Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards: Lineups, preview & prediction 2/25/18

The Wizards and the 76ers are wedged in a logjam of teams jostling for playoff positions in the east, and will fight it out for an important victory in Washington on Sund

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The Wizards suffered a disappointing loss at home on Friday, going down 105-122 to the Hornets. Bradley Beal had 33 points and six assists, but there were too few contributors and a lack of intensity at the defensive end of the floor.

Washington remain towards the top of a cluster of teams between third and seventh in the Eastern Conference standings. Their record of 34-25 has them in a tie for fourth place with Indiana.

The 76ers sit at the bottom of this same collection of teams, with their record of 32-25 enough to have them in seventh place. 

Yesterday, they cruised to a 116-105 victory against Orlando on the back of a 58-40 first half. Joel Embiid was the most influential player on the floor, putting up 28 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Three keys to the game

Can Philadelphia turn around their back-to-back form? – The 76ers have really struggled on the second leg of back-to-backs this season. Out of eight such games, they have won just two, and these were against the lowly Suns and the Clippers. Amidst the losses are a 34 point drubbing at the hands of Toronto and a loss to Sacramento.

Taking care of the basketball – This will be vital for a Philadelphia team which coughs the ball up with more regularity than any other side in the league. 17% of their offensive possessions result in turnovers, almost 1.5% higher than the next worst team. Washington have been relatively good at creating scores from turnovers this season – their 17.3 points per game in this way is eighth in the league.

Offensive rebounds – With a declining Gortat at center, Washington don’t have a powerful rebounding presence, and this has resulted in a league-high 13.8 opposition second-chance point per game. Philadelphia are the best rebounding team in the league and score more second-chance points than all but five teams. 

Matchup to watch

Joel Embiid vs Marcin Gortat – This might be the matchup which decides the game. Embiid is young, powerful, and talented, and he will hope to dominate on the inside against the 34-year-old Gortat.

Gortat is averaging just 8.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this year, both of which are his lowest numbers since the 2009-2010 season. He appears to be well past his best, and Embiid will look to capitalize on this.

Embiid is fresh off an impressive debut in the All-Star game, and for the year is averaging 23.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.9 blocks.

Washington Wizards predicted starting lineup

PG – Tomas Satoransky | SG – Bradley Beal | SF – Otto Porter Jr | PF – Markieff Morris | C – Marcin Gortat

Philadelphia 76ers predicted starting lineup

PG – Ben Simmons | SG – JJ Redick | SF – Robert Covington | PF – Dario Saric | C – Joel Embiid

Fantasy tip

In the second meeting of the season between these two sides, the Wizards opted to play hack-a-Simmons for an extended period, resulting in a big statistical game for the young Australian. Simmons had 31 points, went 15-29 at the line, and also contributed a huge 18 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Over the course of the three games these teams have contested so far this season, he averages 21.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. Not bad numbers for a 20-year-old in his debut season.

Betting tip

This is expected to be a close one. Oddsmakers have given the 76ers just a 1.5 point head start, and Washington should cover this. They are at home and Philadelphia are playing their second game in two nights, which will enable the Wizards to run out victorious and cover this line.

Prediction

This will be a close game, but Washington will just be able to sneak over the line at home. Though Philadelphia should be relatively fresh coming off the All-Star break, they have proven an inability to perform on the second leg of back-to-backs this season.

Even in the absence of John Wall, the Wizards are a good team, and Beal and Satoransky have proven to be a relatively dangerous backcourt. They will combine for 12+ assists, and Beal will add 25+ points as they run out 109-105 victors.

TV info

The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Tip-off is at 8pm ET.

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