The Washington Wizards have slipped to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference and virtually every single game left in the season could be viewed as a ‘must win’, including their match up against the struggling Orlando Magic tonight. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Amway Center.
Key Match Up:
Bradley Beal has had an up-and-down sophomore season and he’s coming off a bad shooting game against the Charlotte Bobcats. With that said, he’s been playing better as of late and he’ll have a chance to bounce back against a below average defensive team (17th in defensive rating). Beal’s shot selection has been questionable all season long, but he’s finally starting to diversify his game instead of constantly settling for long two point shots. We’ve seen Beal take over games, just as he did against the New York Knicks last week, hitting shots from three, taking it to the basket and scoring off the dribble.
Like Beal, Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo has had an issue with consistency, but he’ll still likely remain one of the top candidates for the Rookie of the Year award. Oladipo has averaged 18 points and over 4 assists in his first three meetings against Beal and the Wizards, so he’s definitely given them some fits. His explosiveness and relentless style of play has definitely brought some excitement in Orlando and for a team that has nothing to lose, they could certainly play the spoilers to Washington.
- The Magic have won two straight games over the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves. Needless to say, they’ve embraced the spoiler role against other teams now that the season is coming to an end.
- Nikola Vucevic, who’s averaging over 14 points and 11 rebounds per contest this season, will be out with a sore achilles.
- Orlando has the fourth worst offensive rating in the NBA.
Washington can’t afford to lose to lottery bound teams like the Magic and losing tonight could probably guarantee them a series against the 2nd seed in the conference.
John Wall struggled with his shot against Charlotte, often times passing up open layups at the basket to kick the ball out to his teammates out on the perimeter, who also struggled to make shots. Trevor Ariza finished the game with 0 points, while Bradley Beal scored just 8. When his teammates are struggling, Wall has to pick up his aggressiveness. I’m sure Ariza and Beal won’t have a repeat performance, but Wall has to look for his shot more often, especially against mediocre defensive teams. Jameer Nelson can’t stay in front of Wall, and given his size, Wall should be able to overwhelm him. He has to take advantage of the match up.
I think the Wizards will get the victory tonight, especially since it seems like they know what’s at stake.