Matchup: Washington Wizards (26-30) at Philadelphia 76ers (8-49)
When: Friday, 7:00 p.m. (TV: CSN+, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra)
Season series: Washington leads 1-0. Three games remain in the series.
When we last met: The Wizards won 106-94 on Feb. 5
Three things to know:
East watch: Despite Wednesday's frustrating loss at Chicago, Washington is 3-2 since returning from the All-Star break. That's positive, but not enough to make a dent in it deficit when it comes to chasing a playoff spot. The Wizards remain three games back of the eighth and final playoff spot, now occupied by the Hornets. The gap for homecourt advantage in round one increased to five games in the loss column, though they are just four behind fifth. With 26 games left, none of this matters if the Wizards doesn't start stringing wins together.
We're not last: The winning consistency remains elusive, but the Wizards have shown improvement defending the 3-point line. Last in opponent 3-point shooting percentage for a chunk of the season, Washington (37.9%) now sits 31st, one slot ahead of the Phoenix Suns. Over the last seven games, foes are shooting 28.4% (39 of 137) from distance, the second-best mark in the league over that stretch. The players have admitted that better effort and not changes in scheme have led to improved defense overall. The wing presence of Alan Anderson should also help.
Here they go again: Just when it seems like the 76ers might, might, might be turning the corner, they lose 10 of 11 including six straight. Since returning from the All-Star break, the margin of defeats are 7, 22. 9 and 20. Detroit pummeled Philadelphia 111-91 Wednesday. In those games, opponents averaged 121.3 points.
"We had that good stretch before the All-Star break, and it earned us some respect," guard Ish Smith said, according to the Associated Press. "The problem is that we've lost what we had, so teams are taking us seriously and beating the crap out of us. That's what the Pistons did tonight."
MORE WIZARDS: Morning tip: No way Wizards could lose to Sixers? Wrong