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Wizards, 76ers deflect importance of matchups before Friday's game

For the Wizards and Sixers, Friday's game is all about not getting bogged down with matchups.

Rob Carr

WASHINGTON -- For all the talk of how different teams size up, the coaches of the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers spent their respective pre-game interviews focusing specifically on their own styles. For a pair of young teams in different places on the success spectrum, it was interesting to see the same theme carry over.

"Like I always tell our guys, let's worry about us, let's worry about what we have to do," coach Randy Wittman said when asked how John Wall might match up against Sixers rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams. "And when we do that, that's when we are at our best. When we get caught up in what's going on on the other side, you're right, it bogs us down a little bit."

Entering the game, we know these Wizards have battled inconsistency in the past. Last year felt split between the with-Wall and without-Wall eras, while wins against good teams seemingly came as easy as sloppy losses to bad ones. Understandably, Wittman hopes to avoid that kind of erratic effort starting Friday night.

Meanwhile, for the Sixers, there isn't quite the same sense of urgency that looms over Washington, but the team similarly hopes for stability.

"You look at the Miami game the other night, it really wasn't a post game. Like when you talk about post defense, each team, you're gonna have to find that balance of focusing on yourself -- like you just said -- and educating our young players," coach Brett Brown said when asked about focusing on the team's style.

Wittman doesn't have to teach as young and inexperienced a roster as Brown, but the shared attitude reflects how both teams still view things as a work-in-progress. So while everyone will surely be talking about Wall and Carter-Williams after the game, you can expect Wittman to focus on how his team reacts to everything else.

"Again, it's not so much who we have to really be concerned of than planting our feet right from the beginning, getting ourselves established defensively, and controlling the pace of the game. We can't let them control the pace of the game."

Here's a couple more minor tidbits from the pre-game interviews:

  • Wittman on whether the team looked at Carter-Williams before the draft: "You know, we didn't really, I mean, where we were at. You know, so, we didn't really focus on that spot very much. But very talented kid, obviously he proved it at Syracuse. He's got good size, good anticipation, I think he's got a good knowledge of the game. When you have those combinations, that's pretty good."
  • Brown wants the Sixers to focus on closing out three-point shooters: "We're trying to keep it simple and get back and keep the game in front of us. And then you're going to have to deal with Beal and Webster and Ariza, and you're have to be desperate to get to those shooters. You have to be frantic to start recognizing what's around you ... I think guarding the three-point line is gonna be an area that we have to keep working on."