WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 29: Thomas Bryant #13 of the Washington Wizards reacts against the Charlotte Hornets on December 29, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards look to even season series with Hornets

The Wizards will look to win their fifth straight game at home on Friday against the Hornets at 7:00 P.M. In the first night of a back-to-back, Washington will hit the halfway point of its five-game homestand, while Charlotte is on a four-game road trip and has not played since Monday. With only one and a half games separating the Wizards and Hornets in the standings, Friday will be a pivotal season series finale between these two teams. Washington is 21-12 at home and has won four of six, while Charlotte is 3-7 in its last 10 games and holds a 9-23 road record.

Game Info

Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBC Sports Washington | 1500 AM

Probable Starters

Wizards: G – Tomas Satoransky, G – Bradley Beal, F – Trevor Ariza, F – Jeff Green, C – Bobby Portis

Hornets: G – Kemba Walker, G – Nicolas Batum, F – Miles Bridges, F – Marvin Williams, C – Cody Zeller

Injury Report

Wizards: Dwight Howard (aggravated gluteal soreness – out), John Wall (left Achilles tendon tear – out), Sam Dekker (lower back soreness – questionable), Trevor Ariza (sore right knee – questionable)

Hornets: Cody Zeller (left knee swelling – doubtful), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (left knee strain – probable)

Storylines

Pivotal last game against Charlotte

After beating the Magic on Wednesday, Friday continues a key stretch of games for the Wizards. With wins in four of their last six games and two very close losses over the weekend, the Wizards have really found a rhythm in the past week-plus. In their last six games, the Wizards are sixth in the NBA in net rating at 5.9 points per 100 possessions. The Wizards rank first in the NBA in offensive rating (117.8) during that span. Washington now trails Miami by 3.5 games for the No. 8 spot, but a win over Charlotte would bring them right in the pack with the Magic and Hornets for the teams right behind the Heat. If a tiebreaker comes into play down the road, the Wizards need to win this game to tie the Hornets in the season series and force the next tiebreaker, which would likely be division record.

Protect home court

The Wizards have now won four in a row at Capital One Arena and are now 21-9 at home since starting the year 0-3. Washington has been a tough place to play for the away team all season long, and the Hornets have struggled away from Spectrum Center. The Hornets enter Friday’s game 9-23 on the road, including 6-15 against Eastern Conference teams. The Wizards have outscored opponents by 3.7 points per 100 possessions at home this season, while the Hornets have been outscored by 6.3 points per 100 possessions on the road. Even after Friday, the Wizards will still play four of their next five games at home before heading out West.

Beal and Walker

The season series finale will be the final duel of the season between Bradley Beal and Kemba Walker. Two of the top-scoring guards in the East, both Beal and Walker have dropped 45-plus point games in the series this year. Since the All-Star break, Beal is putting up 29.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 48.6% from the field. All four of those numbers are way up from his season averages. Beal has flirted with triple-doubles in recent games, playing sound defense, and has delivered the overall performances and leadership the Wizards need in order to win. For Charlotte, Walker’s points and assists averages are also up since the break, averaging 26.3 points and 6.7 assists on 43.6% shooting and 34.4% from deep. He continues to be one of the toughest players to guard in the NBA, and the Wizards will have their hands full trying to stop the three-time All-Star.

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