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Morning tip: Why now? Wizards slowed down for Pierce

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Morning tip: Why now? Wizards slowed down for Pierce

The logical question for the Wizards is if this smaller, fast-paced style is so much better, why didn't coach Randy Wittman start using it sooner? The answer is pretty simple, and he said it many times without actually saying it in previous seasons: They've lacked the personnel -- until now.

Now with rookie Kelly Oubre, Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal, they're better-suited to quicken the pace. And if Otto Porter is ready to be the starter at small forward and Kris Humphries, who made 2 of 4 three-pointers in Tuesday's preseason opener, can make the long ball pushes them to yet another level.

The truth is, no pun intended, with Paul Pierce (and Porter still raw) this style wasn't doable even last season. John Wall, prompted by this exact question about Pierce, weighed in after practice this week (Note: Wall was asked specifically about Pierce. He did not voluntarily bring up his name but as usual answered honestly).

"No disrespect to Paul but we wanted to kind of be a half-court team. He couldn't get up and down the floor," Wall said of the the 37-year-old who left in free agency for the L.A. Clippers after one season. "He's not the young Paul anymore. He helped us out a lot in so many other ways in making big shots and being a leader. Now this is an opportunity to let Otto exhale, running the floor, being able to create off the dribble, slashing to the basket.

"Everybody can get it. Whoever gets it off the rebound just get it and go. Gives me the opportunity to run the lane and catch the ball on the wing and can attack right away instead of coming down and defenses setting up for me. ... At times (in the past), if Otto got the ball he really didn't want to put it on the floor. Now Otto is getting rebounds and pushing the pace. (Wittman) is believing in everybody and letting those guys know they can make plays just like I can."

And when Andre Miller was traded in February for Ramon Sessions, what was Wittman's chief concern? He wanted more pace (meaning possessions) with the second unit. With Sessions getting acclimated and Porter showing that he was able to live up to his No. 3 draft pick status, the Wizards went to the smaller lineups in the playoffs and the results spoke for themselves.

Aside from conditioning of his troops this season, he'll have to eventually figure out if Humphries or Drew Gooden can handle the responsibilities defensively of a stretch four. Or maybe he'll have to go even smaller. 

RELATED: Wall: No one close to being in shape for Wizards' up-tempo

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA Today Sports Images

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

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

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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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 plays 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