Fifteen games remain on the Wizards' schedule, but only three of them are against teams they are directly battling in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Wednesday will be the first of those three games, as they host the Orlando Magic for a 7 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington.
The Wizards are 11th in the East and 3 1/2 games out of the eighth spot. The Magic are ninth, just one game behind the Miami Heat, the team everyone is chasing.
If the Wizards can take out the Magic, they will help themselves in two ways. For one, they will gain a full game on Orlando. Second, they will win the season series between the teams, 2-1, and hold the tiebreaker in the event they finish with the same regular season record.
Though these teams are each gunning for the same goal, they are going about it in very different ways.
The Wizards and Magic will be a match-up of contrasting styles. Orlando is all about their defense. They rank fifth in the NBA in points allowed (106.8) and eighth in defensive rating (108.3). On offense they are dreadful, ranking 26th in scoring (105.8 ppg) and 25th in offensive rating (107.3).
The Wizards have been the opposite, and even more so after trading for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. Since they were added to the lineup on Feb. 8, the Wizards are tied for first in points (119.8 ppg) and place fifth in offensive rating (113.3), but rank 27th in points allowed (119.4) and 24th in defensive rating (113).
The biggest difference in approach may be in the speed these teams play and something will have to budge. The Magic like to grind it out in slower games. The Wizards like to push the ball in a run-and-gun offense.
The NBA measures pace by possessions per 48 minutes and the Magic are 26th in the category (98.1). The Wizards since adding Parker and Portis are third in pace at 104.85. That number would lead the NBA if held for the full season.
One team likes low-scoring, defensive battles. The other prefers to fly up and down the court in shootouts.
If the Wizards can force the Magic to play their game, it could work in their favor. Though, Orlando of course will try to do the same.
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