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One on one: Who's go-to guy in clutch?

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One on one: Who's go-to guy in clutch?

With the intense NBA offseason cooling down, there is time for reflection on what the Washington Wizards accomplished and a chance to look at the road ahead. For the next couple of weeks,CSNWashington.com Insider J. Michael and Wizards correspondent Ben Standig will examine various issues and answer questions as the Wizards move toward the 2015-16 campaign.

Paul Pierce, as expected, became the Wizards go-to option late in games during the playoffs. With the Truth gone, who steps into that role this season or will this be by committee? 

J. Michael: John Wall and Bradley Beal. This was made clear within the organization when Pierce left in free agency. While they’d have liked to have kept Pierce, this will be Wall’s sixth season and Beal’s fourth. They’re supposed to be the future and an elite backcourt. Provided Beal gets his extension before the tip of this season, both will be making well more than $100 million-plus combined.

Almost everyone else is complementary. The flood of shotmakers such as Gary Neal, Alan Anderson, Jared Dudley and Drew Gooden help spread the floor to allow Wall and Beal to work. Wall averaged a double-double with a broken left wrist in three games vs. the Atlanta Hawks. Beal had 22 assists in the three games that Wall missed.  It’s not all about hitting shots. They now have the teammates to set up to make them when defenses scheme to take them away. 

Ben Standig: I agree with Wall and  Beal. However, it just can't be the Wall and Beal we watched during the regular season.

Washington repeatedly put Wall in isolation sets and the All-Star point guard frequently struggled in such spots. The primary issue is his lack of a consistent perimeter shot. Defenders will always guard the blinding quick Wall for the drive, but especially if he continues shooting 30 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

As for Beal, his outside shot is textbook quality. However, the rising fourth-year guard's ball-handling needs work. Putting Beal in the iso situation essentially provides Washington the opposite problem of when Wall is in that decision-maker role. Adding to the dilemma, Beal, Washington's top shooter, can't drive-and-dish with passes to himself, and Wall certainly isn't a catch-and-shoot option.

Now for the positives. Beal handled the lead guard role with aplomb when Wall missed time during the playoffs with a fractured wrist. That version can get the job done in late game scenarios. As for Wall, he's immensely talented. Like Beal, Wall shows a willingness to take the final shot. That trait isn't always found even the best players. The Wizards also added shooters in Jared Dudley and Gary Neal plus the effective Alan Anderson. Putting some combination of those players plus Otto Porter or Drew Gooden on the court ensures Washington can spread the floor, which in theory opens up additional space for Wall and Beal. We'll see if they step. Good chance they do. With Pierce gone, they'll certainly have opportunities.

RELATED: Ranking offseasons in the East: No. 12, Sixers

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

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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