After an impressive victory over the Bulls, the Sixers will have little time to rest as they look to take on the Washington Wizards at 8 PM.
The biggest news in this matchup is the status of Joel Embiid, as the big man will be returning from his quarantine period. Along with Ben Simmons, Embiid was ruled out for the all-star game due to contact tracing related to a positive COVID test of the barber the pair went to before heading to Atlanta for the all-star game.
While it was disappointing that Simmons and Embiid were unable to play in the all-star game, both have continually tested negative for COVID and felt completely healthy. Doc Rivers spoke on Embiid and Simmons’ availability in his pregame media availability yesterday and indicated that the team is expecting Embiid to return to action tonight.
The Wizards had a brutal start to the season, losing 17 of their first 23 games. Since then, the Wiz have rebounded some and went into the all-star break with a record of 14-21. This puts the Wizards at 12th in the East, sitting 2 games out of the 8th seed. Despite their slow start, the Wizards are a team to watch and they may sneak back into the playoff race in the second half of the season.
Bradley Beal is the first name to watch out for as he leads all of the NBA in scoring with 32.5 points per game. It has been a one-man show for the Wizards at times this season as Beal is tied with Luka Doncic for the highest usage rate in the league at 34.7% (excluding players who have only played one game). In the Sixers’ first matchup against the Wizards this season, Beal dropped an astounding 60 points on 7 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc.
There is a chance Beal is unable to go tonight as he is listed as questionable with knee soreness.
The other half of the Wiz backcourt is made up of Russell Westbrook. The partnership has not been perfect, but Westbrook has settled in averaging 20.3 points, 9.8 assists, and 9.6 rebounds per game on the season.
Outside of this duo, the Sixers also must watch out for Rui Hachimura. The second-year player out of Gonzaga is averaging 12.4 points per game and is a firm part of the Wizards’ future plan.
There also must a firm eye on Wizard’s sniper, Davis Bertans. He scored seventeen points on four three-pointers in the matchup with the Sixers matchup in January.
Look for the Sixers to ride the momentum that was built last night, which was led by several great performances from typical bench players.
Matisse Thybulle was referred to as a “three-point shooting extraordinaire,” by Dwight Howard after his 3/3 performance from beyond the arc and 13 points overall.
Dwight himself added 18 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes of play. In total, the bench added 55 points and Tony Bradley also was impressive.
Getting Joel Embiid back will be a complete game-changer for the Sixers as the MVP candidate is right on Bradley Beal’s heels for the scoring title, averaging 30.2 points per game of his own.
Previous Matchups and Tonight’s Outlook
The Sixers and Wizards have matched up twice already this season with the Sixers adding two notches in the win column in each of these. The Sixers are 4.5 point favorites tonight and won the first two games by a margin of 5 and 6 points respectively.
While this will be a tougher game than many think, the Sixers have a great opportunity to pick up momentum with back-to-back wins.
The Sixers continue to hold their first-place lead in the East with a record of 25-12 and standing a half-game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets. If the Sixers are able to secure a victory and Embiid is able to continue his MVP campaign, it will be a major statement that their first-half success was no fluke.
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