Sixers-Wizards 5 Things: Joel Embiid Rests as Jahlil Okafor Reenters Equation

The Sixers (12-25) close out a back-to-back set against the Washington Wizards (19-19) at the Verizon Center Saturday night (8 p.m./CSN, and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup.

1. Progress is a process
Tweeting, dancing, spitting out water to mimic wrestlers. You can do whatever you want when you own the longest current winning streak in the Eastern Conference.

That's exactly what the Sixers have going on after swarming the Charlotte Hornets for a 102-93 win Friday night. The victory was the Sixers' third in a row - the first time they've accomplished that since January 2014 - and fifth in their last six games overall.

The Sixers leaned heavily on their defense Friday, as they held the Hornets to a 32.9 percent shooting and forced them into a season-high 19 turnovers.

"My job here, I've been trying to change the culture," Joel Embiid said. "I think people are starting to see that we're winning games. The way people view the Sixers -​ hopefully that changes." 

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2. Hey, remember me?
One thing that won't change for the Sixers at the moment is Embiid sitting out the second half of back-to-back sets. The big man will be sidelined against the Wizards for rest.

That means Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor will handle the bulk of the minutes at center.

Noel has played well in a reserve role. He's been receiving regular playing time for 10 straight games now and put up 8.2 points (64.8 percent shooting), 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks a night in that span.

Meanwhile, Okafor has been moved completely out of the rotation. He's played just 10:10 over the past six games and received four straight DNP-CDs from Brett Brown.

Okafor admitted earlier in the week that "it's a funky situation" being glued to the bench behind the other bigs now but said he's also looking forward to his opportunities to get back on floor. That first chance will come against the Wizards.

3. Watch out for Wall
John Wall will also be eager to get on the court for a couple of different reasons.

The first one is that would mean he is healthy enough to actually suit up. Wall has been battling injuries to his left wrist and right pinky finger. An MRI on the finger came back clean on Friday.

Another reason Wall will be itching to return to action is the last time he was on the floor, he got into a postgame scuffle with Boston's Jae Crowder after the Wizards suffered a 117-108 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday. Crowder and Wall engaged in a heated discussion after the buzzer when the Boston forward poked Wall in the nose. Wall retaliated by swiping Crowder in the face before the two were separated.

Now Wall can focus on a Sixers franchise he has tormented over the years. Wall has averaged 19.0 points, 9.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds against the Sixers during his career.

4. Injuries
Embiid (rest), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Tomas Satoransky (illness) is a game-time decision. Ian Mahinmi (knee) is out for the Wizards.

5. This and that
• The Sixers snapped a six-game losing skid to the Wizards with a 109-102 win in the season's first meeting back on Nov. 16.

• With Embiid also sitting out the season's first matchup, Okafor had 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting with five rebounds in the win.

• Wizards guard Bradley Beal is coming off a 35-point game against the Celtics and is averaging 25.6 points per game in January.

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