Although they enter tonight’s contest as winners of six of their last seven games, the Markelle Fultz saga continues to cloud some of the Sixers’ recent success. Tonight, however, will be a rare opportunity for the Sixers to look across the scorer’s table and find a team dealing with even more drama than the fallen number one pick.
Enter the Washington Wizards! Despite a tumultuous start to the season which included GM Ernie Grunfeld making the entire roster available via trade and John Wall doing his best T-Wolves Jimmy Butler impersonation, the Wizards enter tonight 6-4 in their last ten games and just 1.5 games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Wiz will rely heavily on their starting backcourt of John Wall and some Sixers fans’ favorite hypothetical trade target, Bradley Beal. Both players’ usage is amongst the highest for their positions (Wall 32.5% for Wall and 24.8% for Beal), so expect to see a lot of action from them. Although the Sixers have struggled to contain guards so far this season, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons are theoretically well equipped to handle Wall and Beal. Whether or not Brett Brown designates those assignments can only be answered after tip.
The Wizards enter tonight’s matchup with the worst Defensive Rating in the NBA - yielding 113.9 points per 100 possessions. They rank 21st in the league in opponents FG% at the rim, allowing teams to hit 63.7% of their attempts in close - a figure that could worsen as Washington will be without big man Dwight Howard for two to three months. Expect the Sixers to once again lean heavily on Joel Embiid, as the Wizards will be trotting out a big man rotation of Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith.
Washington’s one defensive bright spot, however, is a concern for the Sixers. The Wizards’ 16.7 TOV% (turnovers forced) is good enough for fourth in the league, while the Sixers rank 25th in turnovers offensively, coughing the ball up on 15.5% of their possessions.
If the Sixers are able to limit Beal and Wall’s effectiveness while managing to keep care of the ball offensively, they should expect to walk out of The Center with a league best 12th home victory.
Who: Sixers vs Wizards
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
When: 7:00 PM EST
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic