Wizards

Quick Links

Markieff Morris says Wizards are close to hitting their stride after inconsistent start

usatsi_10419809.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Markieff Morris says Wizards are close to hitting their stride after inconsistent start

It was in the month of December last season when the Wizards hit their stride, when they put behind them an inconsistent start and took off on a run that cemented them as one of the best teams in NBA. Though it was early December when that happened in 2016, Wizards forward Markieff Morris believes the Wizards are close to a similar run.

"It's coming. Don't worry about it," Morris said. "Trust me, it's coming."

From Dec. 8 through March 11 last season, the Wizards went 34-11, the best record in basketball during that span. They were 7-13 when it began and 41-24 by the time it was over.

At 17-14 after 31 games, the Wizards are outpacing themselves from this time last year when they were 15-16, but they haven't put everything together quite yet like they did during the 2016-17 season. Their longest win streak this season is just four games. Due to injuries and trouble against sub-.500 teams, the Wizards have yet to go on an extended run.

PODCAST: JOHN WALL GOES 1-ON-1

But Morris is seeing signs of life in the Wizards' locker room and can sense they are close to turning a corner.

"We'll get John [Wall] back and all the way back the way he needs to be. We'll get [Otto Porter] back. I'm almost there myself," he said.

Wall continues to work his way into midseason form after missing nine games due to a pair of knee procedures on his left knee. Porter has missed two games due to a right hip contusion.

Morris missed seven games to start the year after having offseason sports hernia surgery, but has not been himself in the months since. He's averaging just 9.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. His backup, Mike Scott, has been producing about the same (9.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg) while shooting a much higher percentage.

RELATED: HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR WIZARDS FANS

Morris was a big reason for the Wizards' taking off last year in December. During the 34-11 stretch, he averaged 15.0 points, 7.1 rebounds 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Morris says his own improvement is a reason why he thinks the Wizards are close to breaking out. He's starting to get over problems with his right hip and left ankle by utilizing days off to rest and spending more time in the weight room.

"It's how I feel when I wake up," he said. "I feel it when I'm working and then the days after games, I feel better the next day."

There have been times this season where Morris' lack of production has appeared to be a missing piece for the Wizards, but he sounds confident that will change and soon.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

Quick Links

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: 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 Friday night in Game 3 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 3: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-0
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Do or die

If the Wizards lose on Friday night, the series will technically not be over. They will be down 0-3 with a home game up next and an opportunity to extend their season and send it all back to Toronto. That said, the odds would not be good. In fact, they would be pretty much as bad as they can be.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from down 0-3 in a series. So, unless the Wizards feel like they can make history, like UMBC over Virginia history, then they better win Game 3. 

Now, some teams have come close to making it happen. Three times before a team has gone down 0-3 and forced seven games. The last time was the 2003 Blazers, who fell in Game 7 to the Mavs. 

Recovering from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series has happened in both baseball and hockey, most famously in 2004 when the Red Sox beat the Yankees to reach the World Series. At some point it will happen in basketball, but the chances are essentially next-to-none. The Wizards will be much better off by winning Game 3, just like they did last year when they went down 0-2 against the Celtics in the second round and forced a Game 7.

Beal and Otto

The Wizards are hoping to see more from both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. It was a big topic of discussion at Thursday's practice how both guys need to be more aggressive in looking for their own shot. Beal was held to just nine points in Game 2 and Porter, the NBA's third-best three-point shooter, didn't even attempt one three.

Brooks held a meeting with Beal and John Wall to discuss how they can get Beal more opportunities, but ultimately it's up to him and Porter to force the issue for themselves. It would seem likely at least one of them breaks out in Game 3. They both were great against the Raptors during the regular season and both proved throughout the year that they can score against anybody.

Too many threes

The biggest reason the Wizards are down 0-2 in this series is the three-point shot. The Raptors have hit a ton of them and even though the Wizards have been intent on stopping them, they have had no such luck.

The Raptors hit 16 threes in the first game to set a playoff franchise record. They shot 51.7 percent from long range. In Game 2, they hit 13 and 11 were in the first half. They made seven of them in the first quarter alone to the tune of 44 points, the worst defensive quarter in the playoffs in Wizards franchise history since 1965.

This is how much the three-point shot matters: the Raptors' 11 first-half threes in Game 2 helped them outscore the Wizards by 18 points by halftime, but in the second half when they hit only two threes, the Wizards edged them by seven points. Washington has to stop the three-pointer, it's that simple.

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

Wizards hope meeting between superstar backcourt can jumpstart Bradley Beal's playoff production

Wizards hope meeting between superstar backcourt can jumpstart Bradley Beal's playoff production

With an 0-2 deficit in their first-round playoff series against the Raptors, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks called for a meeting with his two All-Star guards once his team returned to Washington. Brooks met with John Wall and Bradley Beal, hoping to solve an issue that plagued them particularly in Game 2, a blowout loss.

Brooks is intent on getting more out of Beal offensively and since Wall is the quarterback of their offense, it made sense to have him present. After Beal scored nine points and shot just 3-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from three, it is clear to Brooks that the Wizards need more to climb back in this series.

"We need to have Brad play well. It's no secret that you need your best players to step up and play well," Brooks said.

Both Brooks and Wall, who each spoke after Thursday's practice, said Beal needs to be more assertive in the offense. Beal averaged 28.8 points against the Raptors through four regular season games and Wall did not play in any of them. In theory, things should be easier for him now with another star player drawing attention.

That has not been the case, however. Beal is averaging 14.0 points through two games while shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three. 

Even if his shot isn't falling, the Wizards want Beal to force the issue.

"I feel like I tell him at times that he needs to be more aggressive. Be more aggressive and look for your shot," Wall said. "He even says it that he has to be more aggressive himself. Even if he's missing or making shots. That's how he's been all season. We need that same type of player, to be aggressive and get at least 20 shots or more per game. That's when our team is probably at our best."

Beal has been limited to 14 shots per game by the Raptors when he averaged 18.1 during the regular season. Wall said he and Beal often talk within games about how Beal would like to be set up and the meeting with Brooks involved some of that dialogue.

While Beal's struggles stand out, the same could be said for Otto Porter, the Wizards' third-leading scorer. Porter was held to 12 points in Game 2 and did not attempt a single three-pointer. For a guy who finished third in the NBA in three-point percentage (44.1), that is difficult to justify.

Like Beal, the Wizards need Porter to impose his will a bit more and according to Brooks, the right lower leg strain he suffered late in the regular season is not to blame.

"He's 100 percent healthy," Brooks said. "It's always been a little bit of a problem. We want Otto to be more aggressive. We gotta run some more plays for him and the defense has done a good job on him. We need him to play well."

Like Beal, Porter had success against Toronto in the regular season. He averaged 18.5 points on 59.2 percent shooting, including a 24-point game on March 2. 

The Wizards need Beal and Porter to step up, knowing the series could hinge on if they do.

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

HISTORIC ODDS FOR TEAMS THAT GO DOWN 0-2

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3

DRAKE WON'T STOP TRASH-TALKING WIZARDS PLAYERS

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!