With the Sixers on a four-game winning streak, they set their sights on another victory tonight in the nation’s capital. So far this year, the team has looked dominant at home and vulnerable on the road. This seems like the perfect game to gain some confidence away from the Wells Fargo Center against a struggling Wizards team.
Consecutive off days in the schedule came at the perfect time for the Sixers, as several close games in a short amount of time had many of the team’s most important players playing heavy minutes. Joel Embiid played each of the last seven games, all in a span of 11 days, including two separate back-to-back’s, and Ben Simmons was forced to play almost the entirety of the second half in several games. While neither player seems to be any worse for wear, a few days off could do them and the entire team some good.
As part of the four-game winning streak, the Sixers are coming off consecutive wins against likely playoff teams Indiana and Utah. Tobias Harris has stepped up as a late-game closer recently; he had one of his best games of the season against Indiana, scoring 22 on 8-of-16 shooting, then had a big fourth quarter on Monday to reach 26 points and help close out the win over the Jazz. Ben Simmons has proved to be a clutch defender with key steals during crunch-time in several games of late, starting to get some buzz as a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
The Sixers and Wizards are on two completely different trajectories this season — Philadelphia is in the hunt for a championship, while Washington has been decimated by injuries and looks to be evaluating the young talent on their roster. Sitting at 6-13 on the season, the Wizards are coming off a 127-120 loss to the Orlando Magic, where Bradley Beal continued to flex his star power by dropping 42 points.
Things might not be looking too great in Washington at the moment, but they have had a few bright spots so far. Rookie Rui Hachimura has looked like a strong building block after many questioned his fit, Davis Bertans has come into his own in his first year with the team after a tenure in San Antonio, and Isaiah Thomas has made a successful comeback after his career looked to be derailed due to injuries. It might not be exactly what fans wanted to see, but there is hope.
Josh Richardson continues to work his way back from a strained hamstring, so once again the Sixers will be playing without their entire starting lineup. That shouldn't hurt them too much against a struggling Wizards team, but sooner or later the entire lineup will need to build some chemistry that seems to be lacking at this point in the season.
Philadelphia: Josh Richardson (hamstring - out), Shake Milton (hip - questionable)
Washington: John Wall (achilles - out), Thomas Bryant (foot - out), C.J. Miles (wrist - out), Ian Mahimni (achilles - questionable), Moritz Wagner (ankle - questionable)