The news that John Wall will be out until at least January 2020 makes murkier still the future of the Wizards. Adding to their troubles, they go to Milwaukee tonight, where the league leaders will expect to add another win, writes Mark Kirwan...
"Through January they went 8-6, but wins over the Sixers, Bucks and Thunder show the potential. Beal averaged 27 points per game through the month, and the Wizards remain in contention for a playoff spot thanks to his play, just outside the eighth seed. Whether any of that really matters is worth asking though. "
Washington's woes continue
Washington Wizards @ Milwaukee Bucks
Live on Sky Sports Main Event, Arena
Should we really talk about John Wall's latest injury taking this season from bad to worse for the Wizards?
Everything was already pretty awful before their 28-year-old point guard, signed to a "supermax" contract in 2017, ruptured his Achilles tendon at home. His season was ended by heel surgery just after Christmas, and in truth, it felt like a relief for the rest of the Washington roster.
Tension bubbling between the team's leader - at least on the wage bill - and his younger backcourt colleague Bradley Beal were simmered down, and the Wizards at least looked more exciting without Wall, the likes of Thomas Bryant and Tomas Satoransky picking up their play in the vacuum.
Through January they went 8-6, but wins over the Sixers, Bucks and Thunder show the potential. Beal averaged 27 points per game through the month, and the Wizards remain in contention for a playoff spot thanks to his play, just outside the eighth seed.
Whether any of that really matters is worth asking though. Prior to his latest injury, the DC team would've dreamt of moving Wall on in the summer if they could get a team to take his contract, but the latest development means he's out for a calendar year at least. Whether he's able to play to the same level is now a legitimate worry.
No one is trading for Wall and his wages. It hamstrings the team for the next few years, so whether they climb into the postseason or not seems beside the point. Beal will likely be traded for picks and prospects and leave a lot to be fixed in Washington.
They've shown a real Jekyll and Hyde quality all season. They're 1-4 in their last five, the only win coming against a Pacers team still reeling from Victor Oladipo's injury. The Spurs, Cavs, Bucks and Hawks have all collected wins in that run. That's a high variance of opponent quality.
The Bucks, meanwhile, continue to roll. They've lost once in their last eleven games, and that was at the Thunder. They have the best record in the league, covered in four straight games and have the second-best handicap form in the league.
The Wizards, meanwhile, are ranked last for performances against the line on the road. That makes the 11.5 line both predictable and unappealing. Instead, I'd rather take on the total points market. Given the Wizards are scoring at 113 points per game this season, and posted 115 when these two played on Saturday, the total of 229.5 looks within reach in this one.
Nets tied up by injuries
Denver Nuggets @ Brooklyn Nets
Live on Betfair Video
Injuries are finally catching up with the Nets. After winning six in a row they're 1-4 in the last five, and that losing burst has coincided with Spencer Dinwiddie's absence as sixth man.
Caris Levert and Allen Crabbe are inching back to fitness, and that should give them some hope, but with Jared Dudley and Joe Harris also missing time, their depth is being tested to breaking point.
Most disappointing is their loss at Orlando on Saturday. It's the kind of game they have been winning recently, and a shame because they'd become one of the more interesting teams in the league since Christmas.
They take on the Nuggets at the Barclays Center with Denver also carrying some wounded men. Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap and Gary Harris will all likely miss this game.
They haven't been suffering as much though, winning six on the trot until Monday at the Pistons. That 26-point loss will have shaken their confidence, but they should have enough to get back on track here. The under would be my first choice if the line is set at 230 or more because Denver has one of the worst records in the league away from home on totals, but injuries mean the line hasn't settled yet on the Exchange, and the handicap is small enough at -2 on the Nuggets to appeal at [1.92] as well.
Kings crowning achievement
Houston Rockets @ Sacramento Kings
Live on Betfair Video
James Harden extraordinary scoring roadshow hits Sacramento with the top Rocket having enjoyed eight 40+ point games in January, and never having a night under 35 in their six other games in the opening month of 2019.
Denver can pat themselves on the back for holding him to 30 points on February 2nd, his lowest total since early December, but it's been service as usual in the following games against Phoenix and Utah, with 44 and 43 his return. This dominant streak has seen his team climb back into the Western playoff picture, but they're still just 3 games ahead of tonight's opponents.
That the Kings are competitive still in the brutally tough conference is an achievement in itself. They've won three straight at home coming into this, and that this run includes Philadelphia and San Antonio shows how they're hanging in there.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield are supplemented by 2017 first rounder De'Aaron Fox, and Marvin Bagley is starting to play well enough that maybe, just maybe, passing on Luka Doncic doesn't look so bad.
These two teams make for a striking contrast looking at their spread numbers. The Rockets have the second-worst road record in the league against the number, and have gone 1-6 in their last seven away games, and 2-8 in all of their last ten match-ups.
The Kings are 19-7-1 at home on the handicap, the best record in the league. They've covered in eight games straight at home too, so it's tempting to wonder if the lines are going to catch up with them tonight, but I think it makes more sense to ride the trends here and take the in-form home team getting 3 points.
1pt on Over 229.5 in Wizards-Bucks @ [1.91] on the Exchange
1pt on Denver Nuggets @ [1.92] on the Exchange
1pt on Sacramento Kings +3 @ [1.91] on the Exchange