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Nets & Wizards try to rise in the standings

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*Looks at the standings and the jig*
*Looks at the standings and the jig*
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It's the close ones that hurt the most. The Brooklyn Nets fought back and even led late against the Conference leading Atlanta Hawks, but they weren't able to seal deal and came away with a heartbreaking 114-111 defeat on Wednesday night. They're still in position to make the playoffs, but they have no margin for error from here on out. More on that in a bit.

The opponent this evening will be the Washington Wizards. The Wiz will make be competing in the playoffs for the second straight season. They beat up the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night and won by 29 points. Washington is fifth in the Eastern Conference and, as of this writing, would play Toronto in the first round. Once the playoffs begin, the Wiz will be looking to reach their first Conference Finals since the 1978-1979 season.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV, WCBS 880 AM on the radio. Tip off is after 7:30.

Hand in hand

On Wednesday night, the Celtics beat the Pistons, Hornets lost to the Raptors, Bucks lost to the Cavaliers and the Pacers beat the Knicks. Last night, the Bulls beat the Heat. Here's an updated look at the standings:

2014-2015

Record

Games behind

Tiebreaker situation

Games remaining

Milwaukee

38-40 own tiebreaker over Hornets,Heat,and Celtics, split series vs.Pacers, lead 2-1 vs. Nets (final meeting on 4/12) 4

Boston

36-42

-

Won season series vs. Nets, Hornets, and Pacers, down 1-0 to Bucks, lost season series vs. Heat 4

Brooklyn

36-42

-

own tiebreaker vs. Charlotte and Indiana, lost season series to Celtics and Heat, down 2-1 to Milwaukee 4

Indiana

35-43

1

split series with Bucks, lost season series to Nets and Celtics, own tiebreaker vs. Hornets and Heat 4

Miami

35-44

1

own tiebreaker over Nets and Celtics, split season series vs. Hornets, lost series vs. Pacers and Bucks 3

Charlotte

33-45

3

lost season series to Nets, Pacers and Celtics, split season series vs. Heat, won season series vs. Bucks 4

Tonight, the Hornets go to Atlanta, Celtics go to Cleveland, and the Pacers go to Detroit.

Injuries

No word on if Alan Anderson will be playing tonight after he suffered an ankle injury last week.

The Wiz are healthy.

The game

What's going on? Since we're asking:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Washington

Record

36-42 45-33

Pace

94.96 95.98

Offensive Efficiency

102 102.2

Defensive Efficiency

105.2 99.8

Turnover Rate

14.4 15.5

Assist Rate

16.4 18.4

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.8 24.6

Rebounding Rate

48.9 51.6

Free Throw Rate

26.7 26.1

Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.2 50.2

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.6 48

The Nets won the first meeting while the Wizards took the second and third games.

John Wall took the night off against the Sixers, but he should be good to go tonight. Nene and Paul Pierce have been resting recently, but they're fine.

Even as the Wiz head into their second straight playoff appearance, there's been a lot of criticism sent Randy Wittman's direction. The team has had some ugly stretches and they still take too many midrange jump shots. Over at the mothership, Tom Ziller broke it down:

A contrarian might note that the Wizards are better than last season andare in comfortable playoff position. But with John Wall having a near All-NBA season, Beal looking great when healthy and a frontcourt battery featuringMarcin Gortat and Nene, you'd hope for more in the weak, shallow East. There's a case to be made that despite heading toward the No. 5 seed, the Wizards have been the third-most disappointing team in the conference (behind the Hornets and Knicks). That's largely on Wittman.

Safe to say, if Washington doesn't have a great playoffs, the calls to fire Wittman will only intensify.

Another day, another excellent showing by Brook Lopez. The big man had another great showing, scoring a game high 26 points and making ten free throws against Al Horford and the Hawks. Marcin Gortat will be the one matched up with Brook tonight. He had a great all around game against Philadelphia on Wednesday. He scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and handed out six assists in only 26 minutes. He can score on the inside as well as step out to the elbow and hit jumpers. Lopez will have to keep Gortat, Kevin Seraphin, Kris Humphries and the rest of the Wizards off the glass. Washington is the fourth best rebounding team in the league this season, collecting 51.6 percent of the available rebounds per 100 possessions.

He's taken a lot of criticism throughout the season, but you have to give Deron Williams credit for his recent play. He had his third 10+ assist game in the past week, handing out 13 on Wednesday. Even when he doesn't shoot well, D-Will can influence a game by setting his teammates up so they can have good scoring opportunities. Ramon Sessions was traded to the Wizards at the deadline in exchange for Andre Miller. Getting away from the Kings has done wonders for Sessions. He's shooting much better, is getting to the free throw line more often, and has cut down on the turnovers. The Wiz will probably give Wall a light workload so he can be fully rested for the playoffs next weekend, so Sessions should see a lot of minutes. Williams has the size to post him up and should look to do that whenever he gets the chance.

Player to watch: Bradley Beal

Beal didn't play the last time the Wizards played Brooklyn, so I didn't get a chance to break this out. He's here tonight, so...

That embarrassment aside, it's been a pretty nice season for Beal. His field goal percentages have risen again and he's shooting 43 percent overall and 41.5 percent from three point range. Beal missed about a month due to an ankle injury in February, but now that he's back and playing well, the Wiz have another capable scoring option to accompany Wall and Paul Pierce.

Bojan Bogdanovic will see a lot of minutes this evening. Bogdanivic has come on of late and helps space the floor for the Nets. He'll come off the bench and Markel Brown will draw the first assignment on Beal. Brown has impressed the Nets with his defense and it'll be up to him to prevent Beal from getting good looks from behind the arc.

From the Vault

The Wiz have always had trouble with the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs. Having to deal with Michael Jordan in 1997? Even more trouble.

More reading: Bullets ForeverAt the HiveCeltics Blog, and Indy Cornrows