Preview: Wizards return to D.C. for Game 3 vs. Sixers
The Wizards are back in D.C. on Saturday night for Game 3 of their first round series against the Sixers. Washington is coming off a pair of losses in Philadelphia, but will look to ride a red-hot Bradley Beal and a home court advantage to a series turnaround.
The Wizards announced pregame that Russell Westbrook (right ankle sprain) would play. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said during his pregame media availability that Davis Bertans would move into the starting lineup in place of Raul Neto.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | ESPN & NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Bradley Beal, F – Davis Bertans, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Alex Len
Sixers: G – Ben Simmons, G – Seth Curry, G – Danny Green, F – Tobias Harris, C – Joel Embiid
Wizards: Deni Avdija (right ankle fracture – out), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Russell Westbrook (right ankle sprain – available)
Sixers: Seth Curry (left ankle soreness – available)
Wizards staying optimistic despite offensive struggles
While the Wizards are coming off of a disappointing performance in Game 2 and trail 0-2 in the series overall, there are a few areas where slight improvement could make a substantial difference in the Wizards’ efforts to turn the series around. As Bradley Beal has continued to play at an All-NBA level, averaging 33.0 points on 52.9% shooting, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in two games, Washington has been unable to generate much secondary scoring. After Beal, Russell Westbrook ranks second on the team in scoring this postseason with 13.5 points per game, one of only four Wizards players averaging double-digit scoring. A good portion of those offensive struggles can be attributed to a team-wide cold streak from beyond the arc. The Wizards shot 2-22 (.091) from three on Wednesday and rank last among all 16 playoff teams in 3-point shooting. Despite the struggles, Wizards coaches and players are keeping a level head as the series moves to D.C.
“(Philadelphia) did what they were supposed to do, now we have a chance to do what we are supposed to do,” Brooks said after practice on Friday. “We play well at home. We have a lot of guys that are excited about his opportunity. We regrouped and we know we can play better.”
Wizards eager for home court advantage with capacity boosted to 50%
Washington will get another significant boost on Saturday in the form of a 10,000-fan home court advantage. The team announced earlier this week that, in accordance with local regulations, Capital One Arena’s capacity would be increased from 25% to 50%. The Wizards have already seen the impact that small increases in fans, from 0% to 10% and 10% to 25%, can have on the atmosphere in the building.
“I’m excited,” Daniel Gafford said on Friday. “I can’t wait for it. I know the energy is going to be trying to blow the roof off the building. There are a lot of people who have been waiting for this moment to be back in the arena…I just can’t wait. I can’t wait to see all the fans. I can’t wait to just have that energy that’s been missing from NBA arenas all year.”
Per the team’s announcement, all fans attending Game 3 will receive a rally towel branded with the team’s tagline “DC Above All” while fans in attendance for Game 4 will receive a t-shirt. While social distancing guidelines will no longer be in place for most seat locations at Capital One Arena, all fans must continue to wear a mask at all times while in the arena except for when actively eating or drinking in their designated seat locations. All other arena protocols will remain in place, including the “no bags” policy, designated points of entry included on each ticket and enhanced cleaning measures throughout the arena. Fans interested in attending either Game 3 or 4 can purchase tickets HERE.