On/Off the Wall
With former no. 1 overall pick John Wall shelved to start the season, everyone knew the Wizards would be subpar. It’s tough to imagine they’d be quite as bad as they were in those first 33 games, though.
Without Wall in the lineup, the Wizards were downright wretched. Their 97 offensive rating with him on the bench is a full four points lower than the next-worst offensive team in the league. Things have been better in the 250+ minutes Wall has logged so far this season, although the team is still struggling mightily on offense. In Wall’s floor time, Washington’s offensive rating jumps to 102.3... which would put them ahead of only the Indiana Pacers. Still, it’s a step closer to respectability.
Surprisingly, the Wizards have seen a much greater impact on the defensive end with Wall’s return. Opponents’ effective field goal percentage drops by 2.9 percent when he’s on the floor, and they score 7.1 fewer points per 100 possessions. For a team already ranked sixth in defensive rating, the improvement they’ve seen on defense is helping to keep them in games.
Despite dropping two of their last three games, the Sixers have shown signs of life on the offensive end. They had 110.9, 109.2 and 113.9 over those three, well above their season rating. If they can continue to post efficient offensive numbers, they should see success against the Wiz.
Washington is actually one of the better defensive teams in the league, but win just over a quarter of their games against the teams residing in the top-10 for offensive efficiency. The Sixers are far from that territory, but they’ve been playing like it lately against some of the best defensive units. They put up an even 100 points against Memphis (second in defensive efficiency) with a 56.6 effective field goal percentage, while they posted that 110.9 o-rating against Milwaukee (seventh in defensive efficency).
The turnover battle could also be a turning point in this game. The Sixers, again one of the best teams in the league and taking care of the rock, should be able to manage enough extra possessions against the turnover-prone Wizards to gain an edge.