The new red, white and blue Wizards will open the regular season at 7 p.m. against the New Jersey Nets — and the uniforms, logos and shiny court aren’t all that fans should be interested in seeing at Verizon Center.
John Wall will have his first test against an elite point guard in all-star Deron Williams, but the home opener will not be a sellout, which is understandable considering the past three seasons of lottery failures for the Wizards and a mediocre opponent that is missing Brook Lopez, one of its best two players.
The NBA lockout delayed the start of the season and chopped off 16 games from the normal 82, but even a condensed schedule features a few highlights. Here are five can’t-miss games for the truncated campaign. And no, the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers didn’t make the list. The other team from Los Angeles? Well, it is a new day on the NBA landscape:
Jan. 1 vs. Boston
The young Wizards will start 2012 with a back-to-back set against the aging Celtics and immediately test the theory about what will be most advantageous during a shortened season: young legs or veteran savvy.
Jan. 11 at Chicago
John Wall will always be measured against fellow former No. 1 pick and John Calipari-product Derrick Rose, who dominated Wall in two games and even contributed to his injury woes in their first meeting.
Jan. 18 vs. Oklahoma City
The Wizards would like to have a rise from lottery to legit contender similar to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which Kevin Durant lifted from 23 wins to the Western Conference finals in just two years.
Feb. 4 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Lob City make their lone visit to Verizon Center for what should an entertaining alley-oop filled game. Caron Butler should also play his first game in D.C. since being traded in Feb. 2010.
Feb. 10 vs. Miami
No matter what offseason moves were made, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh remain the marquee game on the calendar. Defending Eastern Conference champions make first of two visits.