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Wizards vs. Pacers preview: Struggling teams collide in Washington

The Wizards look to snap their losing streak against the Indiana Pacers who have cooled off quite a bit since their hot streak in the beginning of February.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards played some seriously uninspired basketball on the road this past week. We can excuse the 'closer than the final score suggests' loss to the Clippers, but the losses to Sacramento and Golden State were just embarrassing. Both games featured abysmal third quarters that put the game out of reach. Luckily, the Wizards are about to begin a 5-game home stand against mostly beatable opponents. With a 25-10 record and a 5-game winning streak at the Phone Booth, this home stand might be just what the doctor ordered to launch Washington into that coveted 3-seed.

On the other end of the court awaits the Indiana Pacers, who should be in panic mode at this point. Between February 4th and March 12th they went 12-2, rocketing up into playoff contention and looking like a surprise contender for the ECF with the return of Paul George looming.  Since then, the Pacers have lost 6 in a row and have fallen back down into the 10th seed. The Pacers will be desperate for a win and the Wizards need to be prepared for that.

When and Where?

Tip will be at 7:00 PM at the Verizon Center. No national TV coverage so watch on CSN Washington or join the 99.1 WNEW radio party.

Who's Out?

Garrett Temple was not on the Wizards road trip this past week so it is unclear whether or not he will be ready for action tonight. Kris Humphries will once again not be active for tonight's game. Get well soon Kris! For the Pacers: Rodney Stuckey has been ruled out for tonight's game, which hurts them more than most people realize. Paul George will be back soon, but not against Washington as he has expressed the desire to return for a home game. Be very afraid Eastern Conference:

At today's practice, the media was allowed to watch @ygtrece participate in 4-on-4 drills.

A video posted by Indiana Pacers (@pacers) on

The Stakes?

As I've already stated, the Pacers will be hungry for a win tonight. They are only one game back on the Celtics for the 8th seed, yet only a half game ahead of Brooklyn in the 9th seed. I'm a firm believer that if they can just squeak into the playoffs with Paul George they will make either Cleveland or Atlanta's first round much tougher than they bargained for. The trick is getting there.

With only 11 games remaining in the season, it's very important the Wizards leapfrog the Bulls and Raptors to steal the 3-seed in the East. A 3-seed would likely give us a first-round match-up against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are very beatable in a 7-game series. The 4 or 5 seed would have us facing either the Bulls or Raptors. The Raptors have beaten us all three times this season, while the Bulls have split the series with us but won our most recent game against each other. With the Bulls only having a 2.5 game lead on us for 3rd, it's very reasonable to see the Wizards pulling this off.

Playoffs start today fellas, leggo.