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Morning tip: What’s happening with Bradley Beal?


Morning tip: What’s happening with Bradley Beal?

NEW ORLEANS -- Usually when the Wizards are going off the rail, they'll all say the proper things about what it takes to get back on track. But this exercise is clearly not setting well with Bradley Beal, who doesn’t have the same disposition as he has had in the past.

In his fourth season, and a contact year as he will become a restricted free agent next summer, he has been in a rut for weeks and there are no signs that he’s getting out of it anytime soon.

Complicating matters is what happened Wednesday, when Beal had seven turnovers in a 109-103 loss to the Houston Rockets and shot 5 of 15 from the field. He was indecisive and not accepting the double-teams as well as he should. Tonight, they're facing the New Orleans Pelicans (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 7:30 ET).

"He played not aggressive. Too soft," coach Randy Wittman said. "That's what happens. You get seven turnovers."

Except for a 34-point outburst he had last week in a win against the Phoenix Suns, Beal hasn't been the same since returning Nov. 21 from the left shoulder contusion that kept him out two weeks He's shooting 22-for-58 in his last three games, or 38%. That includes 6-for-17 on three-pointers for 35%. He has totaled just nine assists, 14 rebounds and 11 turnovers.

His overall field-goal accuracy in 11 games since the injury is 40.8% (74 of 181).

"What they're doing now with is they're trapping pick-and-rolls," said Jared Dudley, on what he has observed about Beal in his first season in Washington. "The conversation with Brad is, 'You're going to have to be a playmaker early on to set up for you to be able to get these one-on-ones because right now they're taking the ball out of your hands."

Beal's answers have gotten shorter and more curt, and his non-verbal communication makes it obvious that not happy at the moment (or with the questions). Is that he's not pleased with constructive criticism of his performances -- "He's right," Beal concedes about Wittman's "soft" comments about the team -- or just down on himself is not clear. He remains as pleasant as can be expected under the circumstances, brushing over certain topics probably because he’s tired of doing it week after week, month after month and now year after year after year.

"Can't put our finger on anything. It keeps happening, man," Beal said of what has gone wrong with the Wizards. "It's a curse we have to break. It's a really bad habit we have.

"We'll change it around. It's still early for us. Hopefully we can get our mind right."

If this is what Beal's season is going to look like, regardless of who or what is to blame for these lulls, the Wizards (9-11) are going to have trouble getting into the playoffs much less advancing.

As long as he stays healthy, it still won't negatively impact his value in the free-agent market too much if suitors believe it's simply a chemistry issue. Beal's ceiling is too high. 

But what about his future with the Wizards? It's hard to imagine a scenario in which the front office decides to bust up its backcourt. Every option will be exhausted first to try to fix whatever is wrong because Beal is much better than this and still too valuable.

Sixty-two games are left, but at some point it'll be time to sound the fire alarm.

"We need to be a more physical team. We need to be tougher and we need to play harder," Beal said. "We score a lot of points. That's not our issue. It's just a matter of us defending."

MORE WIZARDS: Dudley tries to explain woes, brushes off not playing in 4th

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

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


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 


Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.


Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.


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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.


The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.


Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one.