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Wizards don't have to sacrifice offense to play vise-like defense


Wizards don't have to sacrifice offense to play vise-like defense

The defense that was absent for most of the season -- blamed on the Wizards playing at too fast of a pace on offense -- looks more like the top-10 scoring unit that they've had the last three seasons. The Milwaukee Bucks were plastered 115-86, as their point guard Michael Carter-Williams (0 assists) and best post player, Greg Monroe (four points), couldn't do anything right.

It was the second win in a row for the Wizards (5-4), who held an opponent to less than 100 points in as many games after giving up 118, 114 and 125 in consecutive losses last week.

"I think probably so. From start to finish," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman when asked if this was his team's best performance of the season, even better than their 102-99 win vs. the San Antonio Spurs. "After the first quarter I think we got settled in with what we wanted to do from a defensive standpoint. We did a nice job of holding them to 57 (points) in the last three quarters. Had a lot of deflections. We were active. This is a top 10 offensive rebounding team. When we defensive rebound like that it allows us to play with better pace. Our pace was going to be an important factor. They don't want to play at a high pace and we do."

The stats tell the story. Milwaukee was held to just six offensive rebounds, were outrebounded 42-34 overall, 18-2 in transition, 13-7 on second-chance points, 38-30 in the paint and had seven more turnovers with 19.

The backcourt of John Wall and Garrett Temple, filling in for an injured Bradley Beal, set the tone with their ball pressure on Carter-Williams and Jerryd Bayless. They had trouble getting into their offensive sets and Monroe didn't have space in the low post.

Marcin Gortat took it away from him and the perimeter players made Monroe play at a pace much faster than he prefers.

"We're not going to let post players anymore just get four or five dribbles," said Jared Dudley, who played 23 minutes off the bench because the Bucks started Giannis Antetokounmpo at power forward. "When they start dribbling and their backs are turned, we're going to come and double them. We can use our athleticism and speed defensively so when those shots come up, long rebounds start to hit and we can go out in flow."

The easy baskets came. The Wizards shot 53% from the field (37 of 70) and tied their season high with 12 made three-pointers. 

"Tried to get some fast-break points because they got a tough half-court defense," Temple said. "We really stymied them on the offensive end which led to the (29)-point victory."

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


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

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 


Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.


Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.


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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.


The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.


Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one.