There's plenty of different ways to express how badly the Wizards have struggled lately, but perhaps the simplest way is to point to the Wizards' road record over the past few months. They've haven't beaten a team over .500 on the road since they beat the Bulls in Chicago on January 15.
The Wizards have a chance to fix some of their road woes, as they play five of their last six on the road. However, tonight is the Wizards' last chance to really claim a victory of note away from the Verizon Center. After tonight's game, the Wizards close their road schedule with trips to Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Indiana, and Cleveland, who will presumably rest their key players in the regular season finale, since they'll likely have nothing left to play for in the final game.
In other words, if the Wizards want to strike some fear in the league and show they're ready to give someone a run for their money in the playoffs, a win tonight would go a long way in making that statement.
Where and when: The Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies face off at the FedExForum tonight at 8 p.m. You can watch the game on CSN Washington or join the #radioparty on 99.1 WNEW.
Who's out? Garrett Temple is still out with that hamstring injury and did not travel with the team to Memphis. Paul Pierce is questionable after missing the last two games. Tony Allen is questionable for the Grizzlies after missing the last three games with a strained hamstring.
What's at stake? The Wizards closed within two games of the Raptors, thanks to Toronto's loss in Brooklyn on Friday night. Tonight, the Raptors are back at home against the Celtics, who should give Toronto a challenge as they try to hold on to the eighth seed. If the Raptors do fall at home and Washington picks up a win, the Wizards will be within a game of the Raptors with five games to go. The Bulls, who beat Detroit last night to maintain a three game lead over the Wizards and pull one game ahead of Toronto, are off tonight.
The Grizzlies will have plenty to play for tonight as well, since they're currently tied with Houston for second in the Western Conference standings. A win this evening would put them back in sole possession of second place, since the Rockets are idle tonight.
Do the Wizards have a chance tonight? Like the Wizards, the Grizzlies haven't been at their best over the past couple months. They're 13-10 since the All Star break, and all the team's core players have tailed off a bit, especially Zach Randolph, who went from averaging 13.3 rebounds per 36 before the All Star break to 8.5 rebounds per 36 since.
The Wizards are catching Memphis at a vulnerable time, but don't be surprised if the Grizzlies want to make a statement of their own after things got chippy the first time they played this season. Things should be easier for the Wizards than it would have been had they faced the Grizzlies in early December, but it's still going to be difficult for the Wizards to make the kind of statement they'll want to make tonight.