Opening Statements: Knicks at Wizards, Preseason Game 1 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Knicks at Wizards, Preseason Game 1

Updated: October 1, 2018


For the first time in 166 days the Washington Wizards will play an organized basketball game when on they take on the New York Knicks Monday night at the Capital One Arena. And while many of the main characters of this drama-comedy are the same, the Wizards made a few personnel changes that will hopefully take this team to the proverbial promised land–or at least the Conference Finals. Yes, that next level for a franchise that has not advanced beyond the Conference Semifinals in four decades is a low bar to exceed, but they have to start somewhere.

Washington traded franchise staple Marcin Gortat for backup combo guard Austin Rivers and Dwight Howard was signed as Gortat’s replacement. The Dwight experience in Washington won’t begin against the Knicks, since as he has already been ruled out by Scott Books with a back injury that has kept him out for all of training camp. It has almost become a rite of passage for Wizards free agent acquisition  to be hampered by an injury right before the season starts (see Ian Mahmini). With Dwight not being able to practice, he has not had the opportunity to work with John Wall and Bradley Beal and the pick and roll screening game that will certainly be a staple in the Wizards offense.

Team officials don’t seem to be worried about Dwight’s absence being a long-term issue as he has been around the team everyday and all indications point towards him sitting out as more precautionary than cause for concern. Replacing Dwight in the starting lineup will most likely be the aforementioned Ian Mahinmi who has looked trim this season while boasting an improved outside shot. Coach Brooks has established that the Wizards want to shoot more threes this season  and playing a young Knicks team will be the perfect case study to see how effective this offensive strategy can be.

The Knicks are a franchise in complete rebuilding mode but that does not mean this team is devoid of talent. Rookie swingman Kevin Knox turned heads in NBA Summer League and has a buzz surrounding him heading into the 2018-19 season. Knox will have to shoulder a lot of the offensive load with Knicks All-Star Kristaps Porzingis out due to an ACL injury. Besides Knox, the Knicks will boast a combination of young players and journeymen with the hopes of competing against a team with Eastern Conference Finals aspirations. One of those journeymen is former Wizard Trey Burke who had a pretty nice 19-point revenge game against his former team in a 101-97 win against the Wizards last season. Burke figures to see significant playing time going up against the Wizards new look bench back court of Tomas Satoransky and Austin Rivers.

New Year, New Digs

Off the court, the Wizards are starting their “new beginning” as a franchise with a brand new practice facility in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast DC. The team opened the doors to the new arena Friday night for an open practice that featured an inter-squad scrimmage and dunk contest.

Even Capital One Arena is newly renovated with upgraded amenities to increase the Wizards fans experience. The $40 million renovation to “The Vault” include all new, more comfortable padded seats with new cup holders.

“We’ve actually put a lot of money into the building over the years. (But this is) the first complete face-lift where the public-facing areas are going to be redone. All the changes we’re making are … to improve the experience of people attending the events.” – Dave Touhey, president of venues for Monumental Sports and Entertainment. 

 All of the signs in Capital One Arena will be digital and there will be a new state-of-the art sound system to give fans an enjoyable in-game experience.
There is no doubt that Ted Leonsis is putting his money where his mouth is in terms of investing in the Wizards players while simultaneously improving the fan experience. Hopefully the change in environment will lead to the end of the Wizards 40-year championship drought.


Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.