Preview: Wizards travel to Cleveland seeking 3-0 start

After a pair of nice wins to start the season, the Wizards head to Cleveland for their toughest test yet, facing off with newly acquired guard Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers. Here’s everything you need to know.

WHERE: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (Cleveland, OH)
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington & NBATV
RADIO: 980 AM & The Wizards App

WIZARDS:
Vernon Carey Jr. (concussion protocol — questionable)
Corey Kispert (left ankle sprain — out)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

It’s a small sample size, but the Wizards’ defense has looked solid to start the season. Tonight will be their toughest matchup yet as they face a Cavaliers squad that hung 128 points on the Bulls on Saturday night in Chicago. The toughest matchup for Washington will be Cleveland’s All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell has looked incredible in his first two games with his new team, averaging 31.5 points per game on .550/.429/.867 shooting splits to go along with 8.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds.

The Wizards won’t have to stop Mitchell tonight. They just have to contain him. The easiest way to do that is to cut him off at the point of attack.

Mitchell is a guy that likes to use his speed, ball handling, and shiftiness to blow by defenders and get to the rim. No individual defender for the Wizards will be able to keep him out of the paint — he’s too good at the point of attack. It’ll take a team effort to keep Mitchell at bay.

If Deni Avdija gets the assignment right away, he’ll have to use his length and defensive instincts at the point of attack to contain Mitchell as well as he can. The Wizards’ help defenders will have to be ready to help, pinching at the nail to keep him out of the middle of the lane where he’s best.

If Washington can make it tough on Mitchell to get to the rim, the rest of the defense can fall into place.

This is one of the more interesting frontcourt matchups the NBA has to offer. For the Cavs, they have two young studs in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

Mobley is a versatile defender with incredible instincts on both ends of the court. Allen is a throwback-style big man that rebounds the ball and protects the rim.

The Wizards have a different type of dynamic duo up front. Kristaps Porzingis is a five-man that stretches defenses out well beyond the three-point line, and Kyle Kuzma plays like a wing in a big man’s body.

Watching how these two frontcourts attack and offset each other will be fascinating. The winner of this game could be whichever team wins the battle in the frontcourt.

RUI HACHIMURA GETTING IN HIS GROOVE

In the first game of the season, Rui Hachimura struggled offensively. He looked out of rhythm in the first half but started to get going a little in the second half. He finished the season-opener with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field and five rebounds.

The second game is where Hachimura started to look like the player Wizards fans know and love. He was aggressive in looking for his shot, he was strong around the rim, and he had his midrange game dialed in. He finished that game in double figures, notching 12 points and four rebounds.

If the Wizards’ offense is going to keep pace with the Cavaliers’ offense tonight, Hachimura will have to lead the charge on the second unit.

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