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Grading the Southeast division: Small forwards

Grading the Southeast division: Small forwards

We've talked about all the various changes made by the Wizards this offseason - or really since they made the move for Nene last season. Now we look at how the local NBA team stacks up with its Southeast Division rivals, position by position. We started with the floor generals, shooting guardsand centers. Now, the small forwards. The Wizards had the top option in two of those previous three positions. We can end the suspense, they won't here, not with some talented guy in South Beach reigning supreme (2011-12 stats listed)...

Atlanta Josh Smith...18.8 points,9.6 rebounds, 1.7blocks...One of the true stat-stuffers in the league, Smith has the opportunity to put up more points now that Joe Johnson has moved on. It also means the career 25.7 3-point shooter can hoist from distance more freely. For the Hawks to maintain their status as a perennial top-four seed in the East, they need the all-court Smith, not the deep chucker version.

Charlotte Michael Kidd-Gilchrist...11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.0 steals at Kentucky...The Bobcats added a trio of veterans this offseason, but none of them block the starting lineup path of this high-energy wing. The bulk of Kidd-Gilchrist's rookie year potential stems from his intangibles-heavy game and not from his work-in-progress of a perimeter shot. Defensively and in the open court he should make an impact. Whether the Bobcats utter woefulness will allow said impact to shine through this season is the question.

Miami LeBron James...27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds,6.2 assists...This just in: LeBron has skills. Scariest part of the upcoming NBA season is seeing what this physical freak of nature can do now that the weight of world is off his massive shoulders following the Heat's championship.

Orlando Hedo Turkoglu...10.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assistsThe one salary the Magic wanted to dump remains in Orlando. At least the 33-year-old's point-forward skill set should help the patchwork roster find its way. Of course, the way is likely out of the playoffs for the first time in a while. The Magic can also turn to the slashing Quentin Richardson and the intriguing rookie out of St. John's, Moe Harkless.

Washington Trevor Ariza...10.8 points,5.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals...We all know why the Wizards made the move for Ariza and Emeka Okafor: Defense and veteran presence. The 27-year-old will also serve as an ideal fast-breaking wingman to John Wall and his position flexibility means Randy Wittman can turn the lengthy forward into a defensive guard should the likesof Dwyane Wade and Aaron Afflalo overpower the Wizards backcourt. Like Josh Smith, Ariza must avoid falling in love with the 3-point shot. Outside of his championship run with the Lakers, the career 31.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc has never mastered that distance yet enjoys trying. Still not sure how the minutes work behind Ariza with Chris Singleton, Cartier Martin, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and the reportedly signed Martell Webster all in the mix for backup minutes.

And the winner is...Come on; do I need to say it? Beyond James, Smith is the only other All-Star in the bunch, but it will be interesting to see how the at times frustrating forward handles more responsibility. Assuming Ariza settles into a complimentary offensive roll behind Wall, Nene and the Jordan CrawfordBradley Beal off-guard slot, he's got third over the likeable rookie.

Rank: 1)James 2)Smith 3)Ariza 4)Kidd-Gilchrist 5) Turkoglu

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Series: Raptors lead 2-0
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Do or die

If the Wizards lose on Friday night, the series will technically not be over. They will be down 0-3 with a home game up next and an opportunity to extend their season and send it all back to Toronto. That said, the odds would not be good. In fact, they would be pretty much as bad as they can be.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from down 0-3 in a series. So, unless the Wizards feel like they can make history, like UMBC over Virginia history, then they better win Game 3. 

Now, some teams have come close to making it happen. Three times before a team has gone down 0-3 and forced seven games. The last time was the 2003 Blazers, who fell in Game 7 to the Mavs. 

Recovering from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series has happened in both baseball and hockey, most famously in 2004 when the Red Sox beat the Yankees to reach the World Series. At some point it will happen in basketball, but the chances are essentially next-to-none. The Wizards will be much better off by winning Game 3, just like they did last year when they went down 0-2 against the Celtics in the second round and forced a Game 7.

Beal and Otto

The Wizards are hoping to see more from both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. It was a big topic of discussion at Thursday's practice how both guys need to be more aggressive in looking for their own shot. Beal was held to just nine points in Game 2 and Porter, the NBA's third-best three-point shooter, didn't even attempt one three.

Brooks held a meeting with Beal and John Wall to discuss how they can get Beal more opportunities, but ultimately it's up to him and Porter to force the issue for themselves. It would seem likely at least one of them breaks out in Game 3. They both were great against the Raptors during the regular season and both proved throughout the year that they can score against anybody.

Too many threes

The biggest reason the Wizards are down 0-2 in this series is the three-point shot. The Raptors have hit a ton of them and even though the Wizards have been intent on stopping them, they have had no such luck.

The Raptors hit 16 threes in the first game to set a playoff franchise record. They shot 51.7 percent from long range. In Game 2, they hit 13 and 11 were in the first half. They made seven of them in the first quarter alone to the tune of 44 points, the worst defensive quarter in the playoffs in Wizards franchise history since 1965.

This is how much the three-point shot matters: the Raptors' 11 first-half threes in Game 2 helped them outscore the Wizards by 18 points by halftime, but in the second half when they hit only two threes, the Wizards edged them by seven points. Washington has to stop the three-pointer, it's that simple.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards hope meeting between superstar backcourt can jumpstart Bradley Beal's playoff production

Wizards hope meeting between superstar backcourt can jumpstart Bradley Beal's playoff production

With an 0-2 deficit in their first-round playoff series against the Raptors, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks called for a meeting with his two All-Star guards once his team returned to Washington. Brooks met with John Wall and Bradley Beal, hoping to solve an issue that plagued them particularly in Game 2, a blowout loss.

Brooks is intent on getting more out of Beal offensively and since Wall is the quarterback of their offense, it made sense to have him present. After Beal scored nine points and shot just 3-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from three, it is clear to Brooks that the Wizards need more to climb back in this series.

"We need to have Brad play well. It's no secret that you need your best players to step up and play well," Brooks said.

Both Brooks and Wall, who each spoke after Thursday's practice, said Beal needs to be more assertive in the offense. Beal averaged 28.8 points against the Raptors through four regular season games and Wall did not play in any of them. In theory, things should be easier for him now with another star player drawing attention.

That has not been the case, however. Beal is averaging 14.0 points through two games while shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three. 

Even if his shot isn't falling, the Wizards want Beal to force the issue.

"I feel like I tell him at times that he needs to be more aggressive. Be more aggressive and look for your shot," Wall said. "He even says it that he has to be more aggressive himself. Even if he's missing or making shots. That's how he's been all season. We need that same type of player, to be aggressive and get at least 20 shots or more per game. That's when our team is probably at our best."

Beal has been limited to 14 shots per game by the Raptors when he averaged 18.1 during the regular season. Wall said he and Beal often talk within games about how Beal would like to be set up and the meeting with Brooks involved some of that dialogue.

While Beal's struggles stand out, the same could be said for Otto Porter, the Wizards' third-leading scorer. Porter was held to 12 points in Game 2 and did not attempt a single three-pointer. For a guy who finished third in the NBA in three-point percentage (44.1), that is difficult to justify.

Like Beal, the Wizards need Porter to impose his will a bit more and according to Brooks, the right lower leg strain he suffered late in the regular season is not to blame.

"He's 100 percent healthy," Brooks said. "It's always been a little bit of a problem. We want Otto to be more aggressive. We gotta run some more plays for him and the defense has done a good job on him. We need him to play well."

Like Beal, Porter had success against Toronto in the regular season. He averaged 18.5 points on 59.2 percent shooting, including a 24-point game on March 2. 

The Wizards need Beal and Porter to step up, knowing the series could hinge on if they do.





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