John who? The Washington Wizards (31-22) have now racked up a season-high five-game winning streak, one which began once their All-Star point guard went out. They took care of the Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers, 111-102, last night. Bradley Beal, who has been so impressive in Wall’s absence, once again led the way with 21 points in 36 minutes. Meanwhile, the bench came up huge with 50 points, 15 of which coming from Kelly Oubre Jr. The Wizards shot a blistering 55 percent from the floor, the fourth time during their five-game win streak that they’ve topped 50 percent shooting.
The Wizards will look to keep up that hot shooting against the Philadelphia 76ers (25-25), who have now dropped four of their last five games following a 100-92 road defeat to the Indiana Pacers. Joel Embiid had a strong game with 24 points and ten rebounds as he played the very first back-to-back of his NBA career. However, he did commit 18 turnovers. Meanwhile, his teammates struggled mightily from the field as they finished with a mere 38 percent shooting.
Three keys to the game
Home-court advantage - The Sixers have had a disastrous last couple of weeks on the road. All four of their losses during their poor five-game stretch have come away from the Wells Fargo Center, with their lone win against the Miami Heat coming at home. The Sixers have won six of their last seven home games, and will now face a Wizards team which has generally struggled on the road (14-13) and is on the second night of a back-to-back.
Wizards offense vs Sixers defense - The Wizards offense has been firing on all cylinders even with Wall out of the lineup. Bradley Beal has done a fine job taking on more of a playmaking responsibility over the last few games. However, it will be interesting to see how they react to a swarming, well-rested Sixers defense that’s top five in the league on the second night of a back-to-back. It’s safe to say that won’t be easy.
Wizards bench - The Wizards have gotten strong production off their bench recently, particularly with Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre. Scott’s averaging 13 points in just 20 minutes per game over his last five. Meanwhile, Oubre has had fairly good success against the Sixers this season, averaging 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals in his first two meetings against them.
Matchup to watch
Markieff Morris vs Dario Saric - Morris has been an unsung hero for the Wizards during their impressive win streak. He’s been averaging 16.6 points and 6.2 rebounds during that span, offering a reliable offensive option aside from Beal. But the team will also need his defense against the Sixers’ Dario Saric, who is putting up similar numbers and has been one of the team’s more consistent offensive threats.
Wizards projected starting lineup
PG - Tomas Satoransky | SG - Bradley Beal | SF - Otto Porter Jr. | PF - Markieff Morris | C - Marcin Gortat
76ers projected starting lineup
PG - Ben Simmons | SG - J. J. Redick | SF - Robert Covington | PF - Dario Saric | C - Joel Embiid
Beal will likely be a popular pick in fantasy given his impressive play of late coupled with the Sixers’ struggles against opposing shooting guards. But Morris and Oubre, as previously mentioned, have some strong numbers as well and would be pretty cheap options who could provide a lot of value.
As for the Sixers, Ben Simmons will be an intriguing pick. He’s cooled off a bit since his blistering start to the season, but it should still be noted just how well he’s played against the Wizards. In two games against them, Simmons has put up 24.5 points, 14 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks.
Despite the Wizards streaking and the Sixers slumping, it's actually Philadelphia who are favored by 6.5 points. Oddsmakers likely made the spread what it is with Washington on the second night of a back-to-back. They also don't see the Wizards' incredible shooting holding up much longer. I'm inclined to agree, so let's take the Sixers to win and cover the 6.5-point spread at home.
The Sixers finally snap the Wizards' winning streak as they run out 115-106 winners at home.
This game will be broadcast nationally on TNT. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.