The Wizards have been bad this season. Not even “bad for a team with two All-Stars on their roster,” just plain ol’ bad. When they host the Lakers Sunday evening, they could look the worst they’ve looked all season.
As some of you may have heard, the Wizards acquired Trevor Ariza in a trade with the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. They also technically acquired him on Friday, but in the same way that the Lakers acquired Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets.
But because the trade call won’t be completed until Monday, the Wizards will be without Ariza, who upon arrival would be one of the best defenders on the team. Washington is ranked second-to-last in the league in defensive rating — allowing 112.7 points per 100 possessions — trailing only the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Wizards will also be without Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre Jr., who were sent to the Phoenix Suns in the reported deal. I hope [checks notes] ... Sam Dekker and Troy Brown have stayed ready.
That’s not to mention the absence of Dwight Howard, who will miss his 14th consecutive game for the Wizards after deciding to undergo back surgery in November. Lakers legend Thomas Bryant is expected to start in his place.
With no disrespect to Bryant, the second-greatest Bryant in Lakers history, he won’t stop Washington from getting killed on the boards like they have all season. The Wizards grab the second-fewest rebounds in the NBA (40.2). Comparatively, the Lakers are ranked No. 10 in the league in rebounds per game (46.2).
Still not convinced the Lakers have what it takes to pull out a win on the second night of a back-to-back? Try and think of one player on the Wizards than can guard LeBron James. Exactly.
It’s also worth noting that L.A. has performed surprisingly well on the second leg of back-to-backs this season:
The Lakers just landed in D.C.; LAL are 5-1 on the second night of back-to-backs this season, pretty strong on what are typically difficult games in the schedule. Washington, off on Saturday, is waiting for them for Sunday’s 6 p.m. Eastern tip.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 16, 2018
Does all of this mean the Lakers are guaranteed a win against the Wizards? No, but it’s hard to make a case as to why they’d lose on paper.
If the Lakers come out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, don’t be surprised if this one gets out of hand early on. Tip-off is at 3 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.