By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards begin a three game road trip with a stop in Philadelphia to take on the 76ers tonight at Wells Fargo Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). This is the first game of a three game season series with the Sixers.
It is rare to play an Eastern Conference team for the first time after the midway point of the season, but that will be the case tonight as the Wizards and Sixers meet for the first time of the year. After making the playoffs last season, the Sixers have struggled this year, mostly due to the fact that their big off-season acquisition, Andrew Bynum, has missed the entire year with a knee injury. His absence has left a big hole in the middle and without Andre Iguodala, who was involved in the trade that landed Bynum in Philadelphia, they have not been able to win as consistently as they did last year.
A bright spot for the Sixers has been the play of fourth year point guard Jrue Holiday, who was just named to his first All-Star Game. He has taken a leap to the next level, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, and minutes. Holiday was a good young guard and has become an All-Star who is the focal point of the Sixers offense. He has 12 double-doubles this season and ranks fourth in the NBA with 9.0 assists per game.
The Wizards are coming off a disappointing home loss to the Sacramento Kings as they let a lead slip away in the fourth quarter. Tonight is the most winnable game of the road trip, with Memphis and San Antonio on deck, so this will be a game the Wizards will want to add to the win column. They lost a bit of their rhythm in the second half on Monday night, so it will be important for them to move the ball early and get back to what was working so well for them over their recent stretch of games.
The Sixers rank 3rd in the NBA in turnovers per game, averaging just 12.8, which means they won't beat themselves. They have a strong backcourt and rely heavily on their trio of Holiday, Young, and Turner to carry much of the scoring load. If the Wizards can neutralize these weapons and match the Sixers starting unit, look for the Wizards bench to provide a spark and be the difference in this one tonight.
The action kicks off at 7pm.
John Wall has returned from his knee injury and the Wizards are 6-4 in the 10 games he's played in. He has provided a lift to a team that was searching for a spark and has made his teammates better by opening up the floor and being able to create for himself. While he is still on a minutes limit, his time has increased as he continues to get back into playing shape.
Tonight, he goes up against a first-time All-Star in Jrue Holiday. He was a guard who at times had a score first mentality in his first three years in the league, but now has become a top distributor in the league, ranking fourth in assists with 9.0 per game. It has not affected his scoring, as he is also averaging just over 19 points per game and leads the Sixers in both categories.
In the below clip, John Wall goes in for the breakway slam.
In this clip, Wall addressed the media after Monday's game.