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Wizards season schedule breakdown: Part IV

FEBRUARY


Who knew it would take more than a year for us to return to Verizon Center (maybe)? (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)


GAMES (Home, Road, Back-to-backs): 12 (7,5,3*)

OVERALL: The all-star break reduces the number of games, and after opening the month in New Orleans, the Wizards won't leave the Eastern time zone for the other 11 games. The Wizards will play seven in the comforts of Verizon Center but they will face only one team at home that didn't make the playoffs last season -- Indiana. They will get a heavy dose of Southeast Division foes, with games against Orlando, Atlanta and Miami. And, barring any trade deadline deals for Dallas, three former Wizards will likely make their return to Verizon Center near the end of the month.

GAMES TO WATCH


I'm going to try to jump with you this year, Dwight. (AP Photo)

Feb. 4, Orlando: JaVale McGee had an encouraging summer as he tore up summer league and earned an invitation to Team USA tryouts for the world championships. But he will get another test in his development against the league's best center, Dwight Howard. McGee and Howard are arguably the two most athletic 7-footers in the NBA -- who wouldn't want to see those two go head-to-head in a slam dunk contest? But McGee has always struggled staying on the floor against Howard, who repeatedly puts him in foul trouble. Depending on how the Orlando Magic is playing, it will be interesting to see if general manager Otis Smith begins to consider some tweaks to his roster; namely, if he starts to ponder acquiring Gilbert Arenas if the team isn't playing great.

Feb. 5, Atlanta: Raise your hand if you knew heading into the biggest free agent bonanza since 1996 that the grand prize winner (i.e., the guy who came away with a six-year, $124 million contract) would be Joe Johnson. Something seems backwards in this equation, especially given his disappearing act in the second round of the playoffs. But the Hawks decided to keep most of their roster intact while making the most dramatic change at head coach, promoting assistant Larry Drew and letting Mike Woodson walk. The Hawks were a top four team last season, but will have difficulty repeating the success after failing to address their deficiencies inside in free agency.


John, if you need proof that a rookie one year removed from high school can lead a team to the playoffs, check me out. (Getty Images)

Feb. 9, Milwaukee: John Wall earned his reputation while playing against Brandon Jennings during a Reebok-sponsored AAU basketball tournament three years ago, but recently the duo was connecting for an alley-oop dunk that became an Internet sensation. Jennings set a blueprint for Wall as a rookie one-year removed from high school having an immediate influence and proving excitement for a moribund franchise. Wall will finally welcome Jennings to his home for what should be an exciting matchup of young point guards. The Bucks had a busy offseason, re-signing John Salmons, signing Drew Gooden and acquiring Corey Maggette in a trade with Golden State. But they will only go as far as Andrew Bogut takes them. Bogut put up all-star caliber numbers before suffering a gruesome elbow injury late last season, but should be back in time for this one.

Feb. 12, San Antonio: The San Antonio Spurs aren't the same old Spurs anymore. Yes, they still have some old players, but they are much younger -- and aren't the same team that could always be considered a title contender. Tim Duncan is beginning to show his age, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker can't stay healthy, and Richard Jefferson and the youthful role players surrounding them seem to be confused about their roles. George Hill came on strong last season, but they will likely rely on Brazilian center Tiago Splitter, a 25-year-old former Spanish League MVP who could emerge as a darkhorse rookie-of-the-year candidate depending on the role he is asked to fill. Wall should also get an education trying to guard Parker.


I'd like to come back and do this in D.C. once again -- as a Maverick. (Getty Images)

Feb. 26, Dallas: With Mark Cuban never shy about making trades to upgrade his roster in search of that elusive championship, you have to wonder if the expiring contracts of Caron Butler or DeShawn Stevenson are used at the trade deadline and prevent them from returning to Verizon Center as members of the Mavericks. Then again, Butler might play some of his best basketball as he enters free agency. Butler remains connected to the D.C. area, with many of his family and friends sticking around even after the trade. Brendan Haywood will return to Washington as the opponent for the first time in his 10th season and it surely will feel odd for him to spend time in the visitor's locker room.

Feb. 28, Chicago: Will President Obama stop by? This is around the same time two years ago that Obama attended his only Wizards game since taking office. Of course, he was there to see his beloved Chicago Bulls, but that didn't stop the Wizards from putting on a show, with Antawn Jamison dunking and JaVale McGee saluting. Josh Howard will likely feel a little uncomfortable facing the Bulls in February, since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament while playing against them last Feb. 22

By Michael Lee  |  September 7, 2010; 10:10 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards 2010-11 schedule breakdown  
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Comments

I chose the Milwauke game. In each of these schedule breakdowns, I'm most anticipating match-ups with teams I believe are more neck and neck with the Wizards.

By this point in the season I would be glad if we they have shocked most and are near the top of the rankings, but otherwise I want to see their progress and if they are challenging for that 8th,7th seed,etc...

Posted by: millineumman | September 7, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to the first game after the trade deadline. February will be ugly with chemistry issues. Thornton, Howard, and Young are playing for new deals and getting most of their minutes at SF, Arenas will find a way to be a distraction, and Blatche will be feeling underpaid, again. And Flip doesn't handle locker room problems well. Ernie should be very busy.

Posted by: djnnnou | September 7, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

you know someone asked him if he was underpaid right? 'scuse me someone was doing a feature for SI, I think, about the NBAs Best Underpaid players, and since AB was tearing it up at the time he was included in the feature. The fact of the matter is that if he can come close to performing like he did down the stretch last year, you'd be a fool not to call him underpaid. I love how perception takes precedant over facts. AB is this and that so of course by midseason he'll feel underpaid again. Who knows by mid season he may be stinkin it up and be thought of to be lucky he's getting what he gets. As it stands, he's a bargain and everyone knows it.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | September 7, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"you know someone asked him if he was underpaid right?"

Just because someone asked him a stupid question doesn't obligate him to give a stupid answer.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 7, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

you know someone asked him if he was underpaid right? (followed by a bizarre rant)

16 games after the All-Star Break, so yeah I think it will be an issue by February.

Posted by: djnnnou | September 7, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Michael Lee, you are a talented writer, and I enjoy your columns on the Wizards. However, I wish you would consider letting the "scene of the crime" issue go. Arenas has served his suspension, time in a half-way house, has met with and has the confidence of his owner and support of his coach and GM. Why continue baggering this "dead issue?" Let's move on to something positive about Arenas. There is plenty to write about his exploits in Washington, especially for school kids. It is my gut feeling that this continuance is just a ploy to keep your collegues happy (if you catch my drift). There is no reason for a seasoned writer with your skills to stoop to that level. I can say this because I understand the dymanics of human behavior. I hope it will not insult you to accentuate the positive about the Wizards, and let allow this "dead issue" to cease.

Posted by: esmith4 | September 7, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

AB is on one of the best contracts in the league (possibly THE best non-rookie deal), which by definition means he his underpaid. Nice work EG!

And when you add the uncertainty of the new CBA to the fact that Blatche would have to wait 2 more years anyway to potentially get a big FA deal....he may end up resigning here sooner for possibly less $$$ than would be available later (assuming performance stays the same).

Posted by: divi3 | September 8, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

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