Quick Links

Morning tip: Wall cites effort as key to winning road trip


Morning tip: Wall cites effort as key to winning road trip

The first real test for the Wizards came when they had four games in five nights and failed miserably. They lost each, including three by double-digits. They're in the middle of their second serious test and have a chance to come out with a winning record on the road against Western Conference teams if they can beat the Memphis Grizzlies tonight (CSN+, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 8 p.m. ET).

That would put the Wizards at 2-1 with the final game coming Wednesday at the San Antonio Spurs, who they beat 102-99 at Verizon Center earlier this season. Such a run would be significant because the Wizards (10-12) not only would be back at .500 but they will have accomplished it without starting shooting guard Bradley Beal who is out at least until Christmas.

"Yes," John Wall said, after the Wizards lost a game they had in hand vs. the New Orleans Pelicans and before defeating the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, about winning the next three. "Without Brad here, if we compete like we did tonight, we give ourselves a chance. Guys got to make plays. To be in this league, to be a star, you have to be able to make plays down the stretch. I missed some shots. A couple guys missed some shots but we had looks that we like. They making shots and we missing shots we're going to lose the game in the fourth quarter no matter what the lead is."

The Wizards blew a 97-90 fourth-quarter lead to the Pelicans before losing 107-105. They led by 21 in Dallas and still had a double-digit lead with less than four minutes left only to tighten up down the stretch. Wall's free throws kept the Wizards at a distance to win 114-111.

The quicker-pace offense is working for the Wizards. Defensively, however, they're taken a significant step backward particularly when it comes to three-point shooting allowed.

"Offensively we're doing well. We're scoring over 100 points a game which is good for us," said Garrett Temple, who replaced Beal in the starting lineup. "If we play the defense we're capable of, that we've been playing for the last few years. We haven't been that's why we're under .500."

The expectation that the Wizards would be as good on defense as they've been the last three seasons, when they were top 10 in fewest points allowed, might not be realistic. The extra scoring punch, in theory, should make up for that difference. But without Beal (leg), Nene (calf), Drew Gooden (calf), Alan Anderson (ankle) and Kris Humphries (ankle) they don't have as many scoring options.

The Wizards have given up at least 100 points in their last seven games. They're 3-4.

"We're not a team that can try to outscore people. We tried it so far this season. It rarely happens. We always end up losing them close games when we should be winning," Wall said. "It also gets back to we got to make plays, make shots in the fourth quarter. When we beat Miami, we beat Cleveland we made threes in the fourth quarter at least three or four. The games we lose against Houston, we probably make one out of six, one out of seven. You got to be able to make those shots because those teams are making them. It's defending. We know what it is."

MORE WIZARDS: It's Wittman's job to make Wizards' pace-and-space work

Quick Links

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!