Wizards

Quick Links

NBA free agency primer, part 2: Power shift

usatsi_8621103_141983962_lowres.jpg

NBA free agency primer, part 2: Power shift

Part two of this free agency primer focuses on the bigger NBA picture, but with an eye toward the Wizards. Click here for part one, a look at 10 free agents for Washington.

Power shift

Stop me if you heard this before, but the West is the stronger and deeper of the two conferences. On the surface, this isn't about to change. What could alter the competitive balance? Some of the top free agents switching sides. Every All-Star believes their presence can tip the scales regardless of the tricky path, but everyone noticed the defending champion San Antonio Spurs not even making it out of the first round of the playoffs even though they might have been no less than the second best team in the West. Then again, in this LeBron James era of joining other stars, those other stars are mostly in the West.

Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge tops the list of the free agents likely to change teams. According to reports, the power forward is scheduled to meet with seven teams starting with Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. Of the seven, the only two in the East are the Toronto Raptors (huh) and the New York Knicks, who have the only Thursday meeting set with Aldridge. 

On the other hand, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler are probably the top two free agents in the East with a chance to change teams. The Cavs and Bulls would remain formidable even if they lost these All-Stars, but not as much. 

Four teams are reportedly in play for Los Angeles Clippers' shot blocking center DeAndre Jordan. Three are in the West (Just assume the Knicks are in play for every notable free agent option). The Wizards are not involved, but they're certainly paying attention because of the Paul Pierce situation. They're also surely interested in where Aldridge, Love, Butler, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Paul Millsap and others land.

Division race

We all agree nobody really focuses on divisions much anymore, but the Hawks, Heat, Hornets and Magic are the teams the Wizards face the most. Atlanta dominated the entire conference last season, but now must work on keeping starting forwards Millsap an DeMarre Carroll. Miami has a chance for true contention if they keep free agents Wade and Dragic, Chris Bosh returns in good health and center Hassan Whiteside maintains control over his emotions and attitude.

Charlotte overhauled its roster by shipping out Lance Stephenson and bringing in Nicolas Batum plus rookie Frank Kaminsky. Maybe all the changes puts them back into the playoff picture, a picture Orlando's always promising roster might finally, finally enter this season. The Magic drafted shooting threat Mario Hezonja, but could lose restricted free agent forward Tobias Harris.

MORE WIZARDS: Free agency primer: 10 names to watch for the Wizards

Quick Links

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

usatsi_10796374.jpg
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.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Quick Links

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