The Wizards head to Indianapolis on Thursday night looking to continue their hot streak against the Pacers in their final game prior to the All-Star break. The Wizards have won two of their three meetings with Indiana this season. If they can win this one, they will clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pacers should they be tied at the end of the regular season.
After a very hot start to the New Year, the Pacers have struggled in recent games, including a 112-107 loss to the Wizards at the Verizon Center last Friday. Like the Wizards, the Pacers are also a much better team at home where they boast a 20-9 record.
The Wizards have a prime opportunity to pounce on a team in the midst of a mini free-fall and finish the pre-All-Star Break stretch off strong.
When: Thursday, February 16th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App
Pacers: Lavoy Allen (Game Time Decision, Knee), Thaddeus Young (Out, Wrist)
What to watch for
Will the Wizards show up?
Before you come at me with pitchforks, let me explain. The Wizards hit the road for a quick road game prior to an 8-day break. Outside of Wall, who’ll be participating in the All-Star activities (and possibly Beal), the rest of these guys likely have vacations booked in the Bahamas or some other exotic location. So are they looking forward to some time in the sun or can they stay focused for one last game? I’m not saying they are going to get blown out, however, I have the same gut feeling about this game that I did prior to the Brooklyn game last week, where they needed overtime to take down the worst team in the NBA.
Or maybe I’m dead wrong and have no business second-guessing this team? We’ll find out.
Who’ll win the battle of the turnovers?
Washington comes in forcing 15.6 turnovers per game, the best mark in the league. Indiana isn’t far behind, forcing 15.3 per game, the 5th best average in the NBA. Both teams are very good at turning over the opposition so it’ll be interesting to see which team can take advantage. The team who forces more turnovers and creates extra offensive possessions could very well be the difference in who wins this game.
Can the Wizards get off to another hot start?
Once again, this isn’t exactly breaking news, but it’s clear that the Wizards play much better when they get off to a hot start. Although it’ll be tough to match the 9-9 start from the field against Oklahoma City, if the Wizards can jump out to an early lead, that usually leads to good things for this team.
Former Wizards’ coach Doug Collins said it best, the team that wins the first five minutes of the game and first five minutes of the second half is usually the team that wins the ballgame. Based on Washington’s recent performances, Collins is definitely on to something.
Most Likely Wizards Killer: C.J. Miles
It seems like Miles always has a big game when he goes up against Washington. Miles is shooting a career-best 41.8 percent from three-point range so far this season. Someone better get a hand in his face before he can get going.