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

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

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards host DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Friday night as they aim to continue rising the ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS vs. TORONTO RAPTORS

Where: Verizon Center
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Jennings debuts with second unit

The biggest reason why the Wizards beat the Raptors on Wednesday was their bench, which put in its best effort as a group of this season so far. Bojan Bogdanovic, who was recently acquired in a trade at the deadline, led all scorers with 27 points. Ian Mahinmi, who has been sidelined for most of this year with injuries, had a season-high three blocks. Jason Smith was huge with eight points and five rebounds in 10 minutes. The question now becomes whether they can do it again and if that was a sign of more to come.

The bench will have one major change on Friday as Brandon Jennings will join the mix making his Wizards debut. He was signed as a free agent on Wednesday and, like Bogdanovic and Mahinmi just recently before him, will have to get acclimated quickly with only 23 games remaining in the season.

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A lot on the line

By beating the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night, the Wizards have given themselves an opportunity to win the season series on Friday in the rematch as part of a back-to-back set. With another win, the Wizards will hold the tiebreaker between the teams at the end of the regular season. That could come in handy, given the Wizards are currently third in the East at 36-23, while the Raptors are in fourth at 36-25.

This game will have more importance than your average regular season matchup and players on both teams would admit it. With the playoffs now in focus just six weeks away, this is a big one.

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How will Toronto respond?

The Wizards pulled out an impressive victory on Wednesday night on the road against the Raptors, just one day after they beat the Warriors at home. It was probably the best two-day stretch this team has had in a long time. 

Not to take anything away from the Raptors, but Toronto was absolutely dreadful on Wednesday. They had only 11 assists as a team on 33 field goals made and shot 36.7 percent. You can bet they will be extra motivated to bounce back and not just because of the aforementioned stakes for this game. The Raptors gave an embarrassing effort for a team bound for the playoffs and this is their chance to right that wrong.

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NBA Week at a Glance: Road ahead gets tougher for Wizards

NBA Week at a Glance: Road ahead gets tougher for Wizards

Last week was a frustrating one for Wizards fans. Just when it seemed the team was building momentum for a push at claiming the No. 8 seed, it predictably laid two duds with losses to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and injury-riddled Chicago Bulls.

The good news is the Wizards fell back by just half a game in the conference standings. The bad news is the schedule gets much more difficult. To gain ground, the Wizards needed those wins over bad teams. Now, they’ll need to beat good teams and overcome two-time MVP Stephen Curry’s potential return to the court to keep up.

Here’s what we’re looking forward to this week from the Wizards and other teams around the Association.

Wizards (20-35) 

Standings: 9th in Eastern Conference (3.5 GB Orlando Magic)

Schedule 

  • Monday vs. Bucks (48-8), 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington
  • Wednesday vs. Nets (26-29), 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington
  • Friday at Jazz (36-20), 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington
  • Sunday at Warriors (12-45), 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington

Washington begins the week on the second night of a back-to-back against the best team in the NBA. The Wizards are 12 ½-point underdogs against the Milwaukee Bucks for a reason, as this is a game absolutely no one expects them to win. It also happens to be a preview of the Wizards’ first-round playoff matchup if they’re able to squeak into the eighth seed.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out with a shoulder injury the last time these teams played, but Khris Middleton picked up the slack with a career-high 51 points in a 20-point win. Bradley Beal had one of his many 40-point performances of the season that night but like last Sunday’s loss to the Bulls, it wasn’t enough. The Wizards are now 1-7 when he scores 40 this year.

Next, the Wizards host a Brooklyn Nets team a lot closer in the standings (No. 7 -- 6.5 games ahead of Wizards) but also playing really well. The Nets are 7-3 in their last 10 despite the absence of Kyrie Irving who is out the rest of the season with his own shoulder issue. The good news for the Wizards is they beat this team in their last matchup, which also happened to be the last time Irving played.

The Wizards head West on Friday to play the Utah Jazz, who are presently dealing with their own inconsistencies. Utah began the month with a five-game losing streak followed by a four-game winning streak, and it is now coming off of two straight losses. Still one of the NBA’s better teams, led by All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert with a great supporting cast, expect the Jazz to give the Wizards everything they can handle.

Finally, the Wizards close the week against the Golden State Warriors in what could be Stephen Curry’s first game since breaking his hand in October. Over the weekend, Curry said he’s targeting a March 1 return. The Warriors might have the worst record in the NBA, but they’re obviously a different team with one of the league’s best players back in the lineup. Also, Beal can break Walt Bellamy's team record of 17 straight games with at least 25 points if he keeps his current streak of 14 going into this game.

NBA

Monday: Grizzlies at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV

Ja Morant’s Grizzlies have struggled of late and are at risk of falling below .500 for the first time since January. Playing a team with two of the league’s best players -- Kawhi Leonard and Paul George -- may not be the remedy, but then again the Clippers have lost three straight. Expect two teams desperate for a win to put on a fun battle.

Tuesday: Bucks at Raptors, 7:30 p.m. on TNT

The storylines are endless here: The Eastern Conference’s top two seeds, a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview, a rematch of last year’s ECF -- minus Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmp vs. Pascal Siakam. What more do you need to know?

Wednesday: Celtics at Jazz, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN

It’ll be the second night of a back-to-back in the middle of a road swing for the Celtics, but if they want people to believe they’re one of the league’s elites, this is a chance to add to the resume. Also, Jayson Tatum has been incredible lately and alone is worth tuning in.

Thursday: Trail Blazers at Pacers, 8 p.m. on TNT

The Trail Blazers, like the Wizards, can’t seem to close the small gap between them and the 8th seed in their conference. Still, they’re just three games back of the Grizzlies and by Thursday night, Damian Lillard could be back in the lineup. Lillard only expected to miss three or four games after the All-Star Break and this game would be the fourth. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is dealing with a back injury, but early indications are it won’t be hampering him still by the time this game rolls around.

Friday: Thunder at Bucks, 8 p.m. on ESPN

Did you know the Thunder are in sixth place in the Western Conference? What was supposed to be a rebuild year after trading Paul George and Russell Westbrook has turned into a sneaky good team. This will be OKC's second game against the league’s best team this season. Chris Paul's squad lost by just two the first time around.

Saturday: Rockets at Celtics, 8:30 p.m. on ABC

One week after the Celtics dueled with the rival Lakers on national television, they get another one of the West’s bests. This time it’s the Rockets and the league’s best scorer James Harden (35.2 points per game), as two of the league’s best offenses clash. The Rockets play a uniquely small brand of basketball worth seeing against a Celtics team that usually has to prepare for the size of the East’s best.

Sunday: 76ers at Clippers, 3:30 p.m. on ABC

Besides a loss to the Bucks over the weekend, the 76ers have played well as of late. But of their last three wins, only one came over a team with a winning record. That win was at home against the Clippers on Feb. 11. Now, they travel to Los Angeles to see if they can take that act on the road against a determined LA squad.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Real Marquee Matchup: Wizards get glimpse into potential playoff series against Bucks

Real Marquee Matchup: Wizards get glimpse into potential playoff series against Bucks

Even though the Wizards are ninth in the Eastern Conference, therefore just one spot out of the playoff picture, the talk of them making the postseason should probably settle down a bit following their two disappointing losses to the Cavs and Bulls coming out of the All-Star break. But on Monday night, they will get a preview of what life would be like in the first round of the playoffs, if they were to make it.

The Wizards will host the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks, who clinched a playoff spot on Sunday night thanks to the Wizards' loss in Chicago. Yes, it is only Feb. 24 yet the Bucks have punched their ticket, already with 48 wins in only 56 games.

Milwaukee, in fact, is on pace to win 70 games this season. That would rank third all-time only behind the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73) and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72).

The Wizards just recently got obliterated by the Bucks, 151-131, and their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, didn't even play. Barring something unforeseen, he should be available on Monday.

Antetkounmpo appears on his way to a second consecutive MVP award, averaging an absurd 30 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. The last two times he has played the Wizards, he has scored 43 points.

First round upsets are always rare in today's NBA with seven-game series, which are long enough to eliminate any real hope for parity. But the scale is tipped even more so in years like this, when the No. 1 seed is shaping up to be a historic juggernaut.

The playoffs, though, are still months away. And really, the Wizards have more pertinent problems to figure out. They need to bounce back from two frustrating losses against teams they should have beaten.

The Bucks offer an opportunity in the sense that an upset win would erase any bad feelings about the last two days. A victory would instantly become the signature win of the Wizards' season.

They have yet to beat anyone of Milwaukee's caliber, but they have pulled off some stunners. This season they have knocked off six teams with winning records including the Nuggets and Celtics, two of the top-five records in the NBA. A win over the Buckw would top them all.

There is also, though, the potential for a rough night for the Wizards. They need to at a minimum put up a better fight against Milwaukee than they did just weeks ago.

They could use some positive momentum now, but also some semblance of hope for a potential playoff series down the road. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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