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Wizards fall to Heat in Miami, lose for first time in preseason

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Wizards fall to Heat in Miami, lose for first time in preseason

The Washington Wizards lost to the Miami Heat 117-115 in NBA preseason action on Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena.

How it happened:

On Wednesday night, the Heat sat Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside, giving the Wizards yet another matchup that felt even more meaningless than the average preseason game.

While the Heat held out their stars, the Wizards played their regulars. The Wizards, in fact, rode their main rotation guys for the entire game. Tomas Satoransky didn't play and neither did Carrick Felix or Donald Sloan, the two guys fighting for the final roster spot. That was surprising, given the Wizards have a tough decision to make.

RELATED: WHO SHOULD START AT POWER FORWARD?

Jason Smith started at power forward and had his best game of the preseason. He finished with a ridiculous 20 points in 22 minutes on 7-of-8 shooting.

John Wall had 16 points (7-for-12 FG) to go along with eight assists in 26 minutes. Bradley Beal had 15 points and four assists in 27 minutes. Otto Porter had 11 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes despite an uncharacteristic three turnovers. Marcin Gortat had eight points with three rebounds. Oubre finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes.

What it means: 

Judging by Brooks' minutes distribution, the Wizards may have treated this game as their final preseason warmup.

It would not be a surprise if they rested some of their starters on Friday and instead let guys like Felix and Sloan get extended minutes. 

RELATED: WHO IS THE NBA'S BEST POINT GUARD?

Smith finds his stroke: 

Smith hadn't shot well before Wednesday night after breaking out last year as a three-point threat.

Before facing the Heat, Smith was shooting 35.7 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from three. Immediately, it was clear things were different in this game. He knocked down his first two threes and was 3-for-4 at the end of the first quarter. By the third quarter he had four threes in his first 15 minutes of play.

Smith's ability to shoot from three allows the Wizards to space out their offense much like they do with Markieff Morris on the floor. There were times when Smith was on the perimeter, spreading out the options for Wall with Beal and Porter also hunting outside looks.

Frazier looks good:

This was the first time we got to see Frazier, who was sidelined from the first three games with a groin strain. He had a heck of a debut with nine assists in 21 minutes.

Frazier found a rhythm early, but was dishing out dimes left and right in the fourth quarter. He had a nice bounce pass to Oubre for a layup and a crisp pass to Mike Scott at the elbow. Frazier also hit a smooth fadeaway with 5:20 left and took a charge with 4:43 remaining. For a guy who has been injured, that was a good example of why Brooks calls him a "gritty" player.

Looking Ahead:

The Wizards head to New York for their fifth and final preseason game. It's set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff at Madison Square Garden.

There's a good chance the Wizards rest some of their best players.

We'll see if the Knicks play Kristaps Porzingis.

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Wizards hope this time will be different in Game 5 on road

Wizards hope this time will be different in Game 5 on road

The Wizards were in a very similar spot and less than one year ago. After dropping the first two games on the road against the Celtics in the second round of the 2017 playoffs, the Wizards held serve to lock up the series at 2-2. They then lost in Boston in Game 5 and ultimately dropped the series.

This year the Wizards find themselves at 2-2 against the Raptors, this time in the first round. Again, they are on the road for Game 5, knowing it will be pivotal and could determine the series.

This time, they hope for a much different result.

"It's super important," forward Markieff Morris said. "Ideally, what we're looking for us to come back [to D.C.] up 3-2 with a chance to close it out on our home floor."

The Wizards value continuity more than most teams in the NBA. According to Basketball Reference's roster continuity chart, they are the only team in the NBA to retain 75 percent of their roster year-over-year in each of the past three seasons.

The Wizards have kept 82 percent of their roster from the 2016-17 season. Only three teams have held onto more players: the Spurs, Blazers and, ironically, the Raptors.

Continuity can have its pitfalls. It can breed complacency and, for certain personality-types, discord. Things can very easily go stale.

But in this case, the fact these players have been in this same scenario before and know very well how important Game 5 is could work to the Wizards' advantage.

"I definitely will bring it up. I won't dwell on it. Just bring it up. We have to do better," head coach Scott Brooks said. "Hopefully those experiences will pay for us and give us that toughness that we don't want to be on the losing side of it again."

If the Wizards didn't already know the importance of Game 5, they could look at the historical odds. Teams that win Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 go on to win the series 82.8 percent of the time with a 164-34 all-time record. Teams that lead a seven-game series 3-2 go on to win the series 84.8 percent (251-45) of the time.

The Wizards could also look at the home/road numbers. When series are tied at 2-2, the home team has a 22-13 record in Game 5 since 2003 and a series record of 26-9.

The Raptors not only won the first two games of this series at home, but they tied the Rockets for the best home record in the NBA this season at 34-7. One of those defeats were to the Wizards.

Washington, however, has to get over a hump on the road in the playoffs. Though they have won eight consecutive home postseason games, they have lost six straight on the road. The last one they won was in Atlanta in Game 6 of the first round last year. They did not win on the road against the Celtics in the second round and as a result lost the series.

Morris and Brooks offered keys to breaking that streak.

"On the road, you've gotta really lock in," Morris said. "I was telling the guys yesterday that when you're up 20 it's only really 10 when you're on the road because they have the crowd to give them momentum in the game."

"We have to have a better start. We have to bring that edge on the road," Brooks said. "We haven't seemed to get into an offensive rhythm there. I thought the second game actually helped. We were down by 23 or so and then really started moving the ball and attacking their feet. Even though we didn't win the game, it gave us some confidence."

Brooks was referring to Game 2 wheN the Wizards outscored the Raptors 61-54 in the second half. They held Toronto to just two threes during that stretch, including zero in the third quarter.

That may have been a breakthrough. Now they have to do it for 48 minutes.

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PREVIEW: WIZARDS-RAPTORS GAME 5

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: 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 Wednesday night in Game 5 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 5: WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT TORONTO RAPTORS

Series: Series tied 2-2
Where: Air Canada Centre
Tip-off: 7:02 p.m. (earlier tipoff than usual)
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Pivotal game

The Wizards have done their part in winning both games at home to even up this series at 2-2. Now comes Game 5, which could very well determine who takes this series.

Winners of Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 hold a 164-34 (.828) record all-time. That means teams that lose Game 5 come back to win the final two games and the series only 17.2 percent of the time.

The Wizards need to get this one and they know all too well why. Last year they were in this same position in their second round series against the Boston Celtics. They went down 0-2, won the next two games but then lost Game 5 and ultimately the series in seven games.

Road warriors

The Wizards will also have to do something they have yet to do in a while in Game 5 and that is win on the road. Though they have won eight straight home postseason games, they have lost their last six on the road. It goes back to that Celtics series when Washington lost all four games in Boston. The last time they won on the road in the playoffs was Game 6 last year against the Hawks.

The Raptors are particularly tough in Toronto. They were 34-7 this season at home, tied with the Houston Rockets for the best record in the NBA. 

The recent historical odds are also in Toronto's favor. Since 2003, the home team has won each of the first four games in a seven-game series 35 times. In those series, the home team has held a Game 5 record of 22-13 and a series record of 26-9. If the Raptors get Game 5, history will be on their side to go on to win the series.

Can Otto get going?

Games 3 and 4 in Washington saw All-Star Bradley Beal break out to score 28 and 31 points. Will we see the same from Otto Porter before this series is over?

Game 4 seemed to suggest that is possible. After scoring only one point in the first half, Porter erupted for 10 points in the third quarter alone. Though he only scored 12 points in the game overall, it was the most aggressive we have seen him all series.

Porter is averaging just 10.3 points per game through four playoff games. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three, and as long as the Wizards are winning he won't complain, but Porter can do much more than that on offense. If he starts scoring more, the Wizards will be tough to stop.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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