The Washington Wizards totaled 235 points in their opening pair of home games at the new Capital One Arena, getting off to a 2-0 start while their best player, John Wall, sliced and diced competition. The Wizards came up a game shy last season of reaching 50 wins for the first time since the disco days of the 1970s, and the team, so far, appears focused on making sure this season is a memorable one. The Wizards committed roughly $405 million in salary extensions to Wall, Otto Porter and Bradley Beal over the last two summers and this needs to be the season that the District receives a healthy return on their investments. Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, recaps the opening week that was for the Washington Wizards.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) shoots against Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick (17) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Washington. The Wizards won 120-115. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
October 18: Wizards Opens with 120-115 Win against 76ers
The Wizards opened their season with a 120-115 home win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18, schooling their younger counterparts in the process. Wall began what’s likely to be an MVP campaign with 28 points and eight assists and Beal added 25 points and six rebounds. Washington might have been the victor but it was hard to ignore the tantalizing potential of the traveling Sixers. Local prospect Markelle Fultz made his NBA debut along with last season’s top overall draft pick Ben Simmons, who missed all last season with a foot injury. Simmons looked like the next Penny Hardaway, Fultz scored 10 points in 18 minutes while oft-injured big man Joel Embiid recorded 18 points and 13 rebounds. Philadelphia has promise but it was Washington’s night despite the frequent chants of “Trust the Process,” a statement used frequently to describe the rebuilding project that the Sixers have endured for the last several seasons. The Wizards won but it’s hard not to recognize the emerging 76ers.
Detroit Pistons guard Ish Smith, left, reaches for the ball against Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
October 20: Wizards Ekes Out 115-111 Victory against Detroit
Washington blew their normal late lead against the Detroit Pistons in their following home game on Oct. 20 but their “Big Three” came up big in a 115-111 win. Porter was huge, recording 28 points, nine rebounds and four steals while Wall (26 points, 10 assists) and Beal (25 points) had all-star level games. Washington led by 15 points in the final quarter but allowed the Pistons to tie late in the game before the home team went on a 13-8 run to end the game. Seven Pistons scored in double-figures and the Wizards will need to get a handle on their defensive issues as they prepare for a four-game road trip.
Despite starting power forward Markieff Morris nursing a hernia injury, Washington has been explosive in their opening games. Wall has emerged as an MVP-level player and Beal and Porter are expected to challenge for all-star spots. The upcoming road trip will give fans an early preview of what to expect going forward but the early returns have been positive. If the “Big Three” can maintain their hot start then the Wizards should have some success on the road next week.