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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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USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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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.

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

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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