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Wizards vs. 76ers preview: Washington hosts pivotal game for playoff positioning against Philadelphia

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Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Game Info

When: Sunday, February 25 at 8 p.m.
Where: Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
TV: ESPN, NBC Sports Washington
Win probability: Washington has a 60 percent chance of winning according to Kevin Broom’s Win Predictor and a 67 percent chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight.

Injury Report

Wizards: John Wall (Out, Knee)

76ers: Justin Anderson (Questionable, Ankle), Demetrius Jackson (Questionable, Groin) Markelle Fultz (Out, Shoulder), Furkan Korkmaz (Out, Foot)

What to Watch for

Can Washington rise to the occasion?

This is the biggest game of the season to date for the Wizards. FiveThirtyEight currently projects the Wizards will finish 46-36 and the 76ers will finish 47-35, and that’s even with Washington projected to win this game. Washington has the lead on the 76ers in the standings right now, but the Wizards have one of the most difficult schedules remaining and 76ers have one of the easiest.

This game could be the difference in who hosts the first game of their playoff series against one another. If Philadelphia can win this game they’re not expected to win, that would push them to a 48-win trajectory and push the Wizards toward a 45-win pace. Plus, Philadelphia would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to winning three out of the four games they played against one another.

If Washington wins, they have a better chance of keeping pace with Philadelphia and they’ll split their season series. The next tiebreaker would be each team’s record within the conference. Washington is currently 21-15 against the East, while Philadelphia is 18-13. If Washington can win this one and steal a game or two they shouldn’t down the stretch, they put themselves in a much better position to start the playoffs at home.

A random moment in Wizards - 76ers history: The time Larry Hughes outdueled Allen Iverson

The 2003-04 season was a largely forgettable campaign for Washington. The team had just come out of the Michael Jordan era and the Gilbert Arenas era had gotten off to a slow start as he battled injuries and struggled to mesh with Jerry Stackhouse. Washington lost 25 of their first 34 games and heading into their January 10 game against the 76ers, they were missing both Arenas and Stackhouse.

The Wizards had to hand over the offensive reins to Larry Hughes, who the 76ers took with the eighth overall pick in the 1998 draft, only to trade less than two seasons into his career after a disappointing start. Hughes started to show some promise after signing as a free agent in Washington, but really broke out in January 2014. He averaged 20.4 points per game and delivered a signature performance against his old team, going off for 43 points and grabbing five steals to help Washington pull off the upset.

Hughes big month set the stage for Washington’s breakout in 2004-05 season, when he and a healthy Arenas formed one of the most potent backcourts in the league and guided Washington to their first playoff series win in over a decade.