Wizards in Philadelphia to battle new-look 76ers
Following Wednesday night’s loss in New Orleans, the Wizards travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers. This marks the Wizards’ first game against the new-look Sixers, who now feature Jimmy Butler. The Wizards split the season series with the Sixers in 2017-18, losing two in Philly, while winning both games at home. Tonight marks the first of four games between the two teams.
Wells Fargo Center | 7:00 P.M. | NBC Sports Washington | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – John Wall, G – Bradley Beal, F – Kelly Oubre Jr., F – Otto Porter Jr., C – Thomas Bryant
Sixers: G – Ben Simmons, G – J.J. Redick, G – Jimmy Butler, F – Wilson Chandler, C – Joel Embiid
Wizards: Dwight Howard (aggravated gluteal soreness – out)
Sixers: Jonah Bolden (right leg – out), Markelle Fultz (shoulder – out), Justin Patton (right foot – out), Zhaire Smith (left foot – out)
After dealing with Anthony Davis on Wednesday night, the Wizards face another formidable big man tonight in Joel Embiid. The 7-foot center, playing in his third NBA season, is in the midst of an MVP-caliber year. Embiid is currently touting per-game career highs in points (28.0), rebounds (13.3), and assists (3.7). He’s also totaled 13 games with 30+ points, as well as 21 double-doubles. What makes defending Embiid so difficult is his uniquely versatile skill-set. He’s a dominant back-to-the-basket player and is also lethal from mid-range. He can knock down 3-pointers and is nimble enough to sift around defenders on a fast break. Philadelphia’s offense flows through Embiid, which makes limiting his production a top priority. That task will fall on the shoulders of Thomas Bryant, Markieff Morris, and possibly Ian Mahinmi.
Bench spark and 3-point shooting
The Wizards have gotten solid performances from their bench players recently. Austin Rivers, Jeff Green, Morris, and Tomas Satoransky have all made an impact for the team. Morris has specifically stood out in terms of scoring, as he’s averaged 17.4 points per contest over the past five games, while shooting 41.9 % from beyond the arc. In the team's loss in New Orleans, Morris totaled 22 points to go along with four 3-pointers. Morris seems to be thriving in his current role, which has generally boosted the team. The trend of positive bench production will have to continue against Philadelphia.
While the Sixers managed to acquire Jimmy Butler, they lost two of their key players in the process. Robert Covington and Dario Saric played integral roles for the Sixers, specifically as complementary 3-point scorers to Embiid and Simmons. The loss of Covington and Saric has impacted the team's 3-point shooting efforts. In 15 games without Butler, the Sixers attempted 33.3 3-pointers per game, compared to 26.5 attempts per game with Butler. However, despite shooting less frequently, the Sixers are shooting at a more efficient clip. Philadelphia’s second unit consists of T.J. McConnell, Mike Muscala, Amir Johnson, Furkan Korkmaz, and rookie Landry Shamet.
Battle of pace
The Wizards and 76ers represent the NBA's 5th and 6th highest paced teams. It's not surprising, considering both teams feature dynamic point guards who can get things moving quickly in transition. Both teams should have rested legs after a full off day, though the Wizards do play again on Saturday for their third back-to-back of the season.
- The 76ers are 11-1 at home this season, and 34-2 in their last 36 home games.
- The Wizards haven’t won in Philadelphia since the 2015-16 season when they defeated the 76ers 99-94.
- Bradley Beal (24) and Otto Porter Jr. (23) combined for 47 points in the last meeting between these teams, which resulted in a Wizards win.