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Charles Barkley drops tough love on 'mediocre' Wizards


Charles Barkley drops tough love on 'mediocre' Wizards

Charles Barkley's commentary style is direct. Funny and insightful at times, absolutely, but most of all the NBA on TNT analyst doesn't pull any punches.

That showed during a media conference call with Barkley and other members of the "Inside the NBA" broadcast Thursday afternoon as the network promoted its upcoming coverage of All-Star game festivities.

Barkley received a question about whether he finds himself holding back on some comments knowing so many NBA players watch the popular show. The basic reply from Barkley was a blunt no, but that's when things got interesting. Because the question came from a Washington Times reporter, Barkley latched on to the local angle with the Wizards for an example. For those not keeping score at home, Washington's record fell to 21-26 following Wednesday's 134-121 nationally televised loss to the Golden State Warriors.

"That little team y'all got in Washington, they're mediocre at best," Barkley stated. "You want me to tell you they're really good? They're not very good. They're mediocre at best. That's just a fact."

When it comes the Wizards, Barkley often backed the team over the last two seasons, both of which ended with trips to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Clearly he's changed his mind.

"That's another team that's disappointing," Barkley continued. "If you want me to tell you they're world beaters, they have a shot at this thing -- they don't have a shot at this thing. They're just playing out the 82 games of the regular season, maybe get to the playoffs and their season is going to be over. That's a fact."

The facts are the Wizards are tied for 10th in the East, 3.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Simply looking at that data and the mediocre tag is fair. Yet the postseason remains within reach especially if the defense improves significantly, Bradley Beal's minutes increase and the team takes advantage of a soft remaining schedule.

Yet Washington has lost seven of nine games. Pointing that out isn't tough love, just the facts.

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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.




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


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!