Pre-Game

Gameday: Wizards @ Raptors, Nov. 23

The Washington Wizards visit the Toronto Raptors, looking to remind everyone that the Eastern Conference runs through them. Before diving into it, a live look at the Washington locker room:

If your interpretation of this was: Otto Porter Jr. is getting cut off, Bradley Beal is apathetic and removed, and John Wall is running into problems that no one knew were there. Then good for you, because that’s exactly it.

The Raptors are still sitting pretty atop the NBA’s standings at 15-4. A Blake Bortles toss away from that, the Wizards sit at 6-11. Only 2.5 games behind inevitable Eastern Conference Champions, the Boston Celtics, who are dominating at 9-9 and 3-7 in their last ten.

To prep for this wild night of basketball, I reached out to BulletsForever staff writer, Alan Jenkins.

But first, a nose boop:

Samson Folk: Thanks so much for doing this Alan. Your profile picture is wonderfully apropos. What is the general feeling amongst fans of the Wizards franchise? Has it shifted to a “laugh at my pain” type of atmosphere, or is it typically an angry group of fans?

*Alan’s profile pic

Alan Jenkins: The fanbase is on edge. It’s clear that the front office has come up short once again in providing sufficient talent around Wall and Beal and they are making their voices heard loud and clear. The fanbase is fed up with the front office and is worried that after what has gone down over the last 48 hours, that change will be made at the roster level and not necessarily at the top. As a result, the rumblings for Ernie Grunfeld to be let go are as loud as they’ve ever been. Right now, this is a pretty disgusted and fed up fanbase.

Folk: There’s a fair few folks in the Raptors fanbase who are salivating over Beal as a trade prospect, on account of his terrific playoff performances. What is the most realistic trade you could concoct that would have Beal joining the Raptors?

Alan Jenkins: Sorry, I’m not your guy for this question, I’m not a big hypothetical trade person. But yes, if I was the Raptors (or any team really) I would call and inquire about Beal as it seems like a team might be able to strike a deal for 75 cents on the dollar right now.

Folk: Of all the players on Washington, who is worth saving, who needs to leave?

Alan Jenkins: If the Wizards do indeed blow this thing up, I can picture a scenario where Wall, Beal, and Porter are no longer in Washington. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Beal. Beal is younger than Wall, his injury problems look to be in the rearview mirror, and still has another level that he can get to. Wall’s super-max contract kicks in starting next year and it looks like he’s maybe peaked as a player. So if the team were to rebuild, it makes sense to get rid of Wall’s super-max deal that they’ll have to pay him over the next 4 years. You keep Porter if you can, although if they blow this thing up, he’s definitely going to be gone. You keep Kelly Oubre if you don’t have to overpay him this summer and all of a sudden, the Dwight Howard acquisition looks like a bargain. Outside of Oubre, of the free agents, you keep Tomas Satoransky around as he’s proven to be a very solid player when given the opportunity. As for who has to go, folks would not be upset if Markieff Morris, Austin Rivers, and Ian Mahinmi (although it’ll be hard to move his contract) were shown the door.

Folk: Is Otto Porter Jr. a top 40 player if utilized properly? What do you see as his ceiling?

Alan Jenkins: This is the classic what came first the chicken or the egg question. Otto Porter thrives as the third option on a team. He doesn’t have the type of personality to lead a team but would fit in almost any scenario he was put in. With that said, I think we’re seeing that his ceiling is that of an above average starter and a good teammate who’s willing to do whatever is asked of him.

Folk: With the “Wall & Beal” era seemingly coming to a close, do you think that the Raps-Wiz rivalry dies with it? Looking back, what are your favourite moments from these two teams games over the past 5 years?

Alan Jenkins: As a Wizards fan this is a no-brainer, the first round sweep in 2015.

Folk: What’s the opinion on the Raptors from Washington? Finals contender, or doomed to fail in the playoffs?

Alan Jenkins:  I’m very bullish on the Raptors and have been since the trade for Kawhi. Like in Washington, it was clear what the ceiling was for Lowry and DeRozan and I think it was ballsy but needed for the front office to swing for the fences to show they were serious about winning. So far this year, it’s clearly paid off. As far as the playoffs go, I do think there are some demons and mental hurdles to overcome but that should be a bit easier now that LeBron is in the west. So yes, I think they are very legitimate contenders in the east but at the same time need to see it to believe it due to recent postseason shortcomings.

Folk: Thanks, mate.

Alan Jenkins: You got it!

Now that we’ve all satiated our need to be loved after Alan’s glowing review of the Raptors, let’s lay-out the boring stuff.

Game Info

7:30 ET | TV: TSN | Radio: SportsNet FAN590.  The line is -10 for the Raptors with an over-under of 228.5, with yobetit betting offering some attractive bonus codes.

Raptors Updates

OG Anunoby (Wrist) and CJ Miles (adductor) are both probable for today’s game. Norman Powell (shoulder) is still sidelined.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Lorenzo Brown, Jordan Loyd

SG: Danny Green, Malachi Richardson

SF: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, CJ Miles

PF: Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby

C: Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka, Greg Monroe, Chris Boucher

Wizards Updates

Dwight Howard (back) is questionable for today’s game.

PG: John Wall, Tomas Satoransky, Chasson Randle

SG: Bradley Beal, Austin Rivers

SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Troy Brown Jr.

PF: Markieff Morris, Jeff Green, Jason Smith, Devon Robinson

C: Dwight Howard, Ian Mahinmi, Thomas Bryant

The Line

The Raptors are 10-point favourites, and the over/under is 228.5.

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