Game On: Wizards-Bobcats basically is a playoff game

Game On: Wizards-Bobcats basically is a playoff game
March 31, 2014, 11:30 am
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When the Charlotte Bobcats are winning, they play exceptional defense. In their eight wins in March, they hold opponents to 94 points per game. They've come a long way, entering Monday's game vs. the Wizards already with 14 wins more than a season ago. 

The weapons are plentiful. "He’s a load down there," Wizards point guard John Wall said of Al Jefferson. "Kemba Walker is a load. Gerald Henderson. In different games, different guys stepped up and scored big and we won one, they won one."

This is a big one given what's on the line and what's ahead: The No. 6 seed Wizards are three games in front of Charlotte, which wants to move out of the No. 7 slot to avoid a first-round playoff matchup with the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat.

The Bobcats are 8-7 this month and have a soft schedule, other than another matchup with the Wizards and one with Chicago Bulls, to end the season. The win percentage of their remaining opponents is about 33%.

Last season, the 21-win Bobcats swept the season series with the Wizards 4-0. 

"They give us trouble," said Trevor Ariza, the Wizards' best one-on-one defender who has a left groin injury, about the Bobcats. "We've got to go in there and try to get an early lead and try to take their heart away from them early."

While John Wall was able to get his shot, the rest of the Wizards' starters combined to go 15-for-42 from the field. 

RELATED: [Plan to stop Al Jefferson? 'Cut his arm off']

TV: The pregame show Wizards Central is on CSN at 6:30 p.m. ET. Tipoff from Time Warner Cable Arena is 7 and Wizards Postgame Live immediately follows the conclusion. Radio: 1500 AM. 106.7 FM. 

Last game: Wizards (38-35) beat Atlanta Hawks on Saturday; Bobcats (35-38) lost at Orlando Magic 110-105 OT on Friday.

Last meeting: Charlotte won 98-85 at Washington on March 12, going on a 19-3 run in the fourth quarter. Season series: Tied 1-1.

Projected starting lineups: Wizards –- PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Trevor Booker, C Marcin Gortat. Bobcats –- PG Kemba Walker, SG Gerald Henderson, SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF Josh McRoberts, C Al Jefferson.

X-factors: F Al Harrington has played 22 and 15 minutes in back-to-back games. This will be his third game in four days and he's still being brought back slowly on a minutes restriction. ... Ariza (left groin) probably will be be a game-time decision. If he's not able to go, expect F Martell Webster to get the call and Otto Porter or Chris Singleton -- more likely Singleton because of his experience -- to get bumped up in the rotation. 

Around the bend: The Wizards return to D.C. after the game, possibly practice Tuesday and play Wednesday vs. Boston Celtics at Verizon Center (CSN, 7).

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