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Morning tip: How Celtics flipped the script on Wizards in Game 5

Morning tip: How Celtics flipped the script on Wizards in Game 5

BOSTON -- The way the pendulum swings decisively from one side to the other in the East semifinals between the Wizards and Boston Celtics continues as each game is decided by large margins. Game 5, won 123-101 by the home team at TD Garden, wasn't any different. 

The Wizards kept Isaiah Thomas to fewer than 20 points for the third game in a row, but the result was different because the role players such as Avery Bradley (29 points), Jae Crowder (18) and Al Horford (19) made them pay.

"They had a lot of energy coming out in the first quarter," Markieff Morris said after his Wizards took a 4-0 lead only to submit to a 16-0 run by Boston. "They adjusted a little bit and by the time we picked up what they was doing they already had a 16-point lead.

"They were leaking out. They made an adjustment when the ball goes up. ... We're going to make that adjustment. We made it in the game and we stopped it but we were already down 16."

The Wizards smothered Thomas who was just 5-for-13 shooting but created better with nine assists. The shooters around him were open. And if they weren't spotting up around the three-point arc they were getting Boston out to a 15-0 edge in fast-break points.

"We took shots. We didn't do a great job of getting back," John Wall said. "Our guards and bigs didn't do a grat job of getting back and they were just running out for layups and threes."

The Wizards' transition defense was in shambles from the start. Otto Porter took Bradley as he pushed the ball up the floor and Wall didn't position himself to cut off Crowder's angle to the basket on the cut. Bradley made a simple pass for a layup and a 13-4 lead. 

Thomas, who is 5-9, set a pindown screen on Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal to clear the real estate for Horford to step into a three-pointer. These breakdowns came in the first quarter, so fatigue can't be blamed. It was lack of focus.

Every time Wall drove, his defender (Bradley) would hand him off to the bigs in the paint and then he'd sprint to the other end for the outlet. No one shifted to the top to cover Wall upon his dribble penetration to prevent it. 

"They kind of surprised us," Wall said. "They made adjustments. It's something they must've seen ont he film and they killed us in the first quarter."

Morris didn't like how disengaged they were without allowing cutters off the ball to get unobstructed to the rim. When the ball is being trapped out of Thomas' hands, it's inevitable that seams will be created behind the defense. That's where the weak spot is going to be but second effort and recovery can close those off.

"We (weren't) physical enough. We were letting guys cut through the lane without touching them," Morris said. "We know they were going to do that. We were prepaared for that. We did a great job on I.T. but we let too many guys make plays and make shots."

Beal didn't make any of his four three-point attempts. The Celtics had nine more makes from long range with 16, giving them 27 more points than the Wizards in that category. 

"They're doing a good job of changing up their defense a little bit," Beal said. "Try to put I.T. on me a little bit, kind of throw the rhythm of the game off. We take him into the post, we try to hit him and run him off screens as much as possible but they do a good job of knowing my ball screens. They're up, the weakside is pulled over. Isolations? The same thing, the weakside is pulled over. We got to move, get the ball moving. Myself included."

The series heads back to Verizon Center for Game 6 on Friday. If the Wizards can force Game 7, it'll be Monday here. The Wizards would have to win at a venue where they've been unsuccessful since 2014 to advance to the conference finals.

"They beat our ass," Morris said. "We just beat their ass two times in a row. It comes with the game."

[RELATED: Celtics fans chant Oubre's name during Game 5]

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do. 

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

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

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

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


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



Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets


Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves


Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.


Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.


Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.