What did the Wizards do over the summer?
The most newsworthy move of the Wizards' offseason was the signing of Paul Pierce, but they made a number of quieter moves as well. Washington decided to part ways with veteran power forward Trevor Booker, who signed with the Utah Jazz, and wing Trevor Ariza, who went to the Houston Rockets in a sign-and-trade that was part of the three-team deal that sent former Houston center Omer Asik to New Orleans. The Wizards used this cap space to shore up their bigs, bringing in Kris Humphries and our old friend DeJuan Blair behind Marcin Gortat and the aging (and somewhat injury prone) Nene. They also signed Rasual Butler.
At some point during the summer the Wizards decided to become a sort of geriatric version of the Detroit Bad Boys, led by Paul "we're going to be the instigators" Pierce. The veteran managed to get four Wizards players, including Nene, suspended for the season opener after they left the bench during Pierce's altercation with Joakim Noah during a preseason match against Chicago.
What have they done lately?
The Wizards are off to an excellent 7-2 start and currently sit at number two in the East behind the Toronto Raptors. This is thanks in part to a very light schedule, with their two losses coming to the Raptors and Heat, the only two teams above .500 the Wizards have faced this year. Tonight's home game against Dallas will be their first this season against a Western Conference team.
The surprising start and easy schedule has prompted some concern over whether we'll start to see the Wizards regress as they face tougher teams. That may be the case, but Wizards fans can take comfort in knowing that they've achieved this record even with the absence of both a starter and a major role player. Fortunately for the Mavericks, neither of those players will be back for tonight's game. Shooting guard Bradley Beal fractured his wrist during the preseason and isn't expected to return until Friday's game against Cleveland, and backup swingman Martell Webster is still recovering from back surgery.
What do the Mavericks need to do to win?
Same thing they've been doing every night: score a lot of points and hope that makes up for less than elite defense. The Wizards are a highly rated defensive team (number six in the league so far), but they haven't yet won against a serious offensive challenge, with both losses coming against the only top 15 offenses they've faced. The most highly rated offense the Wizards have beaten this year? The New York Knicks.
Both teams will be coming off of at least one day of rest.
Will we get to see DeJuan Blair versus his old team?
Probably not. Despite doing a solid job in Dallas, Blair hasn't cracked Randy Wittman's rotation, playing just 11 minutes so far this season. We can dream, though!