Fresh off their first win since the All-Star break, the Washington Wizards roll into New York to face the Brooklyn Nets in an enticing 2020-21 NBA game on Sunday. After making a positive run prior to the midseason hiatus, the Washington Wizards went five games without a win before impressing against the league's best, the Utah Jazz, on Wednesday.
Russell Westbrook produced a monster triple-double, his 13th of the season, and will lead the Washington Wizards' offense against former teammate James Harden and the supposedly 'weak' Brooklyn Nets defense.
The Brooklyn Nets have allowed a whopping 116.5 points per 100 possessions this campaign. Steve Nash's saving grace has been the fact that he has the choice of three of the greatest scorers the league has ever seen (Kevin Durant misses this game because of injury) and the recently-acquired Blake Griffin from the Detroit Pistons.
When these two teams last met in January, four players scored at least 30 points as the Washington Wizards won 149-145.
Washington Wizards vs Brooklyn Nets Injury Update
Davis Bertans limped out of Wednesday night's game with the Utah Jazz and subsequently had an MRI that revealed a right calf strain, which sidelines him for a minimum of two weeks. Aside from their two long-term absentees, Ish Smith and Thomas Bryant, the Washington Wizards have no new injury concerns.
Steve Nash has a positive update on the impending debut of Blake Griffin, saying that the power forward's return date is getting closer. Griffin, who was signed by the Brooklyn Nets, adds further bolsters the team's incredible offense.
The devastating trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving hasn't played much together but have struck up a devastating partnership.
Durant remains absent for the Brooklyn Nets. The franchise has taken a cautionary approach regarding the superstar's return, as they are not struggling in his absence.
Washington Wizards vs Brooklyn Nets Predicted Lineups
In what is expected to be a battle of the backcourt pairings, the Washington Wizards will be looking at Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal to replicate their 78-point outing on Wednesday.
Without the duo, the Washington Wizards wouldn't have had an outside chance of making the playoffs; they still have work to do in this regard, but they are not out of postseason contention just yet.
At center, backup big man Robin Lopez has been sought in the trade market, while Alex Len has been taking up the duties. With the Washington Wizards needing a third consistent scorer, they may use the last few days of the trade market to bring in a more effective big to take Len's place and protect the rim.
Meanwhile, young forwards Rui Hachimura and Garrison Mathews make up the Washington Wizards' frontcourt, with the former averaging 16.6 points per game since the All-Star break.
With no new injuries worries, the Brooklyn Nets are expected to field an unchanged starting five.
Kyrie Irving and James Harden have continued their electric form since the All-Star break, putting up three 40+ performances between them in this period.
Meanwhile, Bruce Brown Jr. has seen the floor more often than veteran Jeff Green this season. However, Nash has started them both twice in the last four matchups.
When Griffin comes in, he could come off the Brooklyn Nets bench, So competition for a starting berth will become more intense.
Washington Wizards vs Brooklyn Nets Predicted Starting 5s
G Bradley Beal, G Russell Westbrook, F Garrison Mathews, F Rui Hachimura, C Alex Len.
G Kyrie Irving, G James Harden, F Joe Harris, F Jeff Green, C DeAndre Jordan.