To pay or not pay JaVale McGee. That question surely kept the Washington Wizards decision makers up at night before they decided to trade the physically gifted, but roll your eyescausing center before the NBA's trade deadline.The Denver Nuggets surely had a similar debate. In the end, the Mile Highers decided to take the plunge. McGee received a four-year, 44 million contract, Yahoo reported. The agile 7-footer tweeted out the news with a picture of him signing up to be a very wealthy man."Just signed with Denver, could not be happier! Thank you to the Kroenke family and the fans for their support," McGee tweeted, thanking the Nuggets' owners.Now the comparisons with Nene truly begin.While there was some sense McGee could receive a fifth year, the total dollars are in line with expectations based on recent contracts handed out to the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan and other centers. Bottom line,big men get paid, even those with a penchant for full-court dribbling and general knuckle headedness.The Wizards knew what their former first-round pick had coming financially. They also knew which waythe franchise's direction was headed with the array of immature characters in the locker room. Rather than potentially make another Andre Blatche extension decision, the Wizardsgave themoney - and as it turns out, a little bit more - to Nene.The 29-year-oldBrazilian has four years left on his original five-year contract and will earn 13 million during each season. In essence, Nene will receive 2 million more per season than McGee.We know the Wizards responded positively once Nene's professionalism and diverse scoring movesjoined the mix. In fairness, McGee posted solid numbers with the Nuggets and shined against Lakers center Andrew Bynum in the playoffs. Maybe McGee, playing under non-nonsense coach George Karl, has learned right from wrong. We'll see. Regardless, do I imagine the Wizards will regret having answered the pay or not pay JaVale question the way they did?Can't say I do.
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.
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.
This is how Bradley Beal felt about the Raptors tonight 🍿 pic.twitter.com/W2sYuNVVmt— Aaron Dodson (@aardodson) April 21, 2018
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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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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