Let's cut to the Chase. The Washington Wizards have been playing some really well basketball without their All-Star point guard John Wall who is currently out with an knee injury. How good you say? Well the have won 9 of their last 12 games, beating some good young teams including the Toronto Raptors & Cleveland Cavaliers & Philadelphia Sixers. All seemed lost when Wall went down, that's when multiple guys stepped up for Washington.
Bradley Beal led the way in Wall's absence with 24 points, eight assists and five rebounds, helping his team snap Philadelphia's seven-game winning streak in the process. Entering Sunday's NBA slate, the Wizards, 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks were all within 2.5 games of each other for the Nos. 3-7 seeds in the Eastern Conference, placing additional emphasis on these head-to-head results as the season progresses into the stretch run and underscoring how crucial Beal's performance was while countering 25 points and 10 boards from Embiid.
As you might know Otto Porter Jr. is usually an third option for the Washington Wizards as he plays alongside Wall and Beal. Well, he has become the second option for Washington as he plays alongside Beal. Plus, Beal has to step up since Washington gave him that huge contract.
Kelly Oubre Jr. (19 points) served as a scoring spark off the bench and helped Washington dictate play in the first half.
The duo took over in the second quarter, drilling open looks and capping possessions with plenty of ball movement that had Philadelphia's typically strong defense running in circles. Porter's three at the buzzer gave Washington a 67-48 halftime advantage, as each wingman had 16 points with six combined three-pointers by intermission.
"They can come back from 20-point deficits like it's nothing," Beal said of Philadelphia, which got as close as eight points in the fourth quarter. "And they almost got us with one. We did a good job of staying poised and closing it out in the end. But that's a hungry team that's going to be trouble."
Kelly Oubre scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half to help fourth-place Washington move a half-game ahead of Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Wizards improved to 9-3 in an extended stretch without All-Star point guard John Wall (knee surgery), in a game where a loss would've seen them drop behind the 76ers based on winning percentage.
"I mean, he's a huge part of the team," 76ers guard Ben Simmons said of Wall. "But at the same time, they have an All-Star in Bradley Beal, so you can't really take anything away from them. They are a good team, they play together. They are not selfish and they move the ball."
Porter and Oubre were hitting the shots when they presented themselves, but the backcourt combination of Beal and Tomas Satoransky deserved plenty of credit for keeping the ball off the floor even in half-court sets. Washington had 22 assists on 27 made field goals in the first half and 35 assists overall in a clinic of ball movement. As for Beal, he still got his points but found himself handling the ball more, working in pick-and-rolls and generating looks for himself and others off the bounce rather than looking for open catch-and-shoot opportunities as he does when Wall is the primary facilitator. The result was his seventh straight game with at least five assists.
Now here's a paragraph about the Wizards from our Friends at (Sports Illustrated): The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the year, and it’s all happening without their star point guard. Washington has wins over the Pacers, Raptors, Cavs and 76ers this month. Tomas Satoransky has been a revelation, sliding into Wall’s spot in the starting lineup and giving the team heroic minutes. The Sato-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat five-man unit has a net rating of 15.2. Meanwhile, the Sato-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Gortat group has a 22.0 net rating.