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Grading out: Where Marcin Gortat stands at All-Star break


Grading out: Where Marcin Gortat stands at All-Star break

Marcin Gortat has 27 double-doubles, with the last four coming consecutively going into the All-Star break, and is having his best statistical season since 2011-12 with the Phoenix Suns. 

But this season has been every bit as difficult for the 6-11 center, who said earlier in the season that the environment around the team had grown negative and it was no longer fun coming to Verizon Center.

The stats: 13.5 ppg, 9.9 apg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 bpg, 54.1% FG

Offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions): 102.5

Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 104.1

Net rating: minus-1.6

Gortat has been hit or miss on the defensive end which explains why the Wizards are at a deficit when he's on the floor. When he's good, and usually that's when he's physical, the Wizards are really good (see Dec. 1 upset at the Cleveland Cavaliers). He grabs 34.3% of contested rebounds, according to the NBA's SVU tracking data, which is equal to Al Horford (Hawks) and in the vicinity of Draymond Green (Warriors) at 35.5%. 

Grade: B-

Gortat is a finesse big who plays well when he's rolling to the basket and getting feeds from John Wall and Jared Dudley for a lot of uncontested looks in the paint. He's the third or fourth scoring option and isn't a back-to-the-basket big like Nene, who backs him up off the bench. Like in past seasons, Gortat doesn't always seem to be on the same page with the backcourt when it comes to coverage responsibilities which has led to teams finishing at an alarmingly high rate at the rim. 

MORE WIZARDS: Grading out: Where Ramon Sessions stands at All-Star break

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How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

The Wizards-Raptors first round playoff series has evolved to feature the emergence of several players who started off slowly including Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, Jr. The opposite has happened for Toronto big man Serge Ibaka.

After Ibaka lit up the Wizards for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 1, there has been a disappearance. His scoring has gone missing and it's a big reason why the Wizards have won two straight games and earned a 2-2 series split.

Head coach Scott Brooks knows Ibaka well from their days in Oklahoma City. He helped develop Ibaka and has since watched from afar as his game has changed to include a consistent outside game.

Brooks has on several occasions referred to Ibaka as one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league. The numbers back that up. Last season, he shot 39.1 percent from three on 4.0 attempts per game, excellent for a 6-foot-10 power forward.

This season that number dipped to 36 percent, but he hit 41 percent of his threes in his final 16 games of the regular season. That carried over into the playoffs when he went 3-for-4 in Game 1 as part of an 8-for-11 shooting night overall.

The Wizards made a point to take away those outside shots following their series-opening defeat. The way they are doing that is by crowding him when he gets the ball, even if it means him getting past the initial defender.

"You want to make sure you meet him on the catch. You want to take away his shot," Brooks said. "When he gets open shots, they are money. He's going to knock them down... We did a good job of meeting him on his catch and making him put the ball on the floor with his left hand. You can live with the results."

After his 23-point outburst in Game 1, Ibaka has scored just 20 points total in the last three games. He has gone 2-for-6 from three.

The Wizards are taking away his shot attempts in general. He took 11 shots in each of the first two games of this series, but just four in Game 3 and five in Game 4. In Game 3 he had three points and three turnovers and on Sunday he had seven points and four turnovers.

Here are two examples of the Wizards' defense on Ibaka. On this first play, Markieff Morris meets Ibaka as soon as he catches the ball and the result is a turnover:

On this next play, Morris follows Ibaka all the way to the rim and even though he goes up on a pump fake, Morris recovers to alter Ibaka's shot and force a miss:

The Wizards, however, did get away with one against Ibaka. He was left wide open for a three in the final minute, but the shot rimmed out:

As the first two plays demonstrate, Morris deserves a lot of credit for the Wizards' success against Ibaka. He has the size and mobility to keep up with him and is willing to use contact to his advantage.

"Just playing the tendencies," Morris said. "We're making them do things they are uncomfortable with and are getting better results."

Ibaka was fourth on the Raptors this season in points per game and third in shot attempts. He is their third option behind All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. If the Wizards can continue to lock up Ibaka, it will be difficult for the Raptors to beat them.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller were joined by Julie Donaldson to break down the Wizards' wins in Games 3 and 4.

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat are back and the Wizards are a different team because of it. Plus, how regaining their Death Row D.C. mentality has changed this series.

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!