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Morning tip: Finally healthy, Wizards look to pounce


Morning tip: Finally healthy, Wizards look to pounce

Two years ago, the Wizards sat two games under .500 after the All-Star break. They returned to win 19 of their next 30 to make the playoffs for the first time in six years and stormed into the conference semifinals. Starting Thursday, the task is more steep as they near maximum health with the possible return of Alan Anderson while key teams in the East above them are limping to the finish line.  

"It's very, very open. You go all the way up to Boston, then you have Atlanta. (Tiago) Splitter is out for the year," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the Hawks' backup center. "There's been a lot of talk they'll do something between now and (Thursday). You got Chicago with some injury problems. Jimmy (Butler) is going to miss some time. There's some chatter there with them doing something. There's an opportunity there for us. We're getting to the point to where we're close to being as healthy as we've been all year. We're not there yet but we're close. Opportunity is there for us. What are we going to do with it? Dedicate for eight weeks and 31 games and see where we can take it."

As a 10th seed, the Wizards (23-28) are five in the loss column behind the No. 3 Boston Celtics and trailing the No. 4 Hawks by four in the loss column. They've also got the most games left to play (31) with three consecutive games starting tonight vs. the Utah Jazz (rescheduled because of a blizzard), Friday vs. the Detroit Pistons and Saturday at the Miami Heat. 

Anderson (left ankle) practiced for the first time Wednesday and said he could be available to play. Otto Porter (right hip) needed the week off to let the tear in the cartilage calm his discomfort and Gary Neal (right leg) had to benefit as well. Time off only could help Nene (left calf) and Drew Gooden (right calf), both of whom have been available recently but missed time because of flare-ups. Bradley Beal (right leg/broken nose) could replenish as well as the recently returned Kris Humphries (right knee).

Wittman is going to have to decided who to deactivate come tip-off, with the best guesses being DeJuan Blair and Jarell Eddie provided that all 15 players are physically able to play.

"It's a good problem if you look at it as a problem. I don't look at it as that," Wittman said. "If I can get 15 guys healthy, Jiminy Christmas. ... Usually you got to pick a couple of guys to sit out. I haven't had to do that one time this year. I'm looking forward for that day. I'm going to walk in (the locker room) and be happy. They might not be happy. I'm going to be happy to go in there and say, 'You can't play today.'"

Most of the adjustments have to come from the defensive end, where the Wizards are the worst in the NBA at rebounding and defending the perimeter. 

"Can we defend, get stops and rebound the ball? That's got to be our focus these last 31 games," Wittman said. "That's how this team wins when we win."

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards weigh options: Potential trade targets and soon-to-expire DPE

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

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!