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12 games more than enough time for Wizards to self-correct for playoff run

12 games more than enough time for Wizards to self-correct for playoff run

In an 82-game season, every team hits a skid and it usually happens more than once. After a 2-8 start, the Wizards are in the midst of another as they've lost 4 of 5 heading into Wednesday's home game with the Atlanta Hawks.

They were in control of most of the tiebreakers in the East, which could come down to them for playoff seeding if they have the same record as the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors.

The problem is, after routing the Raptors on their floor with a chance to win that series, the Wizards were routed at Verizon Center post-All-Star break. With a chance to seal their series with the Boston Celtics on Monday, the Wizards lost on the road to fall in a 2-2tie  and will lose that tiebreaker to them because the next deciding factor is conference record. Boston's is better.

Even the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors go through stretches when questions arise about their championship mettle. It has happened at around the same time for Cavs for the second season in a row, and when the Warriors lost 5 of 7 recently. 

The Warriors, by the way, are 56-14 and are missing their best player in Kevin Durant. They'll be fine. Kevin Love just returned from injury for the Cavs. They'll be fine, too. 

Everyone is chasing them, and even though the Wizards (42-28) have missed some major opportunities, they're virtually assured a top four seed -- which means home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- at worst. Given the projections about this team going into the season, and most certainly after the first month, this isn't a time to panic.

They have a good chance of holding onto the No. 3 spot and staying ahead of the No. 4 Raptors who they lead by just one game with 12 left in their season. The Celtics have a soft schedule and are likely to maintain their No. 2 spot, but Toronto doesn't have an easy road. Plus they're playing without their best playmaker in Kyle Lowry who is out with a wrist injury.

The pressure should be off the Wizards to do too much. They can accept their fate -- is settling for the third spot in the East now considered a letdown? -- worry only about Toronto and game plan for the postseason. 

What has to happen?

– The two best players, John Wall and Bradley Beal, have to be the two best players. In his last five games, Wall has shot 29 of 75 (39%). A double-double machine, he has only managed two in that stretch. Beal is 15-for-41 from three-point range (35.7%). 

– The top three-point shooter for most the season, Otto Porter, has been absent. He's getting more attention in coverages and requires being set up to be effective. Porter isn't a one-on-one player who can get his own shot. If there's not adequate pace and ball movement in the offense, Porter suffers. And defenses are no longer just giving him space to take what he wants when he wants. With the exception of the loss to the Charlotte Hornets when Porter was 4 of 9 from three, he's not getting off three-point looks to open the floor.

– There was a concerted effort made to get Marcin Gortat low-post touches to start games, especially when he had a size advantage against of Al Horford of the Celtics. That's how they got out on the right foot in their "funeral game" win over Boston because Horford doesn't have the size to deal with true fives on deep catches. In these last five games, Gortat hasn't scored more than eight points in any of them, and as he has been disengaged offensively it has tranlslated to the defensive end. 

– The one-on-one defense has been better since the five-game West coast trip, but it's still not nearly good enough. The 20 offensive rebounds from the Celtics is an indication that the Wizards are slow to react to the ball, out of position and aren't putting bodies on the opponent to prevent the easy putbacks.

– Take a look at all of the hustle stats listed by the NBA.com/stats SVU tracking, and the Wizards are middle of the pack or at the bottom. They were No. 2 in the league in deflections per game for the season, only behind Golden State, and in this stetch they're 17th at 15.6. The Wizards are 19th in loose balls recovered at 7.4 per game. The Houston Rockets are No. 1 at 13.5 to get an idea of the difference. That's about six extra possessions per game gained or lost.

Almost all of these problems are fixable. Communication, hustle and toughness can be controlled. The missed shots cannot but they can generate better looks for themselves by getting those extra possesions that put them in transition. And the bench is playing significantly better.

Despite all of the road games, if the Wizards are truly worthy of a No. 3 seed they're still in solid position to get it. But it wouldn't be the NBA if getting there were easy.

MORE WIZARDS: Oubre, Smith give hope to Wizards' improving 2nd unit

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the Wizards' 0-2 deficit and how Bradley Beal and Otto Porter need to play better.

They went into the potential change in the starting lineup, why the Wizards are doing so poorly on defense and the historical odds the Wizards are now up against.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Drake calls Kelly Oubre a 'bum', Oubre doesn't take the bait

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USA TODAY Sports

Drake calls Kelly Oubre a 'bum', Oubre doesn't take the bait

One thing rapper Drake has been known for is being a very vocal sports fan, that always seems to make himself the center of attention.

He also seems to be a fan of just about any team that happens to be winning at the moment. 

He's been seen in everything from Kentucky gear at a basketball game, to Alabama and Texas A&M football apparel (seriously, just Google "Drake bandwagon fan" and take a look).

One team he's always seemed to stay loyal to though is his hometown Raptors. Especially when it comes to yelling at anyone he can on the other team.

First, it was John Wall having a back-and-forth with Drake on the court.

Now, it seems to be Kelly Oubre that gets to help Drake suck up more attention on social media. 

After C.J. Miles hit a three-pointer during the fourth quarter of Washington’s 130-119 loss Tuesday night, the cameras caught him doing what he just can't help himself from doing.

Oubre though, doesn't take it personally, even when it was pointed out to him postgame.

Maybe it's because Oubre wants to start his own fashion line, and hopes to have Drake help promote it.

Maybe it's because Oubre doesn't want to ever show up on a Drake diss track (even though he apparently deleted this tweet from a long time ago right after the game).

Or Maybe Oubre is just being the bigger man.

Either way, it's safe to say this trend will continue for Drake and whoever his next Wizards target is on the court.

Given Drake's history though, if the Wizards come back and win the series, will we see him in a Wall or Oubre jersey?

Considering all the bandwagons he's jumped on, it would surprise very few if it happened. 

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