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Rundown of Wizards' difficulties facing Hawks


Rundown of Wizards' difficulties facing Hawks

It took the Atlanta Hawks longer than expected to get past the Brooklyn Nets, but Friday night's 111-87 victory sets up a second-round matchup with the Wizards that begins Sunday.

The Wizards, who swept the Toronto Raptors in the first round despite losing all three regular-season meetings, lost three of four to the No. 1 seed Hawks:

Nov. 25: 106-102 loss at Verizon Center

Reserves Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack, the latter a former Wizards draft pick, scored 16 consecutive points in what was an ugly game from start to finish.

At this early point of the season, Atlanta had yet to show championship form. Scott and Mack led a 22-5 run that built a 14-point lead. Scott had 17 points in 22 minutes and Mack had 13 in 19 minutes. Jeff Teague led with 28 points, and Paul Millsap had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Bradley Beal had a miserable game for Washington, shooting 4-for-14 and accounting for five of 20 turnovers. John Wall had 21 points and 13 assists but seven turnovers. Nene missed his first game of the season because of soft-tissue inflammation in his right foot.

Jan. 11: 120-89 loss at Phillips Arena

Kyle Korver scored 19 points and DeMarre Carroll added 16 for the Hawks' eight consecutive victory. At this point they'd won 13 of 14 and 22 of 24.

The Wizards played from behind throughout and appeared to figure them out and cut the deficit to two. But they came unraveled in the fourth quarter when they were decimated 33-12. Korver made 5 of 7 three-point shots overall as Atlanta scored 31 of their points off 20 turnovers by the Wizards.

This loss put the Wizards at 1-12 at Philips Arena since Jan. 11, 2008.

Feb. 4: 105-96 loss at Phillips Arena

Teague had 26 points and eight assists and Al Horford added 21 points and 13 rebounds in a game that Atlanta pulled out in the fourth quarter.

Wall did his best to offset Teague with 24 points and nine assists and Beal added 23 points. Wall's two foul shots gave the Wizards a brief lead 74-73 with 1:17 left in the third quarter but that didn't last long. There were too many contributions from DeMarre Carroll (14 points), Millsap (11) and Dennis Schroder (10).

The Hawks made seven three-pointers in the first quarter to build a 29-18 lead.

April 12: 108-99 win at Verizon Center

The Hawks sat all five starters for this one. Wall had 24 points and nine assists as the Wizards reached their highest win total in more than 30 years, (46). 

The Wizards led by 18 points in the first quarter, 21 in the second and 25 in the third but as usual they allowed a demoralized opponent to creep back into it. Wall had 10 turnovers, with four coming in the final quarter.

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Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

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Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks believes he is partly to blame for Bradley Beal's lackluster scoring output through two games in the team's 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series against Raptors.

The head coach said as much following the Wizards' disastrous Game 2 loss and stated it again for clarity at practice on Thursday.

They weren't just throwaway lines. No, Brooks truly meant what he said and followed up those comments with an apology face-to-face.

Brooks met with Beal and John Wall in between Games 2 and 3 to see how they can get Beal going and reiterated that some of it all was on the coach.

"He apologized to me, which was weird because he's somebody who always holds me accountable for stuff," Beal said after Friday's shootaround.

"I guess he figured I wasn't shooting the ball enough and he thought it was his fault. I don't know."

Beal, who is averaging 14.0 points in two games and scored only nine in Game 2, came away from the meeting with a good understanding of what he needs to do to get back on track. After apologizing, Brooks laid out a strategy in hopes that he, Wall and Beal can all be on the same page moving forward.

They need to get their All-Star shooting guard back to form on the offensive end.

"He just basically challenged me. He challenged me to be more aggressive on the offensive and defensive end," Beal said.

What has made Beal's scoring troubles through two games particularly surprising is how well he played against the Raptors during the regular season. He averaged 28.8 points in four games against Toronto and all were without Wall.

Beal shot 50 percent against the Raptors both from the field and from three. So far this series he's shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from long range.

Asked whether there is anything he can draw from the regular season to apply to the playoffs, Beal said it's not as easy as it may seem.

"Those games are different. The matchups are different to an extent. It's totally different in the playoffs because you have more time to prep and prepare and gameplan for us," he said. 

"I think the biggest thing is them being physical. They are real physical with me. Whenever I'm standing around on offense or moving around, they are grabbing me. I just need to be physical back with them. Keep moving off the ball and especially if Kyle [Lowry] is guarding me. Tire him out as much as possible. Continue to be aggressive."

Coaches use all sorts of leadership tactics to motivate players. Perhaps an apology will do the trick.





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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: 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 Friday night in Game 3 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:


Series: Raptors lead 2-0
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Do or die

If the Wizards lose on Friday night, the series will technically not be over. They will be down 0-3 with a home game up next and an opportunity to extend their season and send it all back to Toronto. That said, the odds would not be good. In fact, they would be pretty much as bad as they can be.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from down 0-3 in a series. So, unless the Wizards feel like they can make history, like UMBC over Virginia history, then they better win Game 3. 

Now, some teams have come close to making it happen. Three times before a team has gone down 0-3 and forced seven games. The last time was the 2003 Blazers, who fell in Game 7 to the Mavs. 

Recovering from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series has happened in both baseball and hockey, most famously in 2004 when the Red Sox beat the Yankees to reach the World Series. At some point it will happen in basketball, but the chances are essentially next-to-none. The Wizards will be much better off by winning Game 3, just like they did last year when they went down 0-2 against the Celtics in the second round and forced a Game 7.

Beal and Otto

The Wizards are hoping to see more from both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. It was a big topic of discussion at Thursday's practice how both guys need to be more aggressive in looking for their own shot. Beal was held to just nine points in Game 2 and Porter, the NBA's third-best three-point shooter, didn't even attempt one three.

Brooks held a meeting with Beal and John Wall to discuss how they can get Beal more opportunities, but ultimately it's up to him and Porter to force the issue for themselves. It would seem likely at least one of them breaks out in Game 3. They both were great against the Raptors during the regular season and both proved throughout the year that they can score against anybody.

Too many threes

The biggest reason the Wizards are down 0-2 in this series is the three-point shot. The Raptors have hit a ton of them and even though the Wizards have been intent on stopping them, they have had no such luck.

The Raptors hit 16 threes in the first game to set a playoff franchise record. They shot 51.7 percent from long range. In Game 2, they hit 13 and 11 were in the first half. They made seven of them in the first quarter alone to the tune of 44 points, the worst defensive quarter in the playoffs in Wizards franchise history since 1965.

This is how much the three-point shot matters: the Raptors' 11 first-half threes in Game 2 helped them outscore the Wizards by 18 points by halftime, but in the second half when they hit only two threes, the Wizards edged them by seven points. Washington has to stop the three-pointer, it's that simple.

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