s physical style of play. “The difference in the game was we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA,” the All-Star power forward said after a Game 1 defeat. Markieff Morris then went on to call Millsap a “cry baby” for such a response and that he should expect “double MMA” in Game 2. In his first game back in DC since the series, Millsap will again likely draw the Morris matchup and some boos from the home crowd. After an injury riddled first season out West, Millsap is back to playing consistently and is averaging 14.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 28.9 minutes per game in 28 showings.
Nikola Jokic vs. Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi
Washington simply cannot afford to have another game where they get dominated in the paint by an All-Star caliber center. It happened on Wednesday with LaMarcus Aldridge and although Jokic is not as gifted of a scorer, he is just as deadly of an offensive force with his point guard-like vision and passing ability. Jokic is averging 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 31.6 minutes per game this season. He may reach those numbers and that is alright, but Washington has to ensure The Joker does not completely take over the game.
Gary Harris’ Health
It is unlikely that the former Michigan State sharpshooter will be able to play on Friday against Washington as he continues to miss time with a knee sprain and strain that he may not be able to return from until next week. Harris is the Nuggets leading scorer at 17.7 points per game and also plays the most minutes at 34.8 per game. It is likely that wing Will Barton will start in place of Harris and he also brings a stat-stuffing punch with 15 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.1 rebounds per game. Hopefully the Washington bench can take advantage of not seeing as much of Barton.
Phil Chenier’s No. 45 Raised To Rafters
A long overdue jersey retirement for Phil ‘The Legend’ Chenier will take place at halftime against Denver and I expect members of the Washington team to potentially skip heading to the locker room in order to take in that moment in history. Wizards players will be wearing special Phil Chenier shooting shirts, a special opening video paying tribute to the 1978 NBA Champion Bullets will be played, and Steve Buckhantz will host the halftime ceremony. Chenier, a three-time NBA All-Star, will become the fifth player to have his number retired by the organization, joining Wes Unseld (#41), Elvin Hayes (#11), Gus Johnson (#25), and Earl Monroe (#10).
Denver is a miserable 12-23 on the road this season and they will be without one of their best players. That spells trap game for Washington who I think may slip up and lose.