National Basketball Association
76ers-Wizards Preview
National Basketball Association

76ers-Wizards Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 1:09 a.m. ET

It's obvious where to begin when looking at the Washington Wizards' turnaround since the All-Star break.

''It starts with John (Wall), there's no question,'' coach Randy Wittman said. ''He's been locked in here, more recently.''

Wall's stellar play has the Wizards trending in the right direction, and he can continue working them back into the postseason discussion when the woeful Philadelphia 76ers visit on Monday night.

Washington (28-30) is still on the outside looking in on the playoffs - it's two games out of the Eastern Conference's eighth spot - but a 5-2 spurt out of the break has it in position to make a run in the season's final five weeks.


Wall's scoring hasn't been as dynamic as certain stretches this season, but he is averaging 10.5 assists while leading the Wizards to three wins in the last four games. The point guard finished with 21 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds while sitting out the fourth quarter of Sunday's 113-99 win over East-leading Cleveland.

Washington led by as many as 30 points, taking advantage of a resting LeBron James, and Wall got others involved in a win suited to the Wizards' ideal small-ball style. Otto Porter had averaged 6.0 points while shooting 38.5 percent the previous four games, but he finished 6 of 9 from the field for 21 against the Cavaliers while Bradley Beal added 17.

The Wizards have held six of their last eight opponents to fewer than 100 points.

"We're doing what we're supposed to do," said Wall, who posted his 34th double-double midway through the third quarter. "The pressure's on us. We've just got to go out there and compete."

Judging by the first two games against the 76ers, Wall's numbers might keep climbing in the second meeting in four days.

The All-Star had a triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 106-94 win over the 76ers on Feb. 5 in Washington - that started the Wizards' current five-game home win streak - and he just missed another with 23 points, 11 assists and eight boards in Friday's 103-94 victory at Philadelphia.

Wall carries in a streak of six straight double-digit assist games against the 76ers and will try to lead Washington to its fifth consecutive win both overall in this series and at home.

Philadelphia (8-51) remained within 11 points the entire way in its latest loss to the Wizards but followed with Sunday's 130-116 defeat at Orlando. The 76ers never led and trailed by as many as 29 points in their eighth straight loss - their seventh losing streak of that many games over the last three seasons.

The streak started with a 98-92 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 8, but Philadelphia has surrendered a league-worst average of 118.9 points in the seven games that followed.

The 76ers, the league's lowest-scoring team at 96.2 points per game, scored a season high while shooting 53.2 percent on Sunday, but the Magic matched a season-high point total for a Philadelphia opponent by shooting 57 percent. Philadelphia has lost six straight on the road and is 3-28 away from home.

Orlando scored 77 points in the first half, the third most in any half in the NBA this season.

''No team should be able to score 77 points in a half, especially a team we think we can beat,'' small forward Jerami Grant said.


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