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Courtside match-up: Four rounds of Wale vs. Drake


Courtside match-up: Four rounds of Wale vs. Drake

With Game 3 set to tipoff Friday night in Washington, the Wizards-Raptors series will move to Verizon Center, a.k.a. Wale country.

Both franchises hired their hometown rappers -- Drake from Toronto and Wale from Washington -- to help remake the image and feel of their teams. And while the rest of the basketball world breaks down match-ups on the floor, let's take a look at the biggest one sitting courtside. 

NBA cred

Wale: Wale repped the DMV hard at this year's NBA All-Star Weekend. While performing at the All-Star fashion show with Flo Rida, he wore a Redskins chain and a leather jacket with Maryland and DC flag patches on the lapel. He also played in the 2014 All-Star Celebrity Game.

Wale has history with the Raptors, too. In 2013, he confronted Toronto announcer Matt Delvin, who said he's never heard of Wale and called him a "local rapper" and "not Drake" during a broadcast of a Wizards-Raptors game at the Verizon Center. A part-miffed, part-bemused Wale made his way to their announcers table with Gheorghe Mureșan to "introduce himself" during halftime. 

Drake: The Canadian has a long history of NBA fandom. Drake has been involved with All-Star game festivities for years, including helping Terrance Ross in the 2014 dunk contest.

There's a more embarrassing side to his NBA involvement, though. Just check out the meme with photos of Drake cozying up to various stars, depicting him as the whole league's girlfriend. His greatest hits include getting turned away from the Heat locker room after Miami won the title in 2013, shopping for a house in Cleveland after LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers, and most notably to Wizards fans, holding Paul Pierce's arm on an inbounds play this past February.

Edge: Wale

Team contribution

Wale: As the Creative Liaison for the Wizards, Wale has helped revamp the in-game elements, music and even team merchandise. His song "Ambition" has become a staple of player introductions. Perhaps most importantly, Wale regularly sits courtside at home games to show his support. In January, the rapper revealed that he has consulted Kanye West about potentially redesigning Washington's uniforms. 

Drake: Drake, Global Ambassador for the Raptors, played a big role in the franchise's recent rebranding efforts. He contributed to a redesigned logo and the "We the North" slogan. The OVO rapper also makes frequent cameos at the Air Canada Centre, but hasn't always been an asset for Toronto. During a Toronto concert in 2014, Drake suggested that Kevin Durant should join the Raptors in 2016. He made his comments to the crowd, which included the reigning MVP, at the end of the show. The NBA hit Toronto with a $25,000 tampering fine a week later. Whoops. 

Edge: Draw

Hometown hype

Wale: The DC-born-and-based rapper gives his city shoutouts on almost every song, including 2009 breakout hit, "Chillin." He also counts the region's biggest star athletes among his personal friends. Wale joined RGIII, DeAngelo Hall and Kevin Durant to lobby Desean Jackson to join the Redskins last offseason. 

Drake: Though Drizzy reps the Queen City plenty in his songs, including "5 a.m. in Toronto," he's made just as many references to Houston. His 2013 album Nothing Was the Same paid homage to H-Town six different times. He name dropped Toronto native Andrew Wiggins in "Draft Day," but his rhymes reference NBA players regularly without any apparent preference for Raptors or Canadians. "Steph Curry with the shot," anyone?

Edge: Wale


Wale: In terms of top hits and record sales, Wale can't touch Drake. That's not a knock on Washington's favorite rapper -- who infuses his music with local go-go sounds and tributes to the DMV -- only a concession that he's put out comparatively fewer mainstream hits in his four studio albums (Attention Deficit, Ambition, The Gifted and Album About Nothing). The Gifted and the Album About Nothing reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hop-Hop and Hot Rap charts, but no Wale single has ever cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. "Lotus Flower Bomb" featuring Miguel did reach the top spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Fans will have to decide whether Wale beats Drake in quality if not quantity. He has won one BET Award and one BET Hip Hop Award, though. 

Drake: Drake's Thank Me Later, Take Care, Nothing Was the Same and If You're Reading This It's Too Late all reached No. 1 album on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hop-Hop, and Hot Rap charts. He's also had seven singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. That's not to mention 12 singles certified Platinum or higher. Perhaps his biggest advantage on Wale would be one Grammy, eight BET Awards, and 10 BET Hip Hop Awards. 

Edge: Drake

MORE WIZARDS: Raptors force Bradley Beal to call on 'inner Brad'

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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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