Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Wizards
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

What to watch for in Washington Wizards vs Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers are hoping to get on a roll and improve their standings in the Eastern Conference, as this next stretch of games could all easily be chalked up as wins for the Sixers. Over their next seven games, the 76ers will not face a team with a better win/loss record than them. That stretch ends on January 31st, as the 76ers will face the rolling Memphis Grizzlies. Philadelphia hasn’t just been getting lucky in their recent winning streak though, they’re play has been improving. Specifically, their defense. The 76ers defense, which was middling to start the season, has now improved to 10th best in the league.

Sixers star Joel Embiid hasn’t seemed to struggle without the presence of Ben Simmons either. Over the last 10 games, Embiid has averaged 31.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 55.5 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from 3-point range.

Washington, on the other hand, has been trending downwards. A top-10 defense has since sunk to 22nd in the league, and the Wizards seem to be hit-or-miss without their top gun in Beal, and a lot more of those are quickly turning into misses.

There are some bright spots for Washington, however. Kyle Kuzma, who seemed to not quite find his footing for a lot of this season, has been on a role lately, averaging 24.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while shooting 52.7 percent from the field over his last 10 games.

The Wizards will also be looking for a big night from Corey Kispert and Spencer Dinwiddie, both of whom have been arguably a step behind this season. Kispert was drafted with the 15th overall pick this year, and although he has been the best replacement in the starting lineup for Beal, he still looks like he’s adjusting to the NBA’s game. Dinwiddie comes to Washington via a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, and has seemed to struggle in his return season from an ACL injury that sidelined him last season. Although both of these players have seen their peaks and valleys, they do both seem to be trending upwards. In their last three games, Kispert has averaged 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game while Dinwiddie has averaged 22.0 points, 7.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game.

Another bright spot for the Wizards will be the return of Davis Bertans, who has been sidelined for this last stretch of games with a foot injury. Washington will be looking to Bertans to likely play a smaller role in his return, probably only seeing a handful of minutes in an already packed Washington frontcourt.

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After this afternoon’s game, the Philadelphia 76ers will go home to begin a two-game home stand beginning with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. The Washington Wizards will play their fifth of eight straight at home on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.