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Seeking their first 4-0 start since they were the Bullets and Elvin Hayes was their leading scorer (1978-79), the Washington Wizards take on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Wednesday night.
Tip is scheduled for about 10:40 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN. Those with a cable subscription can watch the game online via WatchESPN, but if you’ve cut the cable cord, you can still watch a legal live stream for free via one of the following services:
DirecTV Now: All four channel packages include ESPN. The cheapest package costs $35 per month, but it comes with a free 7-day trial.
Sling TV: The “Sling Orange” channel package includes TNT. It costs $20 per month, but it comes with a free 7-day trial.
While the Cavaliers are expected to pace the East this season, it feels like a wide-open race for the No. 2 seed. The Celtics were the preseason favorite for that spot but that changed quickly once Gordon Hayward went down. The Raptors have the star power, and now that they’re getting bigger contributions from young guys like Norman Powell, Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl, they look like they could be dangerous. Milwaukee has Giannis–enough said.
And then, right in the thick of that conversation are the Washington Wizards, who are off to a 3-0 start but have had every game decided by five points or less. They’re fourth in the NBA in offensive rating, but just 15th on the defensive side of the ball. They’re good, but are they ready to improve on last year’s 49 wins?
Kelly Oubre may go a long way in answering that. While the Wizards more or less know what they’re getting out of guys like John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat, a big step forward from the third year forward would go a long way.
Well, so far, so good. Receiving 35.3 minutes per contest, Oubre boasts early averages of 10.7 points, 1.7 threes, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. As a result, the Wizards’ starting five (Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter Gortat), which is the most-played lineup so far in the NBA, boasts a beautiful net rating of 20.4. In short, if Oubre is playing well, that quintet can take this team a long way.
On the other side of this matchup, the Lakers are 1-2 and clearly in rebuilding mode, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to watch. They lead the NBA in pace, and their three games thus far have averaged a total of 231 points.
And if nothing else, the Lakers are always worth watching to see which new point guard goes after Lonzo Ball in large part because his dad won’t stop talking. Tonight, Ball gets what will be one of his most difficult matchups of the year in Wall.
“Certain matchups you really get up for. Like when you play [Golden State Warriors guard] Steph [Curry], you definitely want to have a good game,” said Wall. “I’m playing against [Ball]. [Gortat] said what he said about me. I didn’t say anything. His dad has been talking. … That makes me want to go out there and lead my team and play the best I can play.”
The Wizards are 6-point favorites in this one.