The All-Star break is the the rear view and Pacers vs. Wizards is on the menu tonight at the Verizon Center (in addition to beef stew, green beens and mashed potatoes in the media work room). Washington welcomes back local All-Star weekend heroes John Wall -- the new Rookie Challenge assists record holder -- and JaVale McGee, he of dunk contest runner-up fame.
But while the break provided the Wizards with a chance to show off the franchise a little bit on a national stage, the post-break schedule means it's back to playing actual basketball games, an area the Wizards face much room for improvement. Sure, the trade deadline could provide a few more distractions (see: this latest NBA trade rumor involving Josh Howard), but for the most part there will be a focus on basketball -- mainly, assessing the Wizards for next season.
The Pacers are in the thick of whatever you whatever is going on at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. At 24-30, Indiana has a two-game lead on Charlotte for the eighth and final playoff seed, and a 3.5 lead on the Bucks. They also sit just two games behind the Sixers for the seventh spot -- so those are the teams jostling for the right to be run over by one of Miami, Boston or Chicago in the first round.