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Wizards lose tiebreaker in crucial defeat to Pacers: Five takeaways

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Wizards lose tiebreaker in crucial defeat to Pacers: Five takeaways

In the Wizards' last game, on the road at the Cleveland Cavaliers, it wasn't a must-win. Saturday, vs. the Indiana Pacers at Verizon Center, it was but they succumbed to two late free throws by Paul George with three seconds left to lose 100-99.

The Pacers (33-30) win the season series 2-1 and hold the crucial tiebreaker with a month left in the regular season. George (38 points) led all scorers and was followed by Monta Ellis (17).

In their 10th home sellout, the Wizards (30-32) there for the first time in seven games and are 7-4 since All-Star break. 

Bradley Beal (12 points) re-entered the starting lineup for the first time since the break while Garrett Temple (11 points) returned to his role off the bench. John Wall had his 36th double-double of the season (25 points, 12 assists) as Marcin Gortat (eight points, 17 rebounds), Markieff Morris (14 points) and Nene (10 points).

With the East so contested below the top two seeds, Cleveland and the Toronto Raptors, the rest of the field is wide open. The Wizards still have a chance to win the season series with the Chicago Bulls (1-1), Detroit Pistons (2-0) and Atlanta Hawks (0-1) to give themselves the tiebreaker edge which is the first criteria to determine seedings as well.

The Wizards had a chance to win it at the end but Wall's jumper was long at the buzzer.

  • Beal and Wall went at Ellis repeatedly in matchups in the first half and it gave them results. Not the strongest defender and undersized, they were able to get going early until Beal went down with 6:17 in the third quarter with a sprained pelvis. Pacers coach Frank Vogel switched to Solomon Hill, who is bigger and a much better defender, in the second half and for most of the final two quarters the Wizards only had 23 points. Ellis defended Temple, who likely will be back in the starting lineup but the second unit which previously benefited from Beal's output. Beal logged 24 minutes before exiting.

  • Provided he can play starter's minutes, Alan Anderson (nine points, four assists, 24 minutes) might prove to be the best option at small forward. The moment Anderson came in the game he hit his first shot, a three-pointer, on a catch-and-shoot from Wall.  Another option that could be on the table -- if Anderson is pain-free with his left ankle -- is moving Porter to Beal's role in the starting five and slotting in Anderson. Of course, that would have a ripple effect with the bench which would lose some of it's punch.

  • The rebounding issues that the Wizards had early on seem resolved. They won the battle on the boards 46-42 with Gortat's activity. Morris had eight rebounds, Wall six and Temple four.

  • Down the stretch when the Wizards needed defense, they got it. Anderson was physical with George moving off the ball and when he reversed Gortat was there to bump him to slow down his movement so Anderson could recover. Morris created a steal when George made an entry pass to Ian Mahinmi cutting to the rim, poking it away for Gortat to pick up. Anderson was hit with a questionable foul call at the end that put George on the line to make the winning foul shots, but it appeared that he lost the ball on his own. It's noteworthy that coach Randy Wittman went with Anderson over Otto Porter (six points, 19 minutes) with the game on the line.

  • Nene took an elbow to the face from Jordan Hill with 10:15 left in the second quarter on what was ruled an offensive foul. Nene had to leave but returned at 2:35 with a bandage over his right eye after he needed stitches. He made 1 of 2 free throws to put the Wizards ahead 99-98 going into the final possession for Indiana. 

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

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

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKING

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS