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Nene positively knows history


Nene positively knows history

No true timetable exists for Nene's return from plantar fasciitis in his left foot, though he returned to practice on Thursday and Friday. For now on game nights, the injured All-Star caliber power forward endures one Wizards loss after another as a sideline observer, the injury having turned him into a very expensive cheerleader - and as it turns out, history teacher.

"Definitely is not easy, but we just need to continue to work and the sunshine will come," the Brazilian big man said about living through the 0-8 start to the season, which matched the franchise record set last campaign. Nene missed out on that winless stretch, not acquired from Denver until midway the lockout-shortened season, but he's witnessed his share of poor starts during his 10 NBA seasons.

With so much of the season remaining, Nene remains positive. That's simply his nature. Also, the veteran recalls another team that turned early season frowns upside down with a run to the postseason. Long-time Wizards' fans should as well.

"Nobody succeed without adversity. We have adversity right now and they put on the board, 2004-05 Chicago. They start 0-9 and they won like 47 games. That could be the same," Nene said.

That Scott Skiles-coached Bulls squad, led by Eddy Curry, Kirk Hinrich, and Ben Gordon did indeed win 47 games and reach the playoffs. That's where they faced the Gilbert Arenas-Antawn Jamison-Larry Hughes Wizards in the first round. Chicago jumped out to a 2-0 series lead before Washington won four straight for what turned out to be the franchise's last playoff series win.

Perhaps when Nene and John Wall (knee) return, the Wizards will experience a similar turnaround. Actually, the Wizards previously experienced resurgence when Nene joined the team last season, though he's not feeling any extra pressure or viewing himself as a potential savior.

"Pressure? Everybody have pressure," Nene said on Sunday following practice as the team prepares to host Indiana on Monday. "It’s not, me and John’s out, when we back we’re going to be the miracle. We’re going to be two more helps on the court."

Nene's own projection has him out another two weeks at least. He's taking his rehabilitation "Step by step. Right now, my body is sore, my foot hurt a little bit. I try to be positive and try to control what I can do."

As for the team's future, Nene said, "I believe we’re going to flip all this negative stuff. And we understand. The fans have been great here, they have been supportive. People on the outside, they are taking bad when we are losing. When we win, they are going to clap hands. That’s how it’s going to be and they will.  

If the 2004-05 Chicago Bulls model is to be copied, these Wizards, the only winless team in the NBA, will endure another loss before notching victory  number one. Success will remain sporadic until mid-December when a seven-game winning streak occurs with a nine-gamer to follow later in the season. Sounds divine, right? Well, apparently Nene might also know a thing or two about such heavenly matters.

"I just remember one thing, God say he [is] going to make this team brand new," Nene said. "Start over. All over again. So, when you start all over again, you start at the bottom. Right now, we’re at the bottom. But we will build up strong. We will be good."

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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.





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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.





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