Wizards’ six-game road trip a ‘good test’ to end preseason

(Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

 

The home part of the preseason schedule is already over after one game at Verizon Center and now the Wizards will play their next six on the road, beginning on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Over the next two weeks, they will also travel to Brooklyn to open the Barclays Center, Toronto, Milwaukee, Kansas City to play the defending champion Miami Heat, and San Antonio.

“That’s going to be a good test for us to see how far we’ve come from our first road game to see how we end up at the end of the preseason,” point guard A.J. Price said. “I think it’s something that we need. We almost have to come together. We’re going to be by ourselves and we need to play within ourselves and within the system.”

The Wizards have a three-game set ending Wednesday in Toronto, return home for two practices, head off to Milwaukee for a game on Oct. 20, return home for a few practices, then leave for Kansas City on Oct. 24 and San Antonio on Oct. 26. The regular season starts in Cleveland on Oct. 30.

“Yeah, it should bring the team closer,” shooting guard Jordan Crawford said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Aside from getting more familiar with each other off the court, rookie Bradley Beal believes that the extended stretch away from his new home will him get prepared for a regular season in which six of the first 10 games are on the road.

“I have to get used to it,” Beal said. “We’re playing the rest of our games on the road. Get used to being on the road a lot and being able to travel from city to city almost every night. It’s a big adjustment.”

The Wizards made some improvements from their first loss in Charlotte to their home loss against New York: They reduced their turnovers, shot the ball better and continued to rebound well. But the offensive struggles of the starting five has forced Randy Wittman to look into testing different pairings moving forward.

Beal, Martell Webster and Jannero Pargo played well against the Knicks and could get a shot to start against the Cavaliers in place of Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza and Price. Wittman continues to remain coy about which players he’ll move around but he will certainly make some noticeable adjustments.

“We’re going to change the lineup,” Wittman said. “Right now, I’m going to get a feel of five guys playing together in different combinations together, to look at it for that reason.”

Emeka Okafor participated in Saturday’s morning shootaround after missing the past two days because of a stomach virus that caused him to lose 12 pounds. Okafor will be listed as a game-time decision and Wittman said he would wait to see how he feels before putting him on the floor for his debut.

The Wizards game against Cleveland will only be heard on the radio at 1500 AM.

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