When fully healthy, the Wizards have prevailed over big opponents originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It’s an extremely small sample size, granted, but the Washington Wizards have been a tough matchup for teams when they’ve been able to field a fully healthy roster.
Wednesday’s double-digit win over the New York Knicks was just the second time over the course of the 2022-23 season which saw an empty injury report for the Wizards thanks to Bradley Beal’s return from a five-game absence. They dominated at Madison Square Garden with a wire-to-wire victory.
Washington’s ‘big three’ led the way once again. Kyle Kuzma paced the squad with 27 points and seven assists; Kristaps Porzingis, though he didn’t shoot particularly well, still finished with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds; in his first game in 15 days, Beal poured on 18 points with an efficient 64% clip from the field.
It hasn’t been lost on the team that, when fully healthy, they can provide a matchup nightmare for opponents.
“If I’m on the floor, there’s no way they can do that to KP. They can’t double-team him,” Beal said postgame. “Even when I’m on the floor with the other two [Kuzma and Porzingis], they can’t double-team me either because those two are so good at cutting, finding space, knocking down shots.”
Washington’s win over New York was reminiscent of the only other time they posted a full roster this season: a 116-111 win over Philadelphia in December which snapped the 76ers’ eight-game winning streak. In both contests, the Wizards put up exactly 116 points, the big three all posted double figures behind a Porzingis double-double, the team shot around 45% from the field, and the Wizards vastly outperformed their opponents from 3-point range.
Philadelphia (.636 winning percentage) and New York (.543) were both tough matchups for the Wizards, as the two teams are firmly in the playoff push. Still, Washington took both teams stride-for-stride.
Better still is the fact that Washington’s role players also contributed efficiently in both wins, pointing to strength in depth. In New York, Monte Morris (13 points, 7 rebounds, +17) and Deni Avdija (14 points and 7 rebounds off the bench) proved to be the catalysts for the big three’s triumph.
“Teams, they have to be honest with us and play us one-on-one, which is difficult for them to do,” Beal said. “We’ll just continue to excel. Kuz has been having a [expletive] of a year, same with KP – they’ve been playing awesome basketball.”
Washington’s health could be a key factor in them overcoming their current sub-.500 record of 19-26. No players left the New York game early with an injury, which could be a good sign as they gear up for their upcoming slate: a home game against Orlando before a five-game road stand.
“I’m just happy that I’m back healthy,” Beal said. “Hopefully we stay healthy, stay this way, and continue to push out the rest of the year.”