Milwaukee and Washington hold identical 30-31 records and have split the first two meetings. Friday’s showdown will decide the tiebreaker if the teams are locked for the eighth spot at the end of the season.
“It is real big,” Wizards guard Larry Hughes said. “We only play them three times and this game is real big in that it is the tiebreaker.”
Washington posted a 99-80 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Hughes and Jerry Stackhouse each scored 20 points and Brendan Haywood netted 15 as the Wizards placed all five starters in double figures.
After the game, the focus was on the Bucks. The teams have not met since Milwaukee picked up veteran guard Gary Payton.
“We are both fighting to get into the playoffs,” Wizards forward Christian Laettner said. “Sometimes we get eight and sometimes they are nine and sometimes it is the other way around. It is a big game.”
Milwaukee fell to 1-1 on a three-game road trip after a 111-99 loss at Orlando on Wednesday. Payton and Michael Redd each scored 16 points and Tim Thomas and Sam Cassell netted 15 apiece for Milwaukee.
The Bucks are just 3-4 since Payton made his debut for them on February 22. Payton is averaging 20.5 points and 8.0 assists for his new team.