Regular Season Game 70
Pacers (40-29) at Wizards (39-30)
March 17, 2018 at 7:00 PM Capital One Arena | Washington, DC
Radio: 1500 AM
Odds: WSH -4.0
(Photo: Geoff Burke via USA TODAY Sports)
What to Watch:
The Wizards make up for previous missed opportunities
In their second meeting in less than two weeks, the Wizards will make another attempt to move past one of many speed bumps in the Eastern Conference to finally reach the 3-seed.
The Wizards found themselves in nearly identical position back on March 4 when they faced the Pacers in D.C., but failed to capitalize on an enormous opportunity to take the season series by winning their second of three meetings. BUT, at the mercy of the basketball gods, the Wizards have another chance tonight to win what is arguably their most important post-All-Star match thus far. Not only do they have the chance to take the season series from Indiana and claim a critical playoff tiebreaker, but also move past Cleveland at the 4-seed and close in on Indiana for the 3-seed.
Victor Oladipo vs. the World
Victor Oladipo dismantled the Wizards’ defense on March 4th for 33 points on 20 shots. Maybe it was the hometown air, or perhaps his Upper Marlboro guest list that drove him to such domination, but the Wizards will need to find a way to suppress all that noise if they want to take this season series from Indiana tonight.
The challenge with defending Oladipo is figuring out a way to stop him in the open floor. He has a tendency to become a one-man army on offense, especially off missed shots and turnovers, streaking in transition and being forceful at the rim. This was where the bulk of Oladipo’s scoring input came last game against the Wizards, as six of his 11 buckets came in the paint. Transition defense and putting barriers on Oladipo’s path to the basket is key for the Wizards to overcome another potential scoring onslaught.
Bradley Beal’s clutch time stats have been fully documented and cemented in Wizards lore, but his breakdown late in the game against Indiana on March 4 was the culmination of those struggles.
Beal missed his final five shots of the game, including a critical botched layup in transition (that he claimed was a foul), and a 3-point attempt that would have tied the game.
A somber postgame Beal expressed his heartache:
“Vintage” Victor Oladipo from DeMatha hasn’t aged a bit.
(Photo: Geoff Bolte via Southcreek Global)
The Wizards have been fortuned to still be looming over the 3-seed and in the moshpit of six Eastern Conference teams separated by only three games. Thanks to the consistent struggles of the Cavs, the Wizards have had their own inconsistencies balanced out. Currently, the Wizards sit a half game behind Cleveland, and a full game behind Indiana. Their mindset tonight can be nothing other than getting over this tedious hump and capitalizing on their opportunity to pull ahead.
I’m going out on a limb to say the Wizards will open eyes and dominate.