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5 Games To Watch, 2 Road-Heavy Months

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Any assessment of the Washington Wizards’ 2019-20 schedule should come with the following caveat: This, most likely, won’t be a good team.

They don’t have a deep roster, and nobody beyond Bradley Beal qualifies as a must-see player.

Given the current state of the franchise, the Wizards are not a marquee opponent on anybody’s schedule, and they don’t have any sort of evenly matched rival to speak of.

All of these points make it challenging to identify Washington’s must-watch games in the traditional sense. That said, they still have plenty of games that will be telling over the course of the year.

Realistically, Washington doesn’t stack up well against some of the more talented teams in the league—the Clippers, Nuggets, Lakers, Bucks or 76ers, to name a few—so they are excluded from this discussion. Instead, listed below are five of the Wizards’ most interesting matchups of the year, along with a fuller review of the team’s 82-game schedule:

The Isaiah Thomas Revenge Game

Nov. 13 at Boston: Thomas says he’s fully healthy now after injuries robbed him of the last two seasons. There’s no better way to reintroduce himself to the league than by burning the team that traded him after he averaged nearly 29 points and led them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017.

The “Oh, What Could Have Been” Game

Dec. 18 vs. Chicago: Washington welcomes back some old friends in Otto Porter Jr.—whom they traded to Chicago in February—and Tomáš Satoranský—who signed with the Bulls in July. The irony of this meeting is that Porter and the remaining $55 million on his deal were traded for two expiring contracts in Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, thereby theoretically opening up money to spend in free agency; the Wizards then failed to retain not only Parker and Portis, but Satoranský as well.

The Locals Only Game

Jan. 10 vs. Atlanta: Wizards fans can use this game as a means to check out a handful of players from nearby University of Maryland (Bruno Fernando, Kevin Huerter and Alex Len) and University of Virginia (De’Andre Hunter). As an added bonus, this will be the first visit to Washington for Cam Reddish, Atlanta’s No. 9 pick in June’s draft— just one spot after Washington selected Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga. The Reddish storyline is worth mentioning just in case he outperforms Hachimura to start the year, making the Wizards regret their pick—which is entirely likely. As an extra added bonus, this is one of the last times Vince Carter will visit D.C. as his career nears its end after 22 years. He and the Hawks will be back on March 6.

The Measuring Stick Game

March 8 vs. Miami: This is the fourth and final meeting of the year with Jimmy Butler and the Heat, who have the best odds to win the Southeast Division in 2019-20. How the Wizards stack up against the projected division winner will play a large role in determining how the campaign shakes out.  

The Rookie of the Year Game

April 1 vs. New Orleans: Zion Williamson could easily have the Rookie of the Year award wrapped up before April, but he’ll have this contest and an April 13 date in New Orleans to pad his stats against the Wizards, who don’t have many options to slow him down. If nothing else, Williamson coming to D.C. is sure to be one of the hottest tickets of Washington’s season.  

Start Me Up

Washington opens the season with three games on the road—at the Mavericks, Thunder and Spurs—for the first time since the 1983-84 Bullets did so against the 76ers, Knicks and Hawks.

What to watch for in the first three games:

  • The Wizards haven’t won in San Antonio since Dec. 11, 1999, a streak of 19 straight losses there
  • Washington hasn’t won in Dallas since Dec. 12, 2015, a streak of three straight losses
  • Washington only got its first win in Oklahoma City last season, stopping a streak of nine consecutive losses there since the franchise moved from Seattle

December and March are Road-Heavy

The Wizards have eight road games in both December and March. March’s eight-pack is offset by an equal number of home games, but December is more lopsided with six in D.C.

The bulk of December’s road contests come right in a row, which could make the two-game discrepancy between the months feel a little more pronounced.

In the first week of December, Washington has four games—two on the road at the Clippers and Heat sandwiched around home games against Orlando and Philadelphia. The Wizards then play the Clippers at home on Dec. 8 before starting an eight-game stretch that features seven road contests: at the Hornets, Grizzlies, Pistons, Raptors, 76ers, Knicks and Pistons again.

March’s slate may be tougher even if the travel doesn’t come all in a row. At home, Washington gets Atlanta, Miami, New York, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Boston, Phoenix and the Lakers. On the road, they get Golden State, Sacramento, Portland, Boston, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Atlanta again, and Milwaukee again.

Road Trips Max Out at 4

In addition to the final four games of that brutal December stretch discussed above, the Wizards have three other four-game road trips on the docket. No road trip during the season will last longer than these four-game sets:

  • Nov. 26­–Dec. 1: Denver, Phoenix, Lakers, Clippers
  • Dec. 21–26: Raptors, 76ers, Knicks, Pistons
  • Jan. 22–28: Heat, Cavaliers, Hawks, Bucks
  • Feb. 28–March 4: Jazz, Warriors, Kings, Trail Blazers

The first four-game road trip, for some reason, doesn’t feature the LA teams in a back-to-back and instead features the Nuggets and Suns on consecutive days. And during the third set, the Wizards will have the unfortunate travel schedule of flying south to Miami, only to fly north to Cleveland, then south again to Atlanta, then north again to Milwaukee before finally heading home.

February: Home Sweet Home

For as difficult as December figures to be, February will be Washington’s reward—eight of the team’s 11 games are at Capital One Arena.

Half of those eight games figure to be against teams that could be among the league’s best—Brooklyn twice, along with Golden State and Milwaukee. But with so little travel that month, the Wizards should at least be well-rested for the matchups.

And the games on the road? Easy flights to New York and Chicago 12 days apart before closing the month in Utah.

Back-to-back woes

The Wizards have 13 sets of back-to-backs this year, one fewer than last season.

Games on consecutive days were a bit of a concern for Washington in 2018-19, but not in the way one might expect.

It sounds more reasonable that teams would be more likely to lose the second night of a back-to-back because they are tired from having played the previous evening. That feeling of exhaustion can be compounded if a team has to travel for the second game.

The Wizards, however, went 2-12 in the first game of a back-to-back and 9-5 in the second game. They further bucked convention by going 4-3 on the road in the second game of a back-to-back.

Overall, Washington split nine of its 14 back-to-backs last year while sweeping both games just once.

On the 2019-20 schedule, three back-to-backs look particularly daunting:

  • Jan. 3-4—vs. Portland and vs. Denver: There’s no travel involved with this one, but facing one of last year’s Western Conference finalists and a near Western Conference finalist on consecutive nights is challenging no matter where you play.
  • March 20-21—at Atlanta and vs. Milwaukee: After wrapping up a three-game road trip at the Hawks, Washington is welcomed home by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
  • March 27-28—at Milwaukee and vs. Lakers: A week later, after facing the Bucks on the road, the Wizards see LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the retooled Lakers at home. Remember how we learned March was hard?

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1994: The Year of the Game Changer | 25YL

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25 Years Ago, in the world of video gaming it was, to put it mildly, a “fantastically exciting time” to be playing video games and to think to yourself “What is coming next?” “What will the next Mario game look like on a new next-generation console?”.

The year would have been 1994 at the time of writing this piece and we had been enjoying (and in some cases not) some of the most amazing games of all time during what I call the “16-Bit Era” of games. At least, in my opinion, that is. SEGA’s Mega Drive (Genesis for any American readers) had been a big success for its creators and went toe to toe with Nintendo’s Super Nintendo (Super Famicom if you happened to be in Japan).

Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive consoles from 1994

We had been treated to some astonishing games up until this point with the likes of Super Mario World, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 a few iterations of Street Fighter 2 (Turbo and Special Championship Edition’s, etc). We had Super Metroid, Super Soccer (ok maybe not that one!) and we had just got a glimpse of the future with games such as Star Wing (Star Fox for readers outside of Europe) and Virtua Racing. These showed the way with Polygons making the graphics we saw on screen whilst playing these games and things looked 3D…remember when 3D gaming was all the rage? I certainly do!

In the Arcades, we were starting to see games that would hit home consoles in the coming years. Big titles such as Ridge Racer which made Virtua Racing look very primitive and Tekken which made you think “If only Street Fighter 2 was like this!”. Then… we began to hear about some exciting “Super Consoles” that would appear on store shelves in Japan at the end of 1994. Those would be the Saturn from SEGA and a newcomer was about to enter the world of video gaming… Sony. The PlayStation would be in the hands of Japanese gamers by December of 94.

screen shot of Ryu vs Blanka in Street Fighter 2 on the SNES

Little did we know at the time the PlayStation would turn out to be a major big hit for Sony! Now some of the amazing looking experiences you had in the Arcades when you played the likes of Ridge Racer and Virtua Fighter were coming home on these new “Super Consoles”. In future articles, I will go into more depth about both the SEGA Saturn and Sony’s PlayStation. It would be a couple more years until Nintendo would release its challenger to what I call the “32-Bit CD-ROM Era”… the N64! The N64 wouldn’t follow what SEGA and Sony did and be a 32-Bit CD-ROM console, however, Nintendo stuck with Cartridges which at the time seemed a very odd thing to do especially given how much larger the games could be on a CD-ROM rather than a traditional ROM Cartridge. This, in my opinion, was a pretty bad move by Nintendo as it hampered Developers when it came to content. Often they would have to cut content out of the N64 version. 1 Such example that I knew back in the day was FIFA 98. Its play by play Commentary from the Legendary John Motson was incredibly limited when compared to the same game released on Nintendo’s competitor’s hardware.

Playstation 1, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 consoles

To finish up, it is unbelievable to think that the Sony PlayStation and SEGA Saturn are about to turn 25 years old at the end of 2019. Where has the time gone? What do you remember when someone mentions games from 1994? Did you remember hearing about the “Super Consoles”? Oh and RIP Commodore. They went bankrupt in April of 1994 and I remember being very sad as a young boy who spent a lot of his childhood playing games on a Commodore 64 and being wowed by the Commodore Amiga 500.


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