Quick Links

Morning tip: Who has edge in Wizards vs. Hawks?


Morning tip: Who has edge in Wizards vs. Hawks?

ATLANTA -- Throw out what happened in the first round for the Wizards (a surprisingly easy sweep of the Toronto Raptors) and the Atlanta Hawks (a surprisingly difficult six-game series with the Brooklyn Nets).

These are slightly different teams from the regular-season series, won 3-1 by the Hawks, and in a seven-game series it's all about adjustments between games and the more defensive style of play.

Game 1 is today at Phillips Arena (ABC, 1 p.m. ET; Wizards Postgame Live on CSN, approximately 3:30):

  • Frontcourt: In terms of sheer numbers and depth, this isn't much of a contest. The Wizards are superior with Marcin Gortat, Nene, Drew Gooden, Kevin Seraphin, Kris Humphries and Paul Pierce. The Hawks counter with Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Pero Antic, DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott. Where the Hawks get a leg up, however, is by forcing opponents to adjust to them which makes the Wizards' size (and slower feet) a weakness. But with Pierce playing more at power forward and Gooden's recent emergence, some of that advantage should be neutralized. Advantage, Wizards.

  • Backcourt: Jeff Teague has been better than John Wall head-to-head. Wall, however, is the better player. Kyle Korver is the NBA's best three-point shooter and an underrated defender. Bradley Beal shot good enough from deep to be ninth-best in the regular season. The difference in both backcourts has been consistency for the 82-game season. In the postseason, Wall and Beal have been better. So which duo wins out? Whichever one turns over the ball the least and until the Wizards prove they can be more responsible with it it's difficult to go against the more proven commodity in this key area. Teague will challenge every entry pass, and his wings will support him by denying the ball. Advantage, Hawks. 

  • Reserves: The Hawks have gotten more production because, like with the starters, they fit. The Wizards have more depth and versatility with Otto Porter, Ramon Sessions, Gooden and can resort to Seraphin, Humphries, Rasual Butler and Will Bynum. Having options in a seven-game series when situations change is significant. The Wizards have the pieces. They have to find a way to make it work in concert. Advantage, Wizards

  • Coaches: It's hard to go against Mike Budenholzer of the Hawks. He led the franchise to a record 60 wins in the regular season and was named NBA coach of the year. But Randy Wittman, who won't get anywhere near the respect of the long-time Gregg Popovich disciple, seems to be better in a series. His teams are 7-1 on the road in the postseason including last year despite being the lower seed in each series. Does that experience matter? How can it not? Even

  • Intangibles: Most of the Wizards have been in this situation and have been underdogs. They weren't as happy to get to the second round this year as they were last year. This is a team that tends to play better when it's the underdog vs. the No. 1 seed in the East, which is a good thing.  Plus, they have a swagger with Pierce that wasn't present previously. The Hawks have a perimeter-heavy style that usually has trouble translating the deeper a team like this gets into the postseason. Atlanta is 0-15 in semifinal series. The Wizards haven't been past this round since 1978-79. Advantage, Wizards.

Quick Links

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


Quick Links

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.