Wizards vs. Sixers preview: Is this the first must-win game of the season?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The struggling Washington Wizards travel to Philadelphia for a rematch from last week with the 76ers. Here's what you need to know.

The winless Wizards travel to Philadelphia to face the MIGHTY SIXERS. This might be the Wizards' best chance to get a win before a difficult midwest road trip.

Where and when? Tip off is at 7 p.m. in Illadelphia.

Why should I care? Washington is 0-3 and the team's schedule is going to be very, very rough this month. There are a bunch of road games and the Philly game is the only one that should be considered an easy win. Washington needs to get their first W in order to get the monkey off their back, and that's probably not going to happen against the Thunder, Spurs or Nets. Another 0 and double digits start would probably mean the end of Randy Wittman's tenure in Washington.

Are they good? No. Contrary to popular opinion, this is still a team with no inside presence, a bunch of youngsters and veterans who are more likely than not on their way out of town. Michael Carter-Williams is special but we've seen a lot of guys with broken jumpers appear to magically find their stroke early in their NBA careers, only to come back to earth as the season progresses. It's called regression to the mean, folks. Brandon Jennings and Ricky Rubio both looked like elite three point shooters early in their careers too.

Who's out? Jason Richardson and KWAA-ME BROWN! will be out for the 76ers. The Wiz kids are definitely going to be without Otto Porter and Chris Singleton. Nene practiced on Tuesday and will be a game time decision.

What happened the last time they played? Washington played great in the first half, ran up a big lead, then decided they didn't need to play defense and lost their home opener to a team that was supposed to be the worst one in the league. I covered maybe half of the home games in person last season as well as a few preseason games, and this was hands-down the most tense, uncomfortable postgame vibe I'd ever witnessed. It wasn't a normal loss and these guys badly need to come out firing on all cylinders and demolish the 76ers.

What are they good at? Pushing the pace and getting to the line (so far). Philly is leading the league in pace factor and is third in terms of free throw attempts per field goal attempt. The pace thing makes a lot of sense. MCW and Evan Turner are both basically point guards, the bigs are young and they have no one who can consistently score in the half court so it's kind of a necessity that they run the ball. The high free throw rate, though, isn't going to last. None of their players are particularly physical and Turner in particular has gotten to the charity stripe far more than he has in the past. It would be almost unprecedented for a player like him to go from averaging a very low 2.6 free throw attempts per 36 minutes to his current rate of almost six.

What are they bad at? Almost anything involving big men. Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young are the only bigs of note on the team and neither is ideally suited to a starting role. Both can score and Hawes is probably a bit underrated, but neither is much of a defender or rebounder and should at least in theory be dominated by Nene (if he plays) and Gortat.

Which Iversons were the best? The ones he wore as a rookie may have looked the best, but I've got to go with the Reebok Answer 1s. Have they been reissued recently? Dude could probably use the money and there's got to be a market for them.

Who's going to win? I'm going with Washington tonight. They're the more talented team, they're desperate for a win and everyone on the team is going to be under a lot of scrutiny if things go south. I expect the Wizards to bring their A game tonight. If they don't? Well, the season will be very interesting, but not for the reasons we'd all hoped it would be.

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