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Morning tip: 3 reasons why Wizards will/won't make playoffs

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Morning tip: 3 reasons why Wizards will/won't make playoffs

Thirty-one games are left, and there are plenty of reasons to believe the Wizards will or won't make the postseason. They have three consecutive games out of the All-Star break, starting Thursday vs. the Utah Jazz, Friday vs. the Detroit Pistons and Saturday at the Miami Heat. 

The game with Utah is a makeup from a postponement due to a snowstorm as teams don't play back-to-back-to-back games. Come out of the gates with a losing record and it's difficult to see how the Wiz

Why they will make the playoffs:

  • Every game, except maybe at the Golden State Warriors and at the L.A. Clippers, is winnable. Three more meetings with the NBA's worst, the Philadelphia 76ers, two left vs. the Brooklyn Nets, two vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves, vs the Knicks, Kings and Suns. Even the Atlanta Hawks, not nearly the same team they were a year ago, are beatable with three meetings left. 
  • Bradley Beal is back in the starting lineup after having his minutes dialed back because of a minutes restriction after another stress reaction in his lower right leg. Beal has sank 10 of his last 18 three-point shots. He should be better as long as he doesn't end up back on the injured list. Therefore, the Wizards will be better.
  • It's hard to believe, but Alan Anderson should be playing soon. Coach Randy Wittman hasn't given any detailed updates on his status, but the eye test is sufficient. Anderson (left ankle) is not only doing more each day, he's doing individual work that's putting extreme pressure on his leg. He's doing full workouts. The only thing he hasn't done yet is actual contact in practice. This is the healthiest this roster has been all season.

Why they won't make the playoffs:

  • Reality is, this is a terrible defensive team and they are what their record (23-28) says they are. They might have a lot of games left vs. bad teams, but so far they've proven to be a bad team. Last in rebounding (39.8), last in three-point defense (37.8%) and last in overall field-goal accuracy allowed (47.1%).
  • Beal can play lights out and John Wall can continue on his torrid pace and probably will reach 40 double-doubles. But who's the No. 3 scoring option? It's supposed to be Otto Porter, who has been playing with a tear in the cartilage in his hip. His 31.7% accuracy from three-point range won't cut it and it's a step down from what he shot last season. 
  • In-game adjustments don't come as quickly as needed, and several players -- Wall and Jared Dudley in particular -- have pointed out this at times. They don't trap the ball out of the hot player's hands as quickly as they should. Why leave Kris Humphries matched up with C.J. Miles when he's on fire from three-point range? Why stick with Gary Neal so long when he's allowing more points than he's making in fourth quarters? That responsibility falls on coach Randy Wittman, who contends his team isn't always putting for the maximum effort defensively. It's only if they can put for that effort that he then can make the necessary adjustments. It's a chicken-vs.-egg equation. If they're all not on the same page now, they never will be. 

I've gone on record already that they will make the cut, but by no means will it be easy. They're four games in the loss column behind the No. 4 seed Hawks and the No. 5 Heat. 

So a No. 8 seed, two games in the loss column from the Charlotte Hornets for the final spot, is manageable. It's just that with expectations so high coming into the season, having this discussion of will they or won't they is beyond surprising. It's unacceptable.

To be sure they're in, the Wizards probably have to go 21-10 to end the season. That would put them at 44 wins, two fewer than a season ago. 

MORE WIZARDS: Grading out: Where Gary Neal stands at All-Star break

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2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Saturday Night is here with the three-point contest, dunk contest and skills competition set for Los Angeles.

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

2018 NBA ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Skills competition

Participants: Lou Williams, Clippers; Jamal Murray, Nuggets; Al Horford, Celtics; Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets; Joel Embiid, Sixers; Buddy Hield, Kings; Lauri Markkanen, Bulls; Andre Drummond, Pistons

What to know: This year's crop has a fascinating mix of guards and big men and don't sleep on the seven-footers. Embiid in particular has a unique skillset for his size. Still, it's tough to beat the guards. Watch out for Dinwiddie, who is the best passer of the bunch.

RELATED: BETTING ODDS FOR DUNK CONTEST, THREE-POINT CONTEST

Three-point contest

Participants: Klay Thompson, Warriors; Eric Gordon, Rockets; Devin Booker, Suns; Paul George, Thunder; Wayne Ellington, Heat; Bradley Beal, Wizards; Kyle Lowry, Raptors; Tobias Harris, Clippers

What to know: Thompson and Gordon enter the contest as past champions, as Thompson won it in 2016 and Gordon took it home last year. Thompson has the best three-point percentage among the group and is the favorite, but watch out for Beal, a past runner-up, and George who has the second best percentage. Also, Booker is one of the game's best young players and has a very smooth stroke from three.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Dunk contest

Participants: Dennis Smith Jr.; Mavericks; Donovan Mitchell, Jazz; Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers; Victor Oladipo, Pacers

What to know: This is all about the rookies, Smith and Mitchell, who most are predicting to win. Oladipo has been in the contest before, but didn't win. He's also the only All-Star of the bunch. Nance is the only guy who isn't a guard and his father won it back in 1984. It will be interesting to see if he does some sort of nod to his old man, now 34 years later.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

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Looking back at the most memorable Wizards/Bullets moments on All-Star Saturday Night

Looking back at the most memorable Wizards/Bullets moments on All-Star Saturday Night

With Bradley Beal set for the three-point contest at the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend, let's take a look back at some of the most memorable moments for Wizards and Bullets players on All-Star Saturday night.

The franchise can boast past winners of the three-point and dunk contest, but there have also been some crushing defeats.

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

2014 DUNK CONTEST: WALL STEALS THE SHOW

John Wall has accomplished a lot in his career and that includes a dunk contest title back in 2014, the only dunk contest won by a Wizards or Bullets player. Wall took home the crown amid a crowded field of participants, the last dunk contest that featured six players: Paul George, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Ben McLemore and Terrence Ross. Ross was the defending champion. 

Wall dropped the mic with a dunk over former Wizards mascot 'G-Man.' After the dunk, he famously did the Nae Nae dance with George.

2014 THREE-POINT CONTEST: BEAL COMES IN SECOND

On Saturday night, Beal will do his best to avenge the loss he took in his first stab at the three-point contest. Beal fell just short in a stacked group that included former winners Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

The winner was Marco Belinelli, who needed a bonus round to finish it off. That was because Beal hit his final six shots in the last round to force an overtime round. It was one of the closest three-point contests ever.

RELATED: BEAL A HEAVY UNDERDOG IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

1996 THREE-POINT CONTEST: LEGLER WINS IT ALL

The Wizards do have one three-point contest winner, Tim Legler who captured the crown in 1996. Many may know Legler for his broadcasting career, but he was a very good shooter in 10 NBA seasons, four of which were in Washington. 

Legler beat out some of the best sharpshooters of the 90s including Dennis Scott, Steve Kerr, Glen Rice and Hubert Davis. Legler tried to defend his crown the following year, but lost out to Kerr.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

2011 DUNK CONTEST: MCGEE WAS ROBBED

Wall was the only Wizards player to win the dunk contest, but an argument could be made that JaVale McGee should have won it back in 2011. That was the year Blake Griffin won the title by jumping over a car. Griffin jumped over the hood, which many said wasn't exactly the same as jumping over the highest point of the car. I, who have approximately an 11-inch vertical leap, thought it was a bunch of malarkey.

That's not why McGee was robbed, though. He was robbed because Serge Ibaka appeared to steal his dunk. Video surfaced ahead of the contest of McGee practicing a dunk where he did a windmill slam while grabbing a piece of paper from the net with his mouth. Ibaka then did a very similar dunk in the contest itself. McGee admitted in an interview during the contest that Ibaka did the same dunk, so he had to switch it up. Who knows what would have happened if McGee did it instead of Ibaka. McGee, however, still put on a show including one slam where he dunked two basketballs.

RELATED: 

2007 THREE-POINT CONTEST: ARENAS COMES UP SHORT

Gilbert Arenas had a tough run in the three-point contest, as he finished as the runner-up in back-to-back years, 2006 and 2007. He lost to Dirk Nowitzki in 2006 and Jason Kapono in 2007.

It was in 2007, though, that Arenas wore the Wizards' gold alternate jersey (they were awesome, don't let anyone tell you differently) and finished the final round shooting threes one-handed once he realized he had lost. Arenas was one of the best personalities in the NBA at the time and that was on full display.