By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards begin a tough four games in five nights stretch tonight as they host the Indiana Pacers at Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN+ | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Pacers lead the season series, 3-0.
The Wizards play their next four games against four Eastern Conference teams headed to the playoffs, including the top three seeds. But, if the Wizards trend of beating playoff teams continues, this could be just the stretch of games they need.
It starts tonight against a very physical Indiana Pacers team who just had a five game winning streak snapped last night when they were overtaken by the Oklahoma City Thunder in Indianapolis. They manged just eight points in the fourth quarter and ended up losing 97-75. They were led by Roy Hibbert's 22 points in the loss. The loss moved them 1.5 games behind the Knicks for the two seed in the Eastern Conference, and with just six games remaining every one is magnified that much more as they fight for positioning.
The Wizards will try and play spoiler over the next week as they try and shake up the seedings in the Eastern Conference by taking down the teams headed to the postseason. They have yet to beat the Pacers this season, but they have yet to play them with John Wall as the three previous losses came prior to his January 12th return. The Wizards have won eight consecutive games at Verizon Center and will look to continue that streak with a strong effort tonight against another formidable opponent.
It will be David West and Roy Hibbert who do the damage for Indiana on the post, but a lot of experts feel that Paul George can be the Pacers most dangerous player with Danny Granger out of the lineup. George is averaging 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season and is emerging into an elite player in this league. He can score from anywhere on the court and at his combination of size and quickness can be a real threat to opposing defenses.
Also at tonight's game, the 1978 Bullets Championship team will be honored in a halftime ceremony that will feature the unveiling of a new championship banner.
The action kicks off at 7pm.
After a slow start this season, Emeka Okafor has been as consistent as they come over the last three months and given the Wizards a solid post presence. He's averaging just over 15 points and nine rebounds per game over his last three games and has another big matchup tonight when he takes on the former Georgetown Hoya Roy Hibbert.
Also getting off to a slow start, Hibbert has turned it on in the second half and has transformed back into the player we saw last season. He's scored 20+ points in four of the Pacers last five games and has been in double figures in each of their last eight games. He will be a force to deal with tonight and the Okafor-Hibbert battle will be one to watch.
In the below clip, Trevor Booker feeds Okafor for the slam.
In this clip, Okafor scores on the reverse layup.