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Should Wizards have fouled LeBron James to prevent game-tying 3?

Should Wizards have fouled LeBron James to prevent game-tying 3?

The basic question has to be answered after a game like Monday's, when LeBron James buried a turnaround, falling-out-of-bounds three-pointer to send the Cleveland Cavaliers into overtime with the Wizards, is why not foul? Ask 100 different coaches and depending on the day or their most recent expereience the answer will change. 

Kevin Love inbounded the ball over Markieff Morris standing a few feet off the baseline and launched it over the 6-10 forward for a perfect catch by James. He drained it over Bradley Beal, who he's at least 3-4 inches taller than, to tie the score at 120 to force the extra period. 

The Cavs would win 140-135. But here are the issues to consider: When James caught the ball, he was inside the three-point arc. An immediate grasp and foul by Beal would've only resulted in a tie score if James had sank the shot while under wraps and made the foul shot.

Should Morris have been up closer on Love to create a more difficult? If Brooks had a chance to do it all over again, would he?

"We discussed that. At that moment he was catching an off-balance three that's tough," Brooks said about fouling to prevent the tying shot. "Guys are so good now with the long pass like that. They can catch and shoot at the same time they catch the ball. It's nobody's fault. You just witnessed a very good player make an incredible shot."

Beal couldn't foul before the ball was inbounded because it would result in free throws and the ball for Cleveland. In hindsight, he thought he should've done so.

Even the best of coaches have their decisions called into question when the result goes against them. In the 2013 NBA Finals and up 95-92, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pulled Tim Duncan off the court and it led to an offensive rebound for the Miami Heat. Chris Bosh grabbed it from Boris Diaw, Duncan's replacement, and kicked it out to Ray Allen for a three-pointer that forced overtime in Game 6. 

The Heat would go on to win the series that the Spurs could've closed out that night. Popovich tried to match Miami's five smalls lineup by making the switch but didn't compensate for Bosh being re-inserted on the final possession.

Of course when you're playing poker with "play" money, the decision on whether or not to go all-in is so much easier. If Beal should foul (and I still think he should've), consider the Love-to-James inbound was a bang-bang play. It has to be an instant and definitive decision. If there is any hesitation, he can't commit to it. That's a lot of procesing of thought in a short time frame and the percentages say James probably misses that shot 9 out of 10 times. 

James was 6 of 8 from three in the game and Love shot 6-for-10 from deep. Kyle Korver made 4 of 8. Even though Kyrie Irving shot just 2-for-7, he's known for making the impossible shots possible. Threes are Channing Frye's speciality and he was 1-for-3. Anyone else on Clevleand's roster, they can have that shot. 

This, however, was the one time James makes it.  If the Wizards are in a similar position later on in the season, will they change up?

The right answer depends on the day and the personnel on the floor – for both teams. If you subscribe to the theory that James gets "superstar" calls, that makes it even more complex. 

MORE WIZARDS: Barkley and Shaq say John Wall is East's best point guard

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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 players 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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