Verizon Center | 7pm | CSN | 1500 AM |
Wizards (41-26): G - Wall, G - Beal, F - Porter, F - Morris, C - Gortat
Bulls (32-36): G - Rondo, G - Valentine, F - Butler, F - Portis, C - Lopez
Wizards: Wall (foot) - Probable
Bulls: Wade (elbow) - Out | Payne (foot) - Out
Last Time Out
3/15/17: Mavericks 112 - Wizards 107
The Wizards returned home from a week long road trip and let a fourth quarter lead get away as they fell 112-107 to the Mavs on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 50 points, while Otto Porter had 14 points and 10 boards.
3/15/17: Grizzlies 98 - Bulls 91
The Bulls lost for the sixth time in their last seven games as they dropped a home bout to the Grizzlies on Wednesday night in Chicago. Rajon Rondo led the team with 17 points and eight assists.
Season Series with Chicago
The Bulls took the first game of the series in Chicago, but the Wizards have won the last two, first beating the Bulls at United Center in late December and then beating them again at Verizon Center in January. In their most previous battle, the Bulls had a fourth quarter lead, but the Wizards rallied late and John Wall hit a game-winning jumper with 5.9 seconds left to seal the win. Wall finished with 26p-14a in the win. Tonight is the fourth and final game of the season series.
What to Watch For
Wizards Get Back to Defense
While the Wizards have been talking about getting after it defensively over the last couple of weeks, their grueling schedule hasn't allowed them any practice time. But, Thursday they were finally able to get back on the court for a live practice and it was all about defense, according to Bradley Beal and head coach Scott Brooks. They ran one-on-one drills, they worked on switches, rotations, and communication, all things that have either been missing or have been done with a lack of focus since the All-Star break. Brooks has talked about this team having a defensive identity, but they have gotten away from that over the last couple of weeks, somewhat in part because their offense has been so good. But, they know shots won't fall every game and they'll need to rely on their defense to win games. With the playoffs about four weeks away, they'll look to get back to playing the type of defense they'll need to advance and the hope is that begins tonight.
Wall Feeling Better
John Wall left Wednesday's game near halftime with a sprained left foot, but returned to start the second half and didn't seem too bothered by the injury. After the game, he did say that the foot was sore and would receive treatment, but on Thursday Brooks said that Wall was feeling better and he anticipated that he would be even better on Friday for the game against Chicago. Wall didn't practice on Thursday, but it takes a lot to keep him out of a game so bearing any setbacks there's a good chance he'll be in the lineup on Friday.
Wade Out as Chicago Slides
The Bulls did not receive good news on Thursday as it was announced that their star guard Dwyane Wade would be out for the remainder of the regular season with a sprain and fracture in his right elbow. The Bulls have lost six of their last seven and are now on the outside of the playoff picture with just a month left of the season. With Wade out, their playoff chances took a big hit, but they still have an All-Star in Jimmy Butler and the Wizards can't overlook this team on Friday night. There's a chance rookie Denzel Valentine could step into the starting role in Wade's absence and the Wizards know him well, as he scored a career-high 19 points the last time these two teams played each other.
Otto Porter vs. Jimmy Butler
Otto has recorded double-doubles in two of his last three games and has now scored in double figures in five straight games. He's averaging just 9.0 ppg this season against Chicago, but much of that has been due to his responsibility trying to slow down All-Star Jimmy Butler. The sixth-year swingman has averaged 28.5 ppg in two games against Washington this season and he's capable of taking a game over with both his offense and defense. He's averaging a career high in points, rebounds, and assists and with Wade out of the lineup he'll likely take on an even bigger role on offense.