The Indiana Pacers play another sub-.500 Eastern Conference team on Friday night, but the Washington Wizards appeared headed toward a higher standing in the East after struggling at the outset of the season.
The Wiz arrive at the Fieldhouse on a three-game winning streak with five wins in their last six games. John Wall makes the Wizards go and his improved play of late has coincided with W's. In fact, Wall earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors for scoring 24.3 points, 8.5 assists and 2.75 steals per games during a 3-1 week for Washington.
Part of Wall's game is pushing the ball in transition which makes Washington one of the top teams in the league in transition points. The Pacers will need to account for the transition success and force Washington to beat them with half court offense. The Pacers did a great job of shutting down Minnesota's strong transition offense, holding the Wolves to six points. But Washington is a bit of a different beast with Wall attacking in open space.
I'm really looking forward to this matchup as a great test for the Pacers offense. The Wizards also have a strong front court to throw at the Pacers with Marcin Gortat at center which allows Nene to play power forward where he looked fabulous scoring 30 points earlier this week against the Lakers.
None of the weapons the Wiz have seem to be consistent, whether through injuries or up and down production, so again, if the Pacers can force Washington to play 48 minutes through the Blue and Gold's signature defense, we could see another team eventually run out of gas and go away.
The Pacers also get a break with shooting guard Bradley Beal expected to miss the game with a leg injury. Beal leads with Wizards in scoring with 20 points per game, but Wall has picked up the slack in his absence. Still, depth favors the Pacers with Beal joining rookie Otto Porter and vet Al Harrington on the sidelines. As usual, the Pacers are missing Danny Granger.
Vegas has the Pacers at 10-point favorites which seems hefty after taking a peak at the Wiz. But, of course, the Pacers have a few options they can turn to, as well. Should be a fun one!
For more on the Wizards, check out Bullets Forever. Also, please add your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.