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Morning tip: How to get by without Bradley Beal

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Morning tip: How to get by without Bradley Beal

Back-to-back loses aren't allowed for the Wizards given where they are in the standings which is outside the playoff picture in the East. After an off-day, they'll travel Monday to begin a three-game road trip out West. The pressure mounts on John Wall.

“It’s not really about the three coming up, it’s about having the tiebreaker against them," Wall said Saturday, after a 100-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers which cost them the season series. "We would’ve been a half-game behind them, but if we had won this game we really would have been a game ahead of them because we would have the tiebreaker. It’s a situation where there was an opportunity for us to take advantage of.”

It's a familiar story for the Wizards (30-32), who had the crutch of injuries to lean on as they've struggled to get above .500 for the first time since Nov. 24.

Bradley Beal went down with a pelvic injury in the third quarter and didn't return. The Wizards blew a 14-point lead and exactly what will Beal's availability will be for this road trip is uncertain. He's expected to travel with the team but be listed as questionable.

“I know he’s frustrated," said Wall. "He’s been coming off the bench most of the time he’s been back and putting a lot of work in to come back and be healthy and help this team make a final playoff push."

So let's assume Beal isn't able to play all three games, or even at all, what are the Wizards to do? Garrett Temple is a defensive option at shooting guard and hasn't played well since the All-Star break though his 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting vs. the Pacers was a step in the right direction.

There's are a few options to consider that might see radical, or even far-fetched, but at this point the Wizards have to change the narrative starting with Tuesday's game at the Portland Trail Blazers (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 10 ET):

  • Instead of predictably plugging in Temple in Beal's place, what about Otto Porter? He has played some at the two spot and is a good enough defender for the position and clearly needs a change of scenery given his recent struggles. 

  • Start Alan Anderson, left ankle permitting, at small forward. He has the three-point range, which Porter has lacked, strength and tenacity defensively to bother players on the wing.

  • Move up rookie Kelly Oubre, who has been out of the rotation, behind Anderson as the backup small forward. This would be a major risk because getting his game legs back under him for mostly sitting all of this time will be a challenge. Oubre's individual defense is OK as long as he avoids the cheap fouls but it's his team defense, missing rotations which was a problem for Porter when he was a rookie, too, that has kept him nailed to the bench. 

  • Jared Dudley is the backup power forward and is a stretch option. Playing him at small forward sounds like a good idea but it's not really. Smaller, quicker players are at that position and putting him there would break down the defense. His minutes have decreased significantly now that Markieff Morris is the starter so if Dudley isn't hot instantly there probably has to be a quicker hook for him. If a more physical player with size is needed to just battle inside, that's why J.J. Hickson was added to the bench.
  • Back to Porter, he had some success playing at the four spot before the All-Star break. A few of his best games have come from there so why not go back to it? He scored his career high (28 vs. Dallas) as a power forward. His quickness will cause matchup problems for those who guard him there. He'll need help, however, if he's being posted up on the other end. 

 

[RELATED: Wizards lose Bradley Beal to another injury from hard fall]

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making players and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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