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Morning tip: The case for Wizards bringing Beal off the bench

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Morning tip: The case for Wizards bringing Beal off the bench

When Bradley Beal returns -- and that could be in a few weeks or longer (probably longer based on his injury history) -- the Wizards should strongly consider bringing him off the bench.

That might be a bitter pill to swallow for a player of his caliber when he is healthy. Beal is the Wizards' best scorer and warrants double- and triple-teams because opponents fear him getting hot. Next to John Wall, they make for one of the NBA's most lethal backcourts.

But it may be time to switch up and there are good reasons for it:

  • This is Beal's fourth consecutive season with a stress reaction in his lower right leg, on the small, non-weight-bearing bone (fibula). The dark spot that appeared on the MRI over the weekend is smaller than the previous three but this is troublesome. Beal will be under a minutes restriction when he returns and he'll be held to 30 minutes per game maximum based on previous limits place on him.

  • Coach Randy Wittman has been in this difficult position before, tasked with winning games and needing his best players out there in crunch time but having to pull Beal late because he has reached his limit after starting. This is particularly a problem when a game goes into overtime (and this has happened). Bringing him off the bench saves Beal for when the Wizards need him most and he'd be on the floor with Wall. Even if he's not playing well he commands so much attention that it opens the floor for everyone else when buckets are hardest to come by.

  • The Wizards are 3-2 with Garrett Temple in the starting lineup. Temple will get his share of wide-open looks and can hit threes and he has good chemistry with Wall. It puts more pressure on Wall offensively, but defensively Temple can cover more ground. If Otto Porter can shoot like he did with a career-high 28 points vs. Dallas, it allows Temple to do what he does best -- defend. The Wizards were 7-2 with Temple starting for Beal last season when he was out with a wrist fracture. If more offensive punch is needed, switch to Gary Neal. 

  • Beal is at his best when he's slicing and getting to the rim, not simply settling for jump shots. He had 21 assists in the three games that Wall missed in last season's playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged six free throw attempts, too. He can do even more of this when his minutes are controlled. In Beal's last seven games played, with the Wizards losing bodies left and right to injury, he logged 41, 42, 38, 38, 41, 40 and 39. His 36.5 minutes average was a career-high and three more than last season. 

  • If the Wizards are ever able to get healthy again with Nene (calf), Drew Gooden (calf) and especially Alan Anderson (ankle) who has yet to play a game, taking this path with Beal will be easier. He had his heart set on being an All-Star for the first time but that has to be put on hold. The Wizards need him at maximum efficiency to make another run at the playoffs and Beal needs to be healthy so he can prove he's a max player in time for free agency next summer. Maybe if the Wizards can get to the postseason again, after Beal has been preserved, he can go back to starter's minutes.

RELATED: OPEN THREAD: Is Bradley Beal worth max money?

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The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

WASHINGTON -- As the home team in a dire situation you have to take advantage, and that is exactly what the Washington Wizards did in their 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Highlight reel play after highlight reel play, the Wizards ignited the crowd with some of their best plays from the entire season to make it 2-2 in the series. Here are just a few of them:

1. John Wall collects posters in the first half

The first one was perhaps the best. Everything was going wrong for the Wizards, poor turnovers, bad shots, a three from Toronto. Then John Wall had enough. Not only did he fly past his defender Kyle Lowry, but he went up and slammed one home past the 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. Up until that point, the Wizards were shooting 1-for-7.

Rinse and repeat, except this time Jakob Poeltl was Wall’s victim.

2. Wall to Beal alley-oop in transition

With the Wizards’ offense faltering, the Raptors remained on the verge of blowing the game open throughout the second quarter. But with a steal from Otto Porter Jr., Wall hung up the ball for Bradley Beal to slam home. The alley-oop kept the Wizards within single digits in the second with an uninspiring offensive effort.

3. Otto Porter breaks out of the half

A subdued offensive start to the game was due in part to the production from Porter. In the first half he went 0-for-4 with one point in nearly 17 minutes of action.

Throw that away in the second half. He broke out of halftime with back-to-back threes and 10 of the Wizards’ 26 in a monster 26-14 run to take the lead back in the third.

He finished the quarter with 10 points, an assist, and two blocks.

4. The Polish Hammer throwing it home

Are you convinced yet that Marcin Gortat’s new haircut is doing him some good? Gortat squeezed through two Raptors’ defenders, threw it down, gave a Goliath-type roar to the crowd before officially bringing the hammer down. 

5. Beal being called for his sixth foul of the game

Agree with the call or not, there is no denying that Beal’s removal from the game lit a fire underneath the Wizards. From that point Washington went on a 14-6 scoring run to end the game, closing out for the win.

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WIZARDS DOMINATED GAME 3 BECAUSE EVERYONE ATE... LITERALLY

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Second-half eruption leads Wizards to pivotal Game 4 win over Raptors

Second-half eruption leads Wizards to pivotal Game 4 win over Raptors

The Washington Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 106-98 in Game 4 of their first round playoff series on Sunday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Brand new series: After going down 0-2, most may have written the Wizards off knowing the near-insurmountable odds of coming back not only from that deficit but as an eight-seed going up against the best team in the Eastern Conference. It would have been understandable to doubt these Wizards who have for so much of this season allowed teams to bully them to an uncharacteristic degree.

With another win in Game 4, however, the Wizards have recalibrated this series.. Not only did the Wizards even things up, they ensured at least one more home game where they have now won eight straight in the postseason.

Beal fouled out: The Wizards were dealt a tough blow with 4:58 left as Bradley Beal picked up his sixth foul and was bounced from the game. 

Not only was Beal dominating with a team-high 31 points, but the sixth foul was very questionable. He made contact with DeMar DeRozan inadvertently and it is tough to see how he could have avoided it.

Here is the play:

That should simply not be called in that moment. It was a crucial development and both Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were understandably furious. If the Wizards had lost, that would have been a major reason why. There is no excuse for referees to impact a game like that.

Sluggish start: Outside of John Wall (27 points, 14 assists, six rebounds) and Beal, who had 12 points and 11 points in the first half, the rest of the Wizards' team was slow-moving early on. The team shot just 34 percent in the first half, 16-for-47, and 1-for-7 from three. They even missed their free throws, going 7-for-13 in the first two quarters.

The Raptors did a good job putting pressure on the, but only Wall and Beal were able to break through. Otto Porter, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds, had one point in the first half. Markieff Morris (six points, five rebounds) had four points at the break.

Even Mike Scott, who has had a huge series, went scoreless in the first half. That was partly due to him getting in early foul trouble.

The Raptors were particularly good at stopping the Wizards in transition. Despite committing 11 turnovers in the first half, they won the fastbreak point advantage 17-4. That was a big point of emphasis coming out of Game 3 according to head coach Dwane Casey and his players followed the lead.

Big third quarter: The Wizards' offense was not held down for long as they came out of the gate on fire in the second half. Beal and Porter led the charge.

Porter erupted for 10 points in the frame. Beal got hot from three and scored 12. The only thing that stopped Beal was foul trouble, as he picked up his fourth personal with just under five minutes left in the quarter and later left with six.

The third quarter shooting numbers overall were impressive. The Wizards shot 15-for-23 (65.2%) from the field and 5-for-6 (83.3%) from three. That'll do.

The Wizards outscored the Raptors 40-29 in the third. It was their biggest postseason quarter since last year's Game 4 against the Celtics. That was when they went on an absured 26-0 run.

Hella free throws: Many people blamed the refs for the Wizards' loss in Game 1, though the numbers didn't back up that claim. If Wizards fans wanted to gripe about Game 4, they had a better case for a while in this one.

It was kind of ridiculous, especially early on. The Raptors shot 30 free throws in the game compared to 31 for the Wizards, so it evened out.  But Toronto shot 16 free throws in the first quarter alone and 12 of them were attempted by DeRozan. He is one of the best in the business at drawing fouls, but that a bit extreme.

DeRozan, in fact, finished the first quarter with nine points and all of them were at the free throw line. He was 0-for-5 from field goal range. 

When DeRozan is getting to the line, he can control games and early on that was the case in this one. He set a new playoff career high with 18 attempts and made 14 of them.

The refs called the game much tighter than they did previously in this series. Perhaps that was a response to the chippiness in Game 3.

Three-point defense: Stopping the Raptors from hitting threes has been a major key all series. In Game 4, the Wizards did their best job yet.

Washington held the Raptors to seven threes, their fewest three-pointers since Feb. 4. The Raptors had made 12 threes or more in each of the first three games this series.

After going 5-for-10 from long range in the first half, the Raptors went 2-for-8 in the second. If the Wizards can play defense like that, it will be tough for Toronto to win this series.

Up next: The series moves on to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington with pregame coverage beginning with Wizards HangTime at 6 p.m.

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