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What to look for in Wizards' preseason game at Sixers

What to look for in Wizards' preseason game at Sixers

The laundry list of things to clean up going into tonight’s second preseason game for the Wizards is a lengthy one, but most of it is easily fixable.

Defense will remain the priority vs. the Philadelphia 76ers (CSN, 7:00 p.m. ET).

“It’s definitely on the defensive end,” Bradley Beal, who played 16 minutes, said of the focus after a 106-95 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday. The Heat shot 65.2% in the first quarter and never were seriously challenged.

“We’re not necessarily worried about our offense,” Beal said. “We feel if we space the floor, move the ball we’ll be OK. We can control our defense and how we play, talk communicate and where we are on the floor.”

Beal managed well without John Wall, who sat out as he recovered from knee surgeries. He came off screens and make defenders pay for overplaying him on the three-point shot. Tomas Satoransky did everything well and Markieff Morris had his three-point stroke going for him. 

RELATED: BRADLEY BEAL WANTS TEAM TO PROTEST ANTHEM ALL SEASON

  • Keep the ball out of the middle. The pick-and-roll coverage was inadequate to say the least. The ball pressure wasn’t consistent and the help was hesitant. The Wizards still want to send the side pick-and-rolls baseline. They have to be decisive and not get stuck in-between which happened Tuesday.

 

  • Continued use of stacked screens to free shooters without the ball. Beal did this especially well. When the Wizards set up after-timeout plays, they used Beal and Jarell Eddie slicing to the basket and then reversing course around screens to get open shots. If the defense trails, it’s an open shot as long as the pass is delivered on time. If they overplay an attack dribble gets a closer shot that’s likely uncontested or forces the post to step up which opens the lanes for backdoor cutters.

 

  • Pace from the point guard. Coach Scott Brooks pointed out Trey Burke was too passive in the first quarter of the opener which led to the sluggish start offensively. The Wizards never felt in sync until the second half when the outcome was decided. Burke has to create more tempo to get easier shots for himself and others. Wall will sit again which means Burke will have ample opportunity.

 

  • Someone has to establish deeper post position to make the entry pass effective. That falls on Marcin Gortat who tried to finesse too much and wasn’t looking for the ball enough with his back to the basket. When he did catch it, he was too far from the basket to do much damage and settled for lower percentage looks. Instead of forcing such a shot, he should kick the ball back out, re-post and get it back deeper. That puts more pressure on the defense. Tossing up a quick shot bails it out.

 

  • Tomas Satoransky doesn't need to be treated with kid gloves since he's an NBA rookie (though not professionally). Seeing how he stacks up vs. mostly first-unit competition is needed. Among second-unit players he stands out.   

RELATED: TOMAS SATORANSKY NOT AFRAID OF TOP NBA STARS

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John Wall isn't listening to Drake's trash talk and isn't listening to his music either

John Wall isn't listening to Drake's trash talk and isn't listening to his music either

The friendly feud between Wizards guard John Wall and Raptors superfan Drake nearly tilted to Washington over the weekend as the rap star apparently floated the idea of showing up for Game 3 in D.C. 

Drake, in fact, was going to bring with him a prop to show just how confident he was after his team went up up 2-0.

"I told him to be here for Game 3. He told me he was going to be here," Wall said. "He didn't show up. He told me we was getting swept and he said he had the broom for us."

Wall and Drake exchanged trash-talk throughout the first two games held up in Toronto as Drake sat courtside. Their back-and-forth was caught on camera and went viral.

Wall now has the upperhand with the Wizards having won two straight games as the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday.

"I wanted him to know that they wasn't going to sweep us," Wall said. "We did what we were supposed to do. We came home and took home court, won two games."

Wall continued to say that him and Drake "are just having fun." He has referred to Drake as a friend in the past and Drake is a fan of the University of Kentucky, where Wall starred during the 2009-10 season.

But that friendship is currently on hold. Wall, in fact, says isn't listening to any of Drake's songs during the series and that includes 'Nice For What,' Drake's latest single. The song is being played everywhere, but Wall is avoiding it. 

"I can't?" Wall said when told he can't get away from 'Nice For What.' "I always have my headphones on."

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How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

The Wizards-Raptors first round playoff series has evolved to feature the emergence of several players who started off slowly including Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, Jr. The opposite has happened for Toronto big man Serge Ibaka.

After Ibaka lit up the Wizards for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 1, there has been a disappearance. His scoring has gone missing and it's a big reason why the Wizards have won two straight games and earned a 2-2 series split.

Head coach Scott Brooks knows Ibaka well from their days in Oklahoma City. He helped develop Ibaka and has since watched from afar as his game has changed to include a consistent outside game.

Brooks has on several occasions referred to Ibaka as one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league. The numbers back that up. Last season, he shot 39.1 percent from three on 4.0 attempts per game, excellent for a 6-foot-10 power forward.

This season that number dipped to 36 percent, but he hit 41 percent of his threes in his final 16 games of the regular season. That carried over into the playoffs when he went 3-for-4 in Game 1 as part of an 8-for-11 shooting night overall.

The Wizards made a point to take away those outside shots following their series-opening defeat. The way they are doing that is by crowding him when he gets the ball, even if it means him getting past the initial defender.

"You want to make sure you meet him on the catch. You want to take away his shot," Brooks said. "When he gets open shots, they are money. He's going to knock them down... We did a good job of meeting him on his catch and making him put the ball on the floor with his left hand. You can live with the results."

After his 23-point outburst in Game 1, Ibaka has scored just 20 points total in the last three games. He has gone 2-for-6 from three.

The Wizards are taking away his shot attempts in general. He took 11 shots in each of the first two games of this series, but just four in Game 3 and five in Game 4. In Game 3 he had three points and three turnovers and on Sunday he had seven points and four turnovers.

Here are two examples of the Wizards' defense on Ibaka. On this first play, Markieff Morris meets Ibaka as soon as he catches the ball and the result is a turnover:

On this next play, Morris follows Ibaka all the way to the rim and even though he goes up on a pump fake, Morris recovers to alter Ibaka's shot and force a miss:

The Wizards, however, did get away with one against Ibaka. He was left wide open for a three in the final minute, but the shot rimmed out:

As the first two plays demonstrate, Morris deserves a lot of credit for the Wizards' success against Ibaka. He has the size and mobility to keep up with him and is willing to use contact to his advantage.

"Just playing the tendencies," Morris said. "We're making them do things they are uncomfortable with and are getting better results."

Ibaka was fourth on the Raptors this season in points per game and third in shot attempts. He is their third option behind All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. If the Wizards can continue to lock up Ibaka, it will be difficult for the Raptors to beat them.

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