Quick Links

Wizards know wins against East foes like Indiana are extra important

Wizards know wins against East foes like Indiana are extra important

There are are two months until the playoffs begin and 29 games left for the Wizards to play before their regular season schedule runs out. A lot can happen between now and then, both good and bad. To assume they will earn a playoff spot is premature at this point, as easy as the postseason is for fans, media and players alike to dream about.

But there are also games over the course of a season that matter more than most, ones that invoke the big picture, no matter how they are described in the language of coach-speak. And Friday night was one of those games for the Wizards, a showdown with Indiana Pacers, the sixth-ranked team in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards currently sit third, meaning they would face the Pacers if the playoffs began today.

Even more important than that dynamic is the fact the conference itself is so bunched up. The Wizards are two games out of second, but the Pacers are only three games behind Washington. Tiebreakers could come into play in April and head-to-head season series records are at the top of the tiebreaker list.

After Friday night's 112-107 victory over the Pacers, the Wizards hold a 2-1 advantage in the season series with the finale coming up on Feb. 16. Was all of that lost on the Wizards? Of course not.

It is super important. We take it seriously," shooting guard Bradley Beal said. "That is something that is in the back of our head. At this point of the year, you are looking at seeding. You are looking further down the line at playoffs, and where you want to be and what the match ups are going to be potentially so we just take it a game at a time, a series at a time, and try to get them all.”

"We came into this game talking about that, we knew it was going to be very important," point guard John Wall said. "It was a big win against them, but we have them again next week so its going to be a big game to try and win the whole series against them. They're a tough team, they're a great team at home. We just have to keep playing well and defending." 

[RELATED: Markieff Morris not cool with 'Phoenix Outlaws' nickname]

Center Marcin Gortat addressed the next matchup in more detail. The Wizards really want to take three of four and avoid a split in their four games against the Pacers. He knows the Pacers will have the playoffs on their mind.

"The hardest thing right now is that we're going to play against this team in a few days again and they are definitely come out ready to play. They're going to try to punch us back for what we did here at home. It's actually a really hard situation for us," Gortat said.

The Wizards hold a winning record against four of the seven other teams currently in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They are 2-1 against the Pacers, Hawks, Celtics and Bulls. They are 1-1 against the Pistons, 0-2 against Cleveland and 0-1 against Toronto.

The playoffs remain far off in the distance, but it's not too early to begin thinking about what could help the Wizards down the road.

[RELATED: 5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pacers]

Quick Links

Bradley Beal sees Phil Chenier's jersey retirement as something to strive for

Bradley Beal sees Phil Chenier's jersey retirement as something to strive for

The relationship between Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and Bullets legend Phil Chenier goes beyond your average friendship between a current and former player, or a current player and team broadcaster. Beal and Chenier are close to the point Chenier often offers advice as a fellow shooting guard who helped lead the organization to some of their most important accomplishments.

Beal is always open ears when Chenier is talking and took great honor in being the one to tell Chenier personally that his jersey would be retired by the Wizards. The day has come for Chenier's No. 45 to be raised to the rafters and Beal feels a unique sense of pride in seeing a man he reveres to the highest degree finally have his day in the sun.

"It's unbelievable. It's more than deserving," Beal said. "I was happy to be the one who told him about it. It's a special night for him. He's been a mentor to a lot of us for many years."


Chenier was a three-time All-Star for the Washington Bullets back in the 1970s. Following his playing career, he became a legendary broadcaster calling Bullets and then Wizards games for over 30 years.

Beal is now an NBA All-Star himself, having earned the honor for the first time this season. He is a shooting guard, just like Chenier.

Chenier was the color analyst for Wizards games for the first five years of Beal's career and Beal has always seen Chenier as a model to follow both on and off the court.

"It's always motivation for me to get better and I feel like this is the final touch of it, having your jersey retired by the franchise that you played a part in their success," Beal said.


The honor Chenier is about to receive is another goal to strive for. Beal wants to achieve a lot of what Chenier has accomplished in his life from winning a championship to making All-NBA to now having his jersey hang in the rafters at Capital One Arena.

"It definitely motivates me for that to be a goal of mine. Especially with the fact we both play the same position," Beal said.


NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

For more on Chenier's jersey retirement, check out our in-depth interview with him on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

Quick Links

Wizards vs. Nuggets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Nuggets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Special night

It will be an emotional night for many as the Wizards get set to retire Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey. Chenier was not only a great player for the franchise during their heyday in the 1970s, but he was a legendary broadcaster of Wizards and Bullets games for decades and has been an ambassador for the organization for a long, long time. 

His jersey will be raised during a halftime ceremony hosted by Chenier's former broadcast partner and good friend Steve Buckhantz. Chenier will have many friends and family on hand. All fans will also receive emoji signs with Chenier's face on them.

Chenier's ceremony will air live at halftime during the NBC Sports Washington broadcast, so make sure you stick around for that. It should be a great moment for D.C. sports fans.


Harris is out

Like the Wizards and John Wall, the Nuggets will be without one of their best players as star guard Gary Harris is dealing with right knee soreness. Harris, just 23, is Denver's leading scorer with 17.7 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting from the field and 39.9 percent from three. 

The Nuggets still have plenty of firepower beyond him. Nikola Jokic is one of the game's brightest young stars with averages of 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He shoots a ridiculous 39.3 percent from three as a big man. Guard Jamal Murray, just 20, is averaging 16.5 points while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three. Then there is Paul Millsap, a four-time All-Star who is averaging 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season.

The Wizards' defense will be put to the test, as the Nuggets are one of the best scoring teams in basketball. They boast the seventh-best points per game average (109.8) and the sixth-best offensive rating (112.4). 


Last time was interesting

The first time these teams squared off, back on Oct. 23 in just the third game of the season, things got a little weird. In the final minute, Jokic was assessed a technical for bumping into Wizards head coach Scott Brooks.

It was a bizarre sequence that helped the Wizards come away with a win. Given it was an incident between a player and coach, nothing will happen in the way of retaliation, but it's something to keep in mind as these teams go at it again.


NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!