Washington Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers Matchup Preview
The NBA restart in Orlando continues as the Washington Wizards (24-43) will take on the Philadelphia 76ers (40-27). The Sixers are currently sitting at the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, having dropped a spot behind the Indiana Pacers. The Wizards, on the other hand, are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. They were initially invited to the bubble because they were within six games of the 8th seed in the East. However, things have not gone according to plan thus far for Washington. The Wizards have dropped all three of their NBA restart games so far and face a worthy foe in the 76ers. The team has been without their best three players in John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans during the Orlando restart. Nearly every player on this team will need to step up against the 76ers, who boast one of the more impressive starting lineups in the NBA. As a Wizards fan, it has been tough to watch this team so far in the bubble. We’ve lost to the Suns, Nets, and Pacers in the three games that we’ve played. If I had to be real, the chances of the Wizards winning this game against the 76ers might not be great. However, we did beat them once during the regular season, so you never know.
Time: 4:00 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
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Wizards Starting 5
The Wizards enter tonight’s game eight games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the 8th seed in the East. If Washington wants to force a play-in tournament for the 8th seed, they will need to be within four games of the Nets by the time the seeding games in the bubble are over. With only five games remaining on the Wizards schedule, their chances of forcing a play-in tournament are slim to none. With that in mind, Coach Scott Brooks and his young team should have extra basketball games to play. Rui Hachimura scored 21 points in the team’s first game against the Suns but has only scored nine points in each of Washington’s last two games. I hope that Brooks would put Hachimura in positions to get touches and score, as these games are an excellent opportunity for him to develop.
Something else that I’ve noticed from watching the Wizards in the bubble is Troy Brown Jr.’s ability to pass the ball. He is more of a point forward than a small forward, and I think that Brooks should try playing him at point guard. He is 6’6 and would be a tall, playmaking guard that could fit nicely in the Wizards lineup. Unfortunately, Coach Brooks will probably not do this, as he’s generally not creative with his lineups. The Wizards will inevitably lose most, if not all, of their bubble games. If the players continue to look unmotivated and Brooks refuses to do anything creative with his lineup, I think it is time that the Wizards part ways with him.
76ers Starting 5
After losing to the Indiana Pacers, who were led by the red-hot T.J. Warren, the Sixers rebounded nicely with a close win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Sixers are a game behind Indiana for the 5th seed and are two games behind Miami for the 4th seed. If Philadelphia wants to avoid a first-round series against the Boston Celtics, they need to close the gap between themselves and the teams above them. Luckily, the 76ers shouldn’t have any problems with the Wizards in their next matchup.
Not only are the Wizards without their best players, but they also boast the worst defense in the entire NBA. Washington’s starting backcourt consists of Ish Smith and Shabazz Napier. Although both players are decent offensively, they are both atrocious on the defensive side of the ball. Ben Simmons should have a field day going up against these guys, although it is likely that the Wizards will throw Troy Brown Jr. or a bigger defender on him. Joel Embiid should also be licking his chops heading into this game. Thomas Bryant is coming off of 30-point and 20-point outings in his last two games, but this does not make up for his lack of defense. Embiid is perhaps the best post-scoring big in the entire league. Considering Bryant’s history of being a suspect defender, expect Embiid to have a big outing against the Wizards.
Wizards vs 76ers Fantasy Basketball Angle
As I mentioned in the last paragraph, defense is a massive problem for the Wizards. They have the worst defense in the NBA statistically, so there were a few players that I could’ve picked to highlight for fantasy purposes. However, the one player who should certainly have a big day against Washington is Joel Embiid. Washington’s big men consist of Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, and Anzejs Pasecniks. Those players all have talent offensively but lack that talent on defense. Joel Embiid, who was averaging about nine points per game from the post this season, should have a lot of success against the Wizards’ big men. I expect him to be huge for the 76ers in this game and possibly lead them in scoring and rebounding. Ben Simmons also might have a mismatch on defense, which makes me believe that the pick and roll between those two could be deadly against Washington. If you have him on your fantasy team, start Joel Embiid tomorrow.
Wizards vs 76ers Betting Odds
Wizards Odds Odds: +450
76ers Odds: -600
Out of all of the games that I have previewed thus far during the NBA restart, the 76ers are favored by the largest margin I have seen. Even though I am a loyal Wizards fan, I cannot make a valid argument that they will win this game. They are outmatched at every position by this Sixers team, and tomorrow’s game could be ugly. However, the Wizards have shown throughout the year that they can be a solid team offensively. I’d take the over in this matchup for that reason, as it’s inevitable that the Sixers will get theirs in this game. Overall, take the Sixers unless you are feeling lucky.
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