The Washington Wizards travel to face the lowly Philadelphia 76ers still chasing home court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs. In order to achieve that, Washington probably needs to win four of its last five games making tonight’s matchup in Philadelphia a crucial one.
Washington has won four of their five games taking advantage of some indifferent form from the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls to propel themselves back into the home court advantage discussions. The Wizards since one and two games back of those two teams respectively.
They’re playing terrific defensive basketball and are backing that up with a fast pace at the offensive end of the floor. John Wall is the key facilitator there, he’s averaging 14.8 assists over his last four games. There are still questions over whether Wall can ever be a clutch scorer in terms of hitting big shots, but there are no questions about his ability to initiate and run this Washington offensive effectively.
Head coach Randy Wittman has elected to rest Nene and Paul Pierce over the last three games and it’s conceivable that he’ll do that again here, though he also might feel some temptation to pursue a win here. He won’t want eithe player to start the postseason with any rust.
The Wizards have struggled on the road for most of the season posting a 16-21 record away from Verizon Center. However, they did secure one of their better road wins of the season Saturday’s action beating the Grizzlies in Memphis.
Philadelphia are on a six-game losing streak and they’ve lost eight of their last nine games. Add Isaiah Canaan to Joel Emblid and Tony Wrotten on the list of players done for the season. The results are not getting any better, in fact this young group even looked outmatched when challenged by the basement dwelling New York Knicks on Sunday losing that game by 10 points.
There’s plenty of exciting potential plying its trade for this franchise. Nerlens Noel has shown signs of maturing averaging 14.3 points and 11.2 rebounds in the month of March, while Robert Covington has proven that he can be an effective scorer. The re-build continues in Philly.
Betting Preview: Philadelphia (+7.5) vs. Washington
The 76ers are not a team to be under-estimated and it’s clear that oddsmakers are starting to steer clear of that possibility. However, they have a few injury concerns and the Wizards enter this game motivated, playing good basketball and with a clear objective in mind. They’ll cover the spread in this contest.
The Pick: Washington (-7.5) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 42-33