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Wizards starters have best net rating of any lineup in the NBA even before Markieff Morris returns

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Wizards starters have best net rating of any lineup in the NBA even before Markieff Morris returns

The Wizards have the best five-man lineup of any in the NBA seven games into the season. It's made of their starters in that span – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre and Marcin Gortat. 

That group has outscored opponents by 69 points on the floor together, according to the latest stats from Basketball-Reference.com. 

Note that immediately trailing the Wizards are the Warriors, defending NBA champs, with two former MVPs and four max-salary-level players among the five. 

MORE WIZARDS: Hot start to NBA Power Rankings

The Wizards starters have logged 125.7 minutes together on the floor despite only being intact for six games (Porter sat out the Wizards' loss to the Suns with illness). Only two other five-man lineups have played more minutes together. 

That's all about to change when Markieff Morris returns to the starting lineup after recovering from offseason hernia surgery and serving a one-game suspension. 

As Wizards reporter Chase Hughes noted earlier this week, the Wizards have fared well with Oubre slotting into Morris's place, but re-inserting Morris into the starting five could make the team even more dangerous because it allows Oubre to anchor the bench.

Swapping in Morris shouldn't disrupt that success and pushing Oubre to the bench will only help the second unit. With Morris' return getting closer and closer, the Wizards have to feel good about how they have operated during his absence and the potential of their roster once he is back in the fold.

The potential Hughes references is the Wizards' ability to swap Oubre and Morris in and out with great production from each.

Last season, the Wall-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat lineup outscored opponents by 8.1 points per 100 possessions while playing 69 games together. That's a huge sample size (1347.4 minutes) of consistently high production. For some context, that was second best in the Eastern Conference among lineups that played more than 250 minutes together.

Subbing in Oubre bumped that net rating to +18.3, albeit over 39 games. Furthermore, playing the super-small "death lineup" of Wall-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Morris, which the Wizards used in 30 games, put up a +15.8 net rating per 100 possessions. 

So the moral of this story is that the Wizards have two very good options at power forward. When Morris returns, the Wizards can use Oubre to anchor the bench or play alongside Morris very effectively in a small lineup. 

It's a good place to be just in time for the Cavaliers. And if Oubre continues to excel, he could force his way into the starting conversation down the road. 

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Wizards vs. Heat: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Heat: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters and the Miami Heat on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Wizards are heating up

The Wizards have won a season-high four straight games as they enter Friday night's matchup with the Heat. In all four of those games they have held opponents to under 100 points. Only the Celtics have had a longer such streak this season, they got to eight. If the Wizards make it one more game, they will push to five for the first time since 2015.

Five straight wins for the Wizards would also get them closer to some franchise history. The longest win streak in Wizards/Bullets history is just nine games. That's tied with the Orlando Magic for the shortest-longest win streak in franchise history for an NBA team. Five wins would put them more than halfway there.


Will Gortat bounce back?

Marcin Gortat has had some honest analysis of himself and the Wizards recently and he couldn't have been happy with his outing on Wednesday night. Gortat was held to just two points on 0-for-6 shooting and five rebounds. Meanwhile, his Heat counterpart Hassan Whiteside had 15 points and 21 rebounds.

Gortat is having a solid year overall, but consistency on the boards has eluded him. He hasn't reached double figures in rebounds in five straight games. In two of his last three games, he has topped out at two points. Look for Gortat to be extra-motivated against Miami.


How will the Heat respond?

After a close game in Miami on Wednesday, the Wizards and Heat will run it back on Friday night. Given the Heat lost the first meeting in this home-and-home set, they likely value this opportunity to get even. Add into the equation that the Heat thought the officiating favored the Wizards on Wednesday and they might be pretty fired up.

It's very difficult to sweep a good team like the Heat in a home-and-home series, so the Wizards will have their work cut out for them. If they can hold them off again and swing a win, the Wizards will be sitting pretty at 10-5 just in time for their road trip.


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LeBron James admits he's playing too many minutes after Draymond Green pointed it out

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LeBron James admits he's playing too many minutes after Draymond Green pointed it out

With Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson and Derrick Rose currently injured, LeBron James has had to take on a bigger workload with the Cavaliers. He's leading the NBA in minutes per game (38.1) and that's despite being 32 with his 33rd birthday coming up next month.

The minutes are so high for LeBron that Draymond Green of the Warriors is talking about it to the media. He was interviewed by USA Today recently and said: 

"My concern would be that LeBron is playing so many minutes right now... Yeah, he’s super human but eventually his super human powers go away."


Green is known for speaking his mind and LeBron doesn't always agree with him, but in this case he does. Here is what LeBron told Cleveland.com when he heard Green's comments:

“Draymond’s right... We want to get those minutes down for sure. But as of right now, we’ve had two point guards out and we’ve had some different lineup changes, so, I’ve had to play more minutes than I would like, and more minutes than my teammates would like me to have.”

Meanwhile, LeBron is showing no signs of slowing down. He's averaging 28.3 points, 8.7 assists, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks, all while shooting a career-best 57.9 percent from the field. 

Almost 40 minutes per night, however, is way too much and it comes into question how long LeBron can keep this up. Believe it or not, LeBron will slow down at some point and heavy minutes is one way to accelerate that process.

Now that LeBron has acknowledged he's playing too much, it will be interesting to see if Cavs coach Tyronn Lue makes an adjustment. It's not an easy call because the Cavs aren't playing very well right now.