The Washington Wizards are back at it on Wednesday night. Here’s a preview of tomorrow’s game!
When: Wednesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
How to watch: NBA TV
Wizards: Deni Avdija (Ankle, Out), Thomas Bryant (Knee, Out)
The Wizards are in nearby Philadelphia for Game 2 of the first round playoff series against the 76ers. Washington is coming off a close loss against the 76ers on a Sunday matinee on national television. This game will be relegated to NBA TV, but could decide heavily the fate of the series.
The Wizards have yet to beat the 76ers during the regular season or postseason
Washington lost to the 76ers four times in the last four games they played in the five months. I have not met anybody that thinks the Wizards will actually string together four wins in the next two weeks, but who knows, right? But at some point, there has to be the mental barrier of getting that first win. This game two is really the last chance to surpass this mental barrier, in my opinion.
Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook have to bring their A game
Brad and Russ each had six turnovers in game one with many of them coming in the crucial minutes deciding the game in the fourth quarter. If Washington wants to win a game against one of the best teams in the league, both of their leaders have to combine for no more than 7-8 turnovers. The bright spot is that they did combine for 8/8 from the line. But they where not hitting from deep - they combined for 1/8 from downtown.
Meanwhile, the "others" were very sharp going for 7/12 from deep: Bertans was 4/8 and Hachimura a perfect 2/2.
The blueprint of the first half of Game 1 is the one Washington should copy
In the first half of Game 1, the wizards transition offense was on full display, miserating the 76ers who are still one of the league's worst in transition defense. The Wizards won that half 62—61 in this should be part of their game plan for winning in Game 2. Run, run, run. Fatigue Embiid and Howard and force Ben Simmons to a halfcourt game on the other end.
Stop Joel Embiid with less fouls
Embiid is one of the league leaders in free-throw attempts and in makes. He is an excellent free-throw shooter. Gafford, Lopez, and Len combined for 12 personal fouls, affording Embiid with 13 free throws (of which he made 12). And, this of course led to more Philadelphia players getting to the line as Washington was frequently over the limit. The Wizards have to find a way of defending with less fouls if they want to have a chance. Overall, Philadelphia got to the line 33 times, while the Wizards only 15.
Gafford and Ish should play more
Ish Smith was relentless pushing, finished the game +9 and, importantly, had zero turnovers. Meanwhile, Gafford finished the game +14 and was perfect from the field for 12 points. Perhaps it is worth trying that duo on the floor for longer minutes and not scorch Beal/Russ for 41/43 minutes in the usual Scotty Brooks fashion. After all, it is hard to blame anyone but Brooks for the many turnovers his star duo had - he overplayed them which is quite un-astonishing as we have seen him do this over and over again these past years, grinding Beal, Wall, and now Westbrook.