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Wizards-Grizzlies preview: Big matchup on Beale Street?


Wizards-Grizzlies preview: Big matchup on Beale Street?

Matchup: Washington Wizards (10-12) at Dallas Mavericks (13-12)

When: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. (TV: CSN+, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra) 

When last we met: First meeting this season. Washington swept the two-game series last season including a rare win in Memphis, 92-83 on April 4. The Wizards had lost nine straight at FedEx Forum. 

Streaks: With Saturday's 114-11 victory at Dallas Saturday, the Wizards have won three of their last four road games with all the W's coming against teams with winning records. ...While Washington blew a big lead but held on for the win, Memphis fell 100-97 Sunday at Miami despite holding a 16-point cushion. Now the Grizzlies are back home, where they've lost four of six. 

Three things to watch

1. Randolph the reserve: As the NBA moved heavily into small lineups last season, the Wizards and Grizzlies were two teams that remained traditional. Washington started Marcin Gortat and Nene inside while Memphis sported the potent combination of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The Wizards shook things up from the start this season with Nene coming off the bench in favor of Kris Humphries, a perimeter shooting threat. Jared Dudley now occupies that role for Washington. Meanwhile the Grizzlies have now followed suit as Randolph came off the bench Sunday against the Heat. Matt Barnes moved into the starting lineup with former Georgetown star Jeff Green shifting to the stretch-4 role. Despite the loss, the move paid off offensively as Memphis shot 51 percent from the field.

2. Point-producing Porter: Without injured guard Bradley Beal, Washington needed an offensive boost somewhere. Against the Mavs, it came from Otto Porter, who scored a career-high 28 points. Beal won't be back until after Christmas at the earliest so the Wizards need this aggressive version of Porter to hang around. The Wizards are 4-1 this season when he scores at least 17 points.

3. Point guard battle:  Mike Conley isn't always mentioned along the elite floor leaders, but the Grizzlies' guard is among the better two-way options in the league. His steady presence along with the Gasol-Randolph pair inside have carried the Grizzlies in recent seasons. Based on numbers, John Wall rises to this specific challenge. In six meetings dating back to 2011, the Wizards' All-Star is averaging 22.7 points, 8.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and a stunning 41.2 percent on 3-pointers. Of course, Conley's side won four of those six games. His 17.8 points and 7.7 assists helped the cause.

MORE WIZARDS: Is Bradley Beal worth max money?

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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.