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Good and bad from Wizards through four games with Warriors up next

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Good and bad from Wizards through four games with Warriors up next

The Wizards are tied atop the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 record to begin the season and up next is the Golden State Warriors, set for Friday night at 10:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Four games isn't a large sample size, but let's look at some early trends involving this team...


1. Bradley Beal is Balling 

Like the Wizards as a team, Bradley Beal is off to an impressive start and there's reason to believe he can be even better as this season goes on. We know Beal can score, we know he can shoot.

Now he's opening up the rest of his game and it might earn him his first All-Star appearance. Through four games - yes, a small sample size - Beal is averaging 24.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

That type of versatility could put him in the All-NBA conversation. He wants to rebound more and so far it's working well. Also worth noting is Beal's 8.0 free throws per game. He can become one of the NBA's best scorers and getting to the line is a great way to do that. The only thing he isn't doing well is shooting threes.

He's at 26.3 percent and we know that won't continue.

2. Porter is More Aggressive

Otto Porter is also looking like a new guy through four games. He's been much more aggressive, especially in the first half. Against the Sixers he scored the Wizards' first eight points and against the Pistons he had 20 points at halftime. Right now he's averaging 16.8 points, 7.5 assists and 3.3 steals.

Consistency has been an issue for him over the years, so we'll need to see more, but that is a very good start for him. And like Beal, his 33.3 three-point percentage is likely to go up and quickly.

3. Getting to the Free Throw Line

Beal isn't the only Wizards player drawing contact and getting calls. The Wizards are second in the NBA in free throws made per game (25.0), fifth in attempts (31.0) and ninth in percentage (.806). That includes two extremes, though. Against the Sixers they had 38 attempts and made 30 of them. Yet on Wednesday against the Lakers they attempted 23 including overtime and hit just 15 (65.2%).



1. Threes Aren't Falling

Last year the Wizards were eighth in the NBA with a 37.2 percentage from three-point range. Through four games this year they are 28th at 28.4 percent.

That is not going to last and not just because Beal and Porter haven't found their groove. Both John Wall and Mike Scott are shooting just 14.3 percent, much lower than usual. Plus, both Jason Smith and Markieff Morris are hurt to varying degrees. Yes, Smith returned on Wednesday, but a sprained right shoulder is not optimal for a right-handed shooter.

If last year and the preseason were any indication, he will eventually start lighting it up from long range.

2. Defense is a Work in Progress

Wednesday night against the Lakers was a solid defensive performance overall for the Wizards, even though they would like to have several plays back from late in the game. But there are other numbers after four games the Wizards will need to improve on.

They are allowing opponents to shoot 47 percent from the field, which ranks 25th in the NBA. The Wizards rank in the bottom half of the league in opponents three-point percentage (36%, 17th in NBA) and 22nd in defensive rebounds per game.

3. Bench Still a Mixed Bag

Given Kelly Oubre, Jr. is a starter at the moment, he doesn't count for their second unit.

And on their bench, only Jodie Meeks has passed the eye test as a major contributor and that's with his 36 percent from the field in mind. Ignore that number, however, and he's been a nice spark off the bench. He can score in bunches and we have seen that so far through four games.

The bench will be tough to evaluate fully until the Wizards get Morris back, but Tim Frazier, Mike Scott and Ian Mahinmi aren't off to the greatest of starts. All three have had their moments, but haven't made the impact we know they are capable of.


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Wizards' offense stumbles without John Wall in loss to Raptors

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Wizards' offense stumbles without John Wall in loss to Raptors

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 100-91 on Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre. Here's analysis of what went down...

Not enough: The Wizards pulled off the upset earlier this month in Toronto when they were without star guard John Wall. On Sunday, there weren't as fortunate.

This time Kyle Lowry didn't get ejected in the first half and this time DeMar DeRozan (33 points, 15-for-26 FG) had a good shooting night. Bradley Beal (27 points) stepped up, but had five turnovers and didn't get much help from his teammates.

Otto Porter was held to 15 points and six rebounds. Those are decent numbers, but they needed more with Wall out. Markieff Morris had only three points on 1-for-10 shooting. Marcin Gortat (12 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) played well, to be fair.

The Wizards have now lost two straight games and sit 9-7 on the season. Without Wall, the Wizards were the underdogs but they were only down three to begin the fourth quarter. They were outscored 21-15 in the final frame.

The Raptors' 100 points snapped the Wizards' streak of holding opponents to under 100 at five games with just 54.7 seconds left.

Wall out, may miss Monday: The Wizards held Wall out due his swollen left knee and it could keep him out against the Bucks on Monday. That's what head coach Scott Brooks told reporters in Toronto before the game. The Wizards proved on Sunday they can still compete against good teams without Wall, but the road won't get any easier. 

The Bucks have a very good backcourt with Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton. After dealing with Kyle Lowry in this one, Tim Frazier will have to keep up with Bledsoe.

Frazier and Tomas Satoransky filled the void with Wall out and produced mixed results. Frazier put up some solid numbers with six rebounds and eight assists, but had four turnovers, including a badly timed on with 2:10 left when he dribbled off his knee and out of bounds. Satoransky also had three turnovers, but managed four points, three rebounds and two steals in 12 minutes. His best moments were on defense.

The Wizards' offense overall just couldn't get going without Wall running the show. They shot 42 percent despite going 11-for-19 (57.9%) from three. Their 11-for-19 (57.3%) mark from the free throw line didn't help.


Perimeter defense: Here's a positive for the Wizards. The Raptors entered this game tied for 10th in the NBA in three-pointers made per game (10.9) and they chucked up a lot of attempts from long range. The Raptors hit 10 threes, but the Wizards deserve credit for holding them to 26.3 percent at 10-for-38 overall.

Three-point defense has been a big point of emphasis for the Wizards since Brooks took over. Last year they were 20th in opponents three-point percentage. They were eighth in the NBA coming into Sunday's game, a major improvement. 

The personnel is there for them to defend the perimeter well, even without Wall. Beal, Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. are all young, quick and long. So far this season they have been putting those skills to good use.

Injury scare for Keef: Markieff Morris took a hard shot to his nose in the first quarter on a loose ball play. Morris dove to the ground trying to get possession and his face slammed straight into the leg of Jonas Valanciunas. Morris would return in the second quarter and quickly hit a three.

Here's the replay of Morris' collision:


Up next: The Wizards head to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Monday night. It will be their first back-to-back set of the season. They are the last team to have one. Tipoff is a 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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John Wall out against Toronto Raptors with swollen knee

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John Wall out against Toronto Raptors with swollen knee

For the second time this season the Wizards will be playing at the Toronto Raptors without star point guard John Wall.

Wall is sitting out this time due to a swollen left knee, head coach Scott Brooks announced on Sunday afternoon. Wall was limited in the Wizards' loss to the Heat on Friday night and said fluid had built up in his knee after he received IVs the previous weekend. 

The Wizards were able to beat the Raptors on the road on Nov. 5 without Wall. Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was ejected from that game in the second quarter.

Without Wall, the Wizards will rely on backup point guards Tim Frazier and Tomas Satoransky. They could also use shooting guard Bradley Beal and small forward Otto Porter to run the offense. Kelly Oubre, Jr. could be used on the defensive end to check Lowry.

The Wizards are 2-3 without Wall dating back to last season. This year he is averaging 19.9 points and 9.3 assists per game this season.

The Wizards play the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday in a back-to-back set. Wall could miss that game as well, according to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller.