The Wizards will be without Nene and Kevin Seraphin as they attempt to extend their win streak to a season-high four games and go above .500 for just the second time this season. Marcin Gortat is the only healthy center on the roster, but the undermanned Wizards have a great opportunity to claim a win against an Orlando Magic team that has lost 15 consecutive road games.
“We don’t need to regroup,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “We’re going to play the same way. Nothing is going to change. Our philosophy doesn’t change. Guys are going to have opportunities. We kind of talk about this all year long, when you have a 15-man roster, you can’t play 15 guys and at some point opportunities arise and all of a sudden, here’s your opportunity and so with kevin out and Nene, there’s going to be opportunities tonight for guys that haven’t played many minutes to step up. And I’ve got all the confidence in the world of plugging guys in there.”
Trevor Booker will get the start at power forward, but Wittman will have to be creative given the team’s shortcomings inside. But Gortat is ready to carry a heavier load.
“Right after Nene got hurt I actually was cracking jokes, ‘Seriously Nene, now I got to take all the shots?’ He started laughing and said, this is a huge opportunity for me,” Gortat said. “I’d like to fill out that spot and be the focal point offensively, especially under the basket, be the guy who’s going to get some buckets and stuff like that but we’ll see. We got to go with the flow of the game.”
Al Harrington will also get some time as the Wizards’ stretch four off the bench. Harrington played backup center during his small-ball days with the Golden State Warriors but would prefer to stay around the perimeter given his past knee troubles. The game will represent his first chance to go up against the Magic since negotiating a buyout last August. He missed the last meeting while recovering from a right knee injury.
“Not really,” Harrington said, when asked if he was fired up to face his former team. “My time there was so short, I don’t really have any ill will toward anybody there. it’s another game that I feel, in order for us, to step in the right direction and grow as a team, we got to win the game. That’s all I’m focused on is trying to win the game.”
With Nene down, Harrington said the Wizards have a greater focus beyond helping him defeat the Magic. “We’ve got to find a way to get the ship going in the right direction until we can get him back.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: