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Wizards introduce Neal; address moving on from Pierce

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Wizards introduce Neal; address moving on from Pierce

The truth is the Washington Wizards wanted Paul Pierce back. That didn't happen. Once the future Hall of Fame forward revealed he planned on joining the Los Angeles Clippers, the Wizards moved on.

The team added three veterans in the days after Pierce's decision. On Thursday afternoon, wing guard Gary Neal became the first of that trio officially confirmed by the team.

The Wizards have officially acquired Jared Dudley and are expected to announce the signing of swingman Alan Anderson in the coming days. 

Maybe some of these players join a team that reached the Eastern Conference semifinals for a second straight year under coach Randy Wittman regardless of Pierce's decision. Then again, considering the small forward's playoff heroics - and the minutes he commands-, maybe they don't.

"You just have to move on. You can't dwell on it," Wittman said Thursday following the team's final mini-camp practice before heading to the Las Vegas Summer League.

Pierce, 37, agreed to a three-year, $10 million contract with the Clippers on July 1.

"If you're around long enough you're never surprised," Wittman said of Pierce's choice. "I think you can probably ask (Dallas Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban that."

Wittman continued.

"Disappointed a little but just because who Paul is and what he is, but he's at the end of his career," he said of Pierce, a Los Angeles native. "I know he's got his mom there and family there and he grew up there. I know what that was all about.  I was able to play with hometown team at the end of my career. I know what the thought process is there."

The thought process this offseason involved adding more versatility and shooting options on the roster. Neal, Dudley and Anderson fill those needs.

"You have to be ready to move on with the next step and I think we've done a good job with that. Real excited with what we've been able to do, the additions. Hopefully we've got another piece we can maybe add as the summer moves on," Wittman said.

Neal, 30, made it clear why he was interested in Washington.

Terms were not disclosed, but the Baltimore native reportedly signed a 1-year, $2.1 million contract to join the Wizards after spending last season with a pair of non-playoff teams. The perimeter threat averaged 10.1 points with Charlotte and Minnesota. 

"I think the biggest thing that stood out to me was getting back to a team with playoff expectations," Neal said during a conference call on Thursday. "For the teams that I had on my list, Washington was atop that list. Also, just having an opportunity to play with a pass-first, very good point guard in John Wall."

The 6-foot-4 Neal will serve as a backup for starter Bradley Beal, though Wittman said the two could join Wall in three-guard sets.

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA Today Sports Images

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: 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 Sunday night in Game 4 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:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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

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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 plays 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.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS