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Wizards season schedule breakdown: Part I

Editor's note: Before he went on vacation, Michael Lee broke down the 2010-11 Wizards' season, in six parts.

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER


We go head-to-head for the first time on Nov. 2. (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)


GAMES (Home, Road, Back-to-backs): 16 (8, 8, 3)

OVERALL: John Wall gets an intense welcome to the league as the Wizards open the season with nine playoff teams from last season. Cleveland is likely headed toward the lottery, but that still leaves eight, including a much-improved Heat squad. The best part about the early schedule is that after opening the season with the first two games on the road, the Wizards only have one-game road trips in November, with a relatively light schedule at home. Houston and Orlando are the only home opponents projected to make the postseason next season. Wall will also have to contend with point guards Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Jameer Nelson and Aaron Brooks.

GAMES TO WATCH:


Can you believe they wanted to trade Gilbert for me? (AP Photo)

Oct. 28, at Orlando: John Wall will make his NBA debut as the new-look Wizards help open the Orlando Magic's new arena, Amway Center on TNT. The game will have some intrigue since Orlando was one of the first places rumored to be a desired home for Gilbert Arenas in the wake of his season-ending suspension last January -- given his close ties to Magic general manager Otis Smith -- and the Wizards inquired about making a deal for Vince Carter last summer. The Magic had a relatively uneventful summer, aside from drafting Daniel Orton, signing Chris Duhon and losing Matt Barnes to the Los Angeles Lakers, but it remains one of the few threats to win the Eastern Conference. It is one of just two games on TNT for Washington in the upcoming season.

Nov. 2, Philadelphia: During the NBA combine in Chicago, Evan Turner said that no matter who went first that he and Wall would likely be linked for the rest of their careers. And, he's probably right, at least for the first few seasons. Will the Wizards look back and feel good about their choice, like Chicago is two years after taking Derrick Rose over Michael Beasley? Or will they feel like Portland, wondering how they passed on Kevin Durant to take Greg Oden? The first two picks of the 2010 NBA draft will go head-to-head for the first time in the Wizards home opener, but fans will also pay close attention to the new product, with a familiar face in Arenas. Former Wizards Coach Doug Collins is also back on the bench in Philadelphia, where his playing career began.


Hey, um. I'm willing to come back. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Nov. 6, Cleveland: Former Wizards captain Antawn Jamison makes his return to the Verizon Center, but in a much different position than he had hoped. Jamison's pursuit of a championship placed him in an awkward position of joining forces with a former nemesis. By now, people know how that turned out: Jamison and the Cleveland Cavaliers flamed out in the postseason and LeBron James stomped all over Cleveland when he decided to break up with the city during an ESPN egofest, er, telecast, and announced that he was taking his "talents to South Beach." Now Jamison, who has won just two playoff series in his first 12 seasons, is stuck with yet another lottery team; a woeful situation he thought he'd left behind.


Ready for me, Yi? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Nov. 10, Houston: After missing all of last season recovering from a severe foot injury, Yao Ming is back. The all-star center is completely healthy, which is good news for the Houston Rockets, but also should ensure a pretty nice crowd in Chinatown as he goes against his former teammate on the Chinese national team, Yi Jianlian. Yi has had to replace Yao as the face of Chinese basketball at the FIBA world championships this summer in Turkey. China's two NBA players usually play well against one another.

Nov. 12, Charlotte: The Wizards aren't the only franchise starting the season with a new owner in tow. Michael Jordan, whom Ted Leonsis helped bring to the Wizards organization back in 2000, became the first former NBA player to assume ownership of a franchise when he took over the Charlotte Bobcats in March. In some ways, it will feel like old times, with the Bobcats signing Kwame Brown and reminding Wizards fans of a truly forgettable era. Shaun Livingston will also return to Washington after his two month resurrection with the Wizards resulted in a three-year deal with the Bobcats.


Ready for that reunion, Kirk? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Nov. 13, at Chicago: Kirk Hinrich will already have a semi-reunion when the Wizards face the Chicago Bulls in the preseason (on my birthday, no less), but it will finally count this time. Hinrich said his trade from Chicago "blindsided" him last June. The Bulls were unable to lure LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade as they had hoped after dealing Hinrich, but they snagged Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer and should be one of the best teams in the East with the improved play of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. They also have a new coach in Tom Thibodeau, whose defensive schemes helped Boston make two trips to the NBA Finals in the past three seasons.

Nov. 17, at Boston: The Boston Celtics have slowly become the San Antonio Spurs, managing to get older and seemingly better each summer. The Celtics cornered the market on O'Neals, signing Shaquille and Jermaine to shore up the front line with Kendrick Perkins knee injury and Rasheed Wallace's retirement. They also re-signed both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Rajon Rondo may have been cut, um, withdrawn from Team USA, but it could work in favor of Boston, giving Rondo more motivation for the upcoming season. Rondo will also get to show his fellow Kentucky alum Wall but the NBA is about.


Can you imagine the reaction in Cleveland if I had signed with the Wizards. (AP Photo)

Nov. 29, at Miami: The Wizards have always had a hard time defeating Dwyane Wade by himself, but what are they going to do now that Wade is supported by his SuperFriends, Chris Bosh and the could-be King? The Heat is the marquee team of the East after Pat Riley worked his charms to pull off the greatest free agent coup in NBA history, landing a two-time league MVP and the league's best power forward under age 27. Although Wade has owned the Wizards over the years, fans in Washington have always had always spared their greatest venom for James, based largely on those intense playoff battles with Cleveland from 2006 to '08. The game could also be a bit more painful with the return of Mike Miller reminding the Wizards that they have nothing to show for the fifth pick in 2009.

By Michael Lee  |  August 31, 2010; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards 2010-11 schedule breakdown  
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Next: Wizards season schedule breakdown: Part II

Comments

Charlotte is like the ghost of christmas past for the wizards. They got michael Jordan, Kwame Brown, and Shaun livingston. If wizards win then power to Grunfeld if we lose the series then we can say they were a playoff team last year.

Posted by: jefferu | August 31, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't discount the possibility of the Cavs squeaking into one of the last two playoff spots. There are only 5 teams you could say are locks to make the playoffs in the East, if healthy (Chicago, Miami, Orland, Milwaukee, and Boston; Atlanta should make it, but between firing the coach, failing to upgrade the roster, and Jamal Crawford reverting to form as a locker room headache, I could see them doing a major backslide). The other slots are going to be hotly contested and up for grabs.

Posted by: kalo_rama | August 31, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

If the Cavs have a shot then surely postseason talk for the Wizards is realistic!

Posted by: divi3 | August 31, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The Cavs are still better than Charlotte.
Taking My Talents to South Beach as defined by Urbandictionary.com. NSFW

Posted by: djnnnou | August 31, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I expect Atlanta to hold it together and lock down the #6 slot. And imo, though Indiana will miss Murphy, the addition of Collison will bump them into the playoffs. But that last spot is decidedly up for grabs.

Posted by: ts35 | August 31, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"I expect Atlanta to hold it together and lock down the #6 slot."

I would expect that as well (which, technically, would still qualify as backsliding, just not major). But one of the knocks on the team (and, by extension, Joe Johnson) is that they've lacked strong leadership, a problem that's likely to be worsened by Woodson's ouster. I think the off-court issues with the team could end up derailing them more than their very evident shortcomings on the floor.

Posted by: kalo_rama | August 31, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I think the off-court issues with the team could end up derailing them more than their very evident shortcomings on the floor.

It wouldn't completely surprise me if they did, but I look at their talent-level and recent success and figure that even if they slide, they won't slide all of the way out of the playoffs. They could lose 10 fewer games this year and still get in in the East.

Posted by: ts35 | August 31, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

About Cleveland, it's possible they follow the pattern of other clubs that have lost superstars, and somehow manage to cobble together a competitive season. Expectations will be lower and Byron Scott will definitely have something to prove. They're already a good defensive club, which gives them a leg up.

If somebody like Mo Williams can carry a chunk of the scoring load, then they could definitely make the playoffs.

Posted by: Samson151 | August 31, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

On the Cleveland roster: I'm not sure why Samardo Samuels wasn't drafted. He's raw but IMO more talented than Tiny Gallon or Luke Harangody. He played well in the summer and seemed more skilled than first thought. Thick-bodied big men don't do well in the Pitino scheme and he probably would have been better served somewhere other than Louisville.

Posted by: Samson151 | August 31, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

imo Harangody will be a better nba player than 20-25 guys drafted ahead of him.

Posted by: divi3 | August 31, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I think Scott's experience and attitude will play a big role in how things go for the Cavs. Plus, the Cavs are mostly a veteran team, which could help them ride out some of the rough spots. I'm certainly not predicting they'll make the playoffs, because the odds are against them. But looking at the bottom of the East draw, I don't think they can be dismissed out of hand like Lee does in the above post.

Conversely, another reason why I'm leery of the Hawks is their choice of Woodson's top assistant, a guy with no head coaching experience (despite almost 2 decades in the coaching ranks), to replace him. Usually a team in the Hawks' position (rising playoff team that looks to have maxed out under the guy that coached them out of infancy) trades up on the next coach. In some quarters, Drew's hiring was perceived as being motivated by money (i.e., he came cheap). A guy with no lead experience, who's a disciple of the guy who just got sacked, and who may be seen as having gotten the job because he came at a discount wouldn't seem to be on the fast track to commanding locker room respect, esp. on a team that has a history of trouble giving it.

"They could lose 10 fewer games this year and still get in in the East."

I could see them losing more games than that, esp. if Crawford (A) gets traded and they don't get value back for him or (B) doesn't get traded and he becomes a locker room distraction that splits the team.

Posted by: kalo_rama | August 31, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"imo Harangody will be a better nba player than 20-25 guys drafted ahead of him."

I don't know about that, but I do think he landed in pretty much the perfect spot for a guy like him in Boston, a veteran-laden, playoff team. He may not play much this season (then again, given that Perkins is already out and neither O'Neal can be counted on for a full season, he may end up playing quite a bit) but going forward, he could be a key part of a young, talented frontcourt rotation with Perkins and Davis.

Posted by: kalo_rama | August 31, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Oops! Obviously I meant to say that Hawks could lose 10 more games or win 10 fewer. I really need to proof read more goodly.

I don't disagree with anything you're saying Kal, I just look at the talent they have and figure it will be hard for them to drop below .500 in the East. Anything, though, is certainly possible.

I have a feeling Cleveland will be tough early and fade late. They are a veteran team, and they will be motivated for sure. I just don't see enough talent. They should still be solid on D, but scoring could be a big problem, and if AJ or Mo Williams go down, they could suffer through a Wizard-esque losing streak.

If Wall and Turner are as advertised, Philly and The Wiz should be better this year. Who knows what will happen with the Pistons and the Raptors. Charlotte may have reached their level. I don't think NJ will be stuck at 12, but I don't expect them to jump into the upper 20s either. I expect the Pacers to be better. New York could play better but still not win more than 29-30.

Posted by: ts35 | August 31, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Spain just lost to Lithuania with Rubio being completely ineffective the entirety of the 4th quarter....not that that means anything for the previous discussion, I just cant help but point it out ;)

Posted by: divi3 | August 31, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Cant' wait for the season. I've got a ticket rep with the Wiz who is amazing. His name is Bryce and call him at 202-527-7508. I got a 13 game package with a different seat for every game and a few VIP games added in. Tell him Brandon sent you.

Posted by: BEZ420 | August 31, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"Oops! Obviously I meant to say that Hawks could lose 10 more games or win 10 fewer. I really need to proof read more goodly."

No big. I know what you meant.

I don't disagree with you about the Hawks' talent (although I do think they're front loaded without a lot of depth beyond Crawford off the bench). But I think the lesson of NBA history tells us that talent only takes a team so far, and I think they may have gotten as far as they can on talent alone. The next step requires experience, leadership, commitment, and cohesion. They've got (some) experience, but they've shown themselves to be lacking (sometimes sorely) in the other areas. I think they're teetering on the edge and it might only take only slight push to send them tumbling either way.

I'll add that I don't share your faith in the Pacers. I like Collison, but he hasn't done anything to suggest that he's a difference-making player yet. The Pacers are a haphazardly built team with a bunch of thrown together pieces. With the addition of Collison and a presumed continued improvement of Hibbert, they have some future bright spots at C and PG. Granger provides some scoring but, for the amount he's being paid you'd like him to provide some other stuff, at least a little. Beyond that . . . ? I think they're still several moves away from clearing out the dead wood enough to see the rest of the forest.

Posted by: kalo_rama | August 31, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I'll add that I don't share your faith in the Pacers.

No worries, i don't really expect anyone to. It just has seemed like they've been looking for a playmaker for a while, and to me he fits that bill. He put up some eye-popping numbers in the back-half of last season. We'll have to see if he can do the same for the Pacers.

I also liked the moves they made with Paul George and Stephenson (until the moment Lance got arrested for 'allegedly' being a dbag).

Posted by: ts35 | August 31, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

For the Yi fans here today, he led all scorers with 24 points on 53% shooting, 1 of 4 threes, 5 of 6 FTs, 7 boards, no blocks, an assist and 3 turnovers. Team lost to PR 84-76.

Posted by: Samson151 | August 31, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I guess the US plays Iran tomorrow, then Tunisia on Thursday.

Posted by: Samson151 | August 31, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

For the Yi fans here today, he led all scorers with 24 points on 53% shooting, 1 of 4 threes, 5 of 6 FTs, 7 boards, no blocks, an assist and 3 turnovers. Team lost to PR 84-76.

Posted by: Samson151

Was there a Yi / Peter John Ramos showdown that only Wizards' fans could truly appreciate?

Posted by: ts35 | August 31, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Collison is definitely the answer to one of the Pacers problems. But they've still got plenty left to solve. If nothing else, having an actual PG may help shine a bright light on how inherently lacking some of their other guys are, now that they won't have the excuse of not having a playmaker.

Posted by: kalo_rama | August 31, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Collison also appears to be (on a Blatchian sample) a legit scorer. I agree, a lot remains to be seen with the Pacers. I just view essentially the swap of Murphy for Collison a net plus, and enough to bump them into the playoffs.

Posted by: ts35 | August 31, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Collison . . . trading him was a ballsy move by new Hornets GM Dell Demps, in his attempt to demonstrate the franchise's willingness to build Chris Paul a winner. But I have a sneaking feeling that he's going to regret it in a couple of years when Collison is putting up nice numbers in Indy while Paul is quarterbacking some other team (the Knicks?) to the playoffs.

Posted by: kalo_rama | August 31, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I share that feeling. Or even if Paul goes down for any length of time this year.

Posted by: ts35 | August 31, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Why is everybody discounting Cleveland? They won 60+ games last season. Good team, should be a 1 or 2 seed if they can do it again.

Posted by: MarkAction | August 31, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

"Why is everybody discounting Cleveland? They won 60+ games last season. Good team, should be a 1 or 2 seed if they can do it again.Posted by: MarkAction"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand they lost a player...

Posted by: Samson151 | August 31, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Both Cleveland and Atlanta will do worse this year than expected and for different reasons.

Cleveland has a tremendous emotional catastrophy that could take years to recover from. What really sealed Lebron's decision to not consider returning will be the key to them playing very badly this season.

Atlanta on the other hand has made a huge blunder in releasing their head coach. It will become crystal clear how much Mike Woodson's coaching was pivotal in the success of that team.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | August 31, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Cleveland will lose as many games as possible in an effort to get Harrison Barnes next year to "replace" lebron at the 3. Only then would i consider them a playoff team.

Posted by: nfcBEaST | August 31, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

At this point, wizard,76ers, piston,ohio,indiana and babcats have equal chance to make it for playoff.For wiz to be there, they need Arenas to make a major revolution on himself,JH should be a leder and JW should not be distructed by Arenas of court issues.AB, the french man and yi should be as expected.They still need a mature ,defense oriented center for a minimum 25 minutes.hopefully not oberto.

Posted by: gtefferra | September 1, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Mo Williams has never averaged 18pts/night and it's hard to envision any team being great defensively if AJ is playing 35mins....I dont see any reason Wizards cant be better than the Cavs, in fact I fully expect it.

Posted by: divi3 | September 1, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

"Mo Williams has never averaged 18pts/night and it's hard to envision any team being great defensively if AJ is playing 35mins...."

Don't see that either of those things is really required to get a finger hold on the 8th seed in the East.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 1, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Surely interesting if the 8th and final spot will be between Cavs and Wiz. Experience wise...i believe Cavs will have the edge.

Posted by: Dave381 | September 1, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Cavs will be garbage this season. Most nights their frontcourt minutes will go to Hickson, Jamison and Side Show Bob.

Where's the shot blocking? Who protects the paint? Their interior defense will be tested over and over night in and out.

Considering the way their "D" feel apart against Boston last Spring why would anyone pick this team to be among the top 8 in the East?

Posted by: elfreako | September 1, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"Cavs will be garbage this season. Most nights their frontcourt minutes will go to Hickson, Jamison and Side Show Bob."

I think they match up well with McGee, Blatche and Thornton.

Posted by: Dave381 | September 1, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I don't. I'd be surprised if the Wizards didn't beat the Cavs by double digits 3 out of 4 times this season.

Posted by: elfreako | September 1, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse


I cannot wait to check out the super friends in Miami. They'll blow out the Wizards by 40 points each game but it will be fun to watch..lol. I think the Wizards will have a good season, folks who think there playoff contenders are dreaming...ONE STEP AT A TIME PEOPLE..lol But the Wizards should be decent if they can keep the keys players relatively healthy I think d8783da35bdef02

Posted by: rcnasa | September 2, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse


I cannot wait to check out the super friends in Miami. They'll blow out the Wizards by 40 points each game but it will be fun to watch..lol. I think the Wizards will have a good season, folks who think there playoff contenders are dreaming...ONE STEP AT A TIME PEOPLE..lol But the Wizards should be decent if they can keep the keys players relatively healthy I think perhaps 35-38 wins this season

Posted by: rcnasa | September 2, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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