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Five questions about the Spurs’ matchup against the Washington Wizards

Getting to know tonight’s opponent with Becca Winkert of Wizards XTRA.

San Antonio Spurs v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Silver and Black play host to the third-place Wizards inside the AT&T Center tonight as Washington pursues their first victory in the 2-1-0 since 1999 while San Antonio searches for their first back-to-back victories this season.

The victor will likely be determined by which ball club can extinguish the other’s elite transition attack. But I went behind enemy lines and talked to Becca Winkert, Director of Wizards XTRA, to get a little more familiar with tonight’s opponent.

1. The Wizards haven’t won a game in San Antonio since they called the Alamodome home in 1999. What are the keys to them walking away victorious this go-round?

Washington is a team that’s at least willing to defend the paint and close out on shooters. Playing defense has been a large contributor to winning games. Previously, I had no idea why this organization would believe that it could score its way to prosperity. Any suffering Wizards fans will tell you this was a needed change in philosophy.

2. Washington traded away Russell Westbrook and acquired Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and Spencer Dinwiddie. What impact have these players had on the team?

That trade provided them much-needed depth and basketball IQ that the Wizards organization needed growth-wise. For years the Wizards struggled with depth beyond their starting five. The results speak for themselves.

3. First-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has this ball club out to their best 20-game start since 2014-2015. What changes has he made that have the Wizards clicking?

New coach, new team, it’s as simple as that. Top to bottom, this is the best Wizards roster I’ve seen in a long time. Wes Unseld Jr. is a defensive-minded coach, which has paid off for the team in their first 20 games.

4. Bradley Beal has seen a steep decline in points per game, free-throw attempts, and scoring efficiency this season. Are the new rule changes to blame, or is this just a slow start?

I have zero doubt Wes will figure out how to use Beal effectively as the team continues to gel and lock in their identity. He looks like he might be pressing the issue, when from what I can see- a little ball movement would go a long way. Another reason Bradley Beal hasn’t needed to provide the big numbers he produced in previous seasons is because of the depth the Wizards now have. There are several guys on this team that can pitch in and step up offensively on any giving night.

5. Spurs fans were absolutely in love with Deni Avdija during the 2020 NBA Draft cycle. Can you talk about how his game and role have evolved in Washington following a rookie season that was cut short by an ankle injury?

Deni Avdija is a phenomenal defender and can shoot the three. I would say he is improving in all areas, especially at the rim. The Wizards got a gem.

Thanks again to Becca for her time! Head over to Wizards XTRA to read more of her wonderful Washington Wizards content!