Basketball / NBA

Wizards slated to begin NBA season at Dallas on Oct. 23

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Rookie forward Rui Hachimura and the Washington Wizards are scheduled to play a trio of road games to begin the 2019-20 NBA campaign, it was announced as the league unveiled its regular-season schedule on Monday.

Washington faces the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 23, followed by away games against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 25 and the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 26.

The Wizards’ home opener is on Oct. 30 against the Houston Rockets.

The NBA, meanwhile, opens on Oct. 22. A pair of enticing matchups are among the day’s featured games: New Orleans Pelicans at reigning champion Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers, giving fans a first look at No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson in a meaningful game in the former and a chance to see the rebuilt California rivals, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the Clippers, up close.

As always, the Christmas Day TV schedule is an action-packed extravaganza. This year, it features five national telecasts: Boston Celtics at Toronto, Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns, Houston at Golden State Warriors, Clippers at Lakers and New Orleans at Denver Nuggets.

Guard/forward Yuta Watanabe, a George Washington University alum, is entering his second season with the Memphis Grizzlies organization. He split time with the Grizzlies and the Memphis Hustle, their NBA G League affiliate, as a rookie. Under first-year bench boss Taylor Jenkins, the Grizzlies usher in their season with a road contest against the Miami Heat on Oct. 23. Two days later, Memphis plays the Chicago Bulls in its home opener, with the Brooklyn Nets set to visit FedEx Forum on Oct. 27. The Grizzlies then fly west to face the Lakers on Oct. 29.

The Grizzlies are scheduled to meet the Wizards on Dec. 14 in Memphis and on Feb. 9 in the U.S. capital.

The second potential on-court clash between Hachimura, who rose to stardom at Gonzaga University over the past three seasons before being selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in June, and Watanabe is during a stretch of the season in which the Wizards play six straight home games from late January to mid-February. That stretch includes (in succession) matches against the Charlotte Hornets, Nets, Warriors, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Bulls.

Washington also has another six-game homestand to close out this year and begin 2020, including a New Year’s Day game against the Orlando Magic.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks’ squad faces the visiting Detroit Pistons on Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), a Monday matinee showdown. In addition to matching coaching wits with Brooks, the game will give Pistons sideline supervisor Dwane Casey, a former JBL and Japan college coach, another chance to observe Hachimura’s rookie season. The first chance? Nov. 4 at Capital One Arena in Washington.

Washington has two four-game road trips to the West Coast. Games from the first trek: Nov. 26 (at Denver), Nov. 27 (at Phoenix), Nov. 29 (at Lakers) and Dec. 1 (at Clippers). The second expedition: Feb. 28 (at Utah Jazz), March 1 (at Golden State), March 3 (at Sacramento Kings) and March 4 (at Portland Trail Blazers).

A quick breakdown of the Wizards’ 2019-20 schedule on a day-by-day basis: Mondays (11 games), Tuesdays (eight), Wednesdays (18), Thursdays (four), Fridays (19), Saturdays (10) and Sundays (12).

The regular season wraps up on April 15.