The Washington Wizards were doing so well. The team beat expectations on a West Coast trip, then came home and treated their fans to back-to-back blow out victories, the second of which was against a good Chicago Bulls team. Then they turn around and drop a homegame to the Sacramento Kings. Like 'Dray used to say: "C'mon, son!"
So which Washington team is the real one? The simultaneously bruising and up-tempo Wizards that steam-rolled the Bulls and 'Wolves, or the ineffective, offensively-challenged one that had no answer for Isaiah Thomas? We'll find out tonight when the Wizards square off against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Where and When? Tip off is in Philly at 7 p.m.
Who's Out? Washington will be without Cartier Martin, while Bradley Beal is a game-time decision with his wrist issue. Philadelphia is missing Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, while LaVoy Allen is a game-time decision after getting stitches on Monday.
Are They Good? Nope, not at all. Philadelphia comes into tonight's game with an 18-26 record and the point differential of a 16-28 team.
Why Should I Care? After two strong back-to-back wins, Washington laid an egg against the lowly Kings at home. This game could tell us whether Washington just got lucky or if the team's improvements are for real.
What Are They Good At? The 76ers aren't good at much, but one thing they do well is take care of the ball. Philadelphia ranks third in the NBA in turnover percentage, largely on the strength of the steady ball-handling of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, as well as Thaddeus Young's knack for scoring without having to dribble.
Philadelphia also has two long, mobile defenders in the backcourt in Holiday and Turner, something that could hurt John Wall's performance. Holiday in particular always seems to do a good job of guarding Wall. Both Holiday and Turner also have the length to really bother Beal and Crawford's shots.
What Are They Bad At? The 76ers have almost no traditional interior scoring whatsoever, one of the main reasons the team has such a poor record. In a related story, the team acquired a bunch of players this summer who are decent offensive players when paired with a star like Andrew Bynum but are almost incapable of generating efficient offense on their own. Sound familiar?
Why is Philadelphia so much worse this year? A better question would be "Exactly how underrated were Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala?" Iguodala's skillset overlaps quite a bit with Turner and even to an extent Holiday's, while the 32-year-old and overpaid Brand was likely considered too old to be able to contribute to the next great 76ers team. But while the organization's personnel moves make sense in the long-term, they also hurt the club in the short-term. Brand was an excellent pick and pop weapon who meshed perfectly with the 76ers' young ball handlers, and he also managed to turn himself into one of the best defensive big men in the NBA. Meanwhile, no one on the 76ers has been able to approach Igoudala's ferocious (and intelligent) perimeter defense.
How do you think tonight's game is going to play out? Vote in our poll and sound off in the comments!