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John Wall has Wizards on a roll heading into Dallas

Photo Credit: IGN.com

Photo Credit: IGN.com

After five consecutive miserable seasons, the Washington Wizards returned to relevancy last year with a 44-38 campaign and an impressive postseason series victory over the Chicago Bulls. The Wizards gave the top-seeded Indiana Pacers a run for their money in the next round before ultimately bowing out in six games.

Washington entered this season ready to make that next step. Gone was Trevor Ariza after a career year, but in was veteran Paul Pierce to take Ariza’s spot at small forward. John Wall and Bradley Beal had established themselves as one of the best backcourts in the leagues, while Nene and Marcin Gortat were formidable in the frontcourt.

There was a slight setback to start the year when Beal broke his left wrist, but that didn’t stop the Wizards. Washington went 7-2 in Beal’s absence thanks to strong defense and the brilliance of Wall. The Wizards gave up just 96.4 points per game in those nine games, while Wall averaged 19.4 points and 9.1 assists.

Washington has really taken off in December, boasting a 12-3 record in the month. The Wizards’ 22-8 record overall matches the best start in franchise history, and it has them tied for second in the Eastern Conference.

Wall has been an absolute stud and is just getting better. He’s shooting 49.3 percent in December, a mark that would be the best shooting percentage in any month of his career. There’s still one more game left for the Wizards this month, and it’s a tough one in Dallas against the Mavericks on Tuesday night.

This will be the second game of a tough Texas back-to-back for Washington, who pulled out an impressive 104-103 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night. The Wizards nearly blew an 18-point second-half lead in the win, but they made just enough plays down the stretch to avoid a collapse. Beal scored a season-high 33 points, and Pierce hit a dagger three with 1:12 left to help seal the deal.

Dallas will pose another major challenge, as they enter the game with the league’s second-best offense, per NBA.com. The Mavericks are 22-10 and winners of two straight as they continue to incorporate newcomer Rajon Rondo into their high-powered attack. The offense has taken a bit of a dip with Rondo in the lineup, but the defense has shown signs of improvement.

Considering this game is in Dallas and the Wizards are on the second night of a back-to-back, it’s not surprising to see Vegas favor the Mavericks. Dallas opened as a 4.5-point favorite, and that has increased to five points at most sports books. The Mavericks have also already beaten the Wizards once this season, a 105-102 triumph in Beal’s season debut back in mid-November.

Neither team has been all that good against the spread this season. Washington is 6-6 against the spread on the road, while Dallas is just 6-10-1 against the spread at home, according to VegasInsider.com. Taking all this into account, this should be a competitive game featuring two excellent teams. If the Wizards can pull off another road victory, they’ll be riding high heading into the next three games of their brutal Western Conference road trip.



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