Bucks-Wizards Preview

The Washington Wizards can take another step toward avoiding Miami and Indiana in the first round of the playoffs by beating the Milwaukee Bucks.

Then again, if they can’t beat the Bucks at home Saturday night to take three of four in the season series, it might not matter who they play in the first round.

The Wizards (41-38) won 96-86 Friday in Orlando to assure themselves their first non-losing season since going 43-39 in 2007-08, and also snapped a two-game skid.

Washington leads Charlotte by one game for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference but knows nothing has been decided.

"It’s not like we’re at home celebrating the sixth spot," Wizards center Marcin Gortat told the team’s official website. "We’ve still got a few games to play."

The greater concern at the moment might be figuring out their perimeter shooting.

Nene scored 17 points to lead Washington, which connected on just 2 of 19 from 3-point range and shot 42.7 percent overall.

It was the Wizard’s second worst 3-point effort of the season, and it wasn’t an isolated incident. Their worst long-range effort of the season came two in Wednesday night’s home loss to Charlotte (1 of 15), and they’ve gone 6 for 50 in the last three games, averaging 87.3 points in that time.

A strong defensive effort was enough as they held the Magic to 41.6 percent and 4 of 19 from long range. That too has been a trend as the Wizards have held opponents to 41.1 percent shooting in winning five of their last eight.

"It’s great to win a game like this," guard Bradley Beal said. "I don’t think anybody shot the ball well. I think we shot like 10 percent from the 3-point line so it was definitely a great defensive effort by us. They got up early again on us, but I think we did a great job of sticking with it defensively and that’s what won the game."

The Bucks (15-64) typically don’t pose the league’s greatest offensive threat, averaging a conference-low 95.4 points, but they did snap a six-game losing streak with a 119-116 home win over Cleveland on Friday.

"We just stepped up our effort," guard Brandon Knight told the team’s official website. "They got out and got a lot of easy baskets. Tristan (Thompson) was running the floor hard – their bigs were running the floor hard – so we just got out and put more effort into the game."

Knight scored 24 points to lead a 52.4 percent shooting effort while backcourt mate Ramon Sessions added 20 and is averaging 19.0 points in nine straight starts.

The Wizards have won two of three against the Bucks this season but fell 109-105 in overtime on Dec. 6 in the only game in Washington. They rebounded with a 114-107 victory in Milwaukee on March 8.

Wizards forward Trevor Ariza led all scorers with 28 points while Beal added 23. The two combined to go 10 for 15 from 3-point range.

Ariza is averaging 21.3 points in three games against the Bucks this season while John Wall has been limited to 36.4 percent shooting.