Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets (-3.5, 199.5 o/u)
The Washington Wizards (45-33, 17-21 away) are getting hot at the right time. Currently on a four-game win streak, the team is fifth in the East but looking to move up before the season ends and gain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Tonight, they visit the Brooklyn Nets (36-42, 17-21 home), who are in a fight for their playoff lives.
Though Washington still has a lot to play for, Wizards head coach Randy Wittman made the difficult call to rest star point guard John Wall on Wednesday against the lowly 76ers. It turned out to be the right move as Washington dominated Philly 119-90, shooting a franchise-record 65.3-percent from the floor.
Seven Wizards scored in double figures, including Bradley Beal (21 points), Ramon Sessions (19 points), and Marcin Gortat (18 points).
“I thought our guys were tremendous,” Wittman said. “We shot lights out. But we got some really good looks because of our ball movement.”
Added Beal, “This shows how deep we are as a team … We definitely want our guys healthy come playoff time, and sharp as well. I think we’re doing a great job of that.”
The win moved the Wizards within a game of the fourth-place Raptors and 1.5-back of the third-place Bulls.
The Brooklyn Nets (36-42, 17-21 home), meanwhile, are currently in the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Nets are tied with the seventh-place Celtics in terms of record, but Boston holds the tie-breaker. The Pacers (one game back) and Heat (1.5-games back) are both hot on their tail for the last post-season berth.
Brooklyn couldn’t help its own cause on Wednesday, dropping a 114-111 decision to Atlanta.
Despite the setback, the Nets were happy with the way they battled the East-leading Hawks and believe they’re a playoff-caliber team.
“We’re still a confident group,” said Joe Johnson.
Added Jarrett Jack, “They came out, hit us in the mouth early, but we just stayed with it. We fought, we clawed and that’s just the resilience that we have if we want to make it to that goal that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season.”
The loss was the second in three games for the Nets, who had won six straight prior.
Brooklyn is picking up its play, overall, late in the season. But tonight, look for the Wizards – with Wall back in the lineup – to get fine tuned for a playoff run. The play here is Washington and the points (+3.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (originally posted to Flickr as John Wall) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)