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Key adjustment for Wizards: Backcourt backups for John Wall, Bradley Beal

Key adjustment for Wizards: Backcourt backups for John Wall, Bradley Beal

In three of the last four years, the Wizards have exited the playoffs in the conference semifinals. What have they lacked to get over the hump to make the conference finals?

In 2014, it was another creator off the dribble. All they had was Bradley Beal, who was in his second season and not nearly as diverse as he is now, and a limited catch-and-shoot three-point specialist in Trevor Ariza. The Indiana Pacers realized this and exploited the weakness, clogged the paint to keep out John Wall and their series was over in six games.

The following season it was Paul Pierce in place of Ariza and at a more salary-cap friendly pricetag. He had the three-point range but also the mid-range game that Ariza lacked to pull up. That six-game series loss to the Atlanta Hawks could be directly attributed, however, to Wall's broken left hand and wrist that cost him three games. 

This past May, in a seven-game series loss to the Boston Celtics, the Wizards faced a team that had multiple strong defenders in Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder. To have the best chance, Wall and Beal couldn't have any let up and had to be on every game.

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Short of having a Big 3, and with their salary cap constraints, they'll have to compensate by strengthening other spots on the roster:

Corrective action: Backcourt backups.

The fallout: Wall and Beal had their best seasons as professionals, though both were on fumes the last time out. Wall shot 8-for-23 in a Game 7 loss to Boston after playing 44 of 48 minutes. In the previous game, he logged 42.  Beal played 43 and 46 minutes in the last two games.

The departed: Trey Burke; Brandon Jennings

The fixes: Tim Frazier and TBA.

The first move president Ernie Grunfeld made with the roster after a 49-win season was trade their No. 52 pick in last week’s draft for a proven backup to Wall.

This is where Frazier enters. Because of salary-cap constraints, there’s was only so much that could be done. His contract is just $2 million and he should be a much more reliable backup than Burke or Jennings.

Even in the first regular-season game, the Wizards complained that they couldn’t hear or understand Burke’s play calls. It either was because his voice wasn’t loud enough at Phillips Arena vs. the Atlanta Hawks or he was unsure of himself.

When you’re a point guard and the coach determines you’re better off not running the offense, that’s problematic. Jennings played with more pace and confidence but the shooting was absent. He also couldn’t defend the position.  

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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