Wizards

Quick Links

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

usatsi_10365424.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

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...

THE GOOD

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%).

RELATED: STEPHEN A. SMITH GOES AFTER WIZARDS AGAIN

THE BAD

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.

[RELATED: WALL THREW DOWN A CRAZY DUNK VS. LAKERS]

Quick Links

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

usatsi_10796374.jpg
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.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Quick Links

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