Indiana Pacers vs Washington Wizards: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/17/18
The Indiana Pacers may need Al Jefferson to roll back the years and provide a strong presence at center Saturday night when they face the Washington Wizards.
The Pacers (40-29) took a flier on the 33-year-old Jefferson before last season as a free agent after he left the Charlotte Hornets. He has played sporadically this season, appearing in less than half of Indiana’s games and averaging 7.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in 31 contests.
Jefferson was pressed into duty in Indiana’s 101-98 win at Philadelphia on Tuesday night when Domantas Sabonis sprained his ankle, playing six minutes and missing all three of his shots while committing two fouls. The situation, though, got more dire Thursday night versus Toronto when Myles Turner also sprained his ankle in the first half.
This time, Jefferson turned back the clock with 20 points and 12 rebounds in just over 25 minutes as the Pacers came up short in a 106-99 loss to the Eastern Conference leaders. Darren Collison had 22 off the bench and Victor Oladipo added 19 for Indiana, who are third in the Eastern Conference and lead the Central Division by one-half game over Cleveland.
The Wizards (39-30) are one-half game back of the Cavaliers as they try to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since a five-year run from 1971 to 75. Washington avoided a third straight loss with a gritty 125-124 double-overtime win at Boston on Thursday night.
Bradley Beal had 34 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as the Wizards rallied from a 20-point, first-half deficit. Otto Porter added 18 points and 11 rebounds while reserve center Ian Mahinmi had 14 and 11 as Washington kicks off a stretch in which they play five of their next seven at home where they have dropped six of their last eight.