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Wizards take a step back, fall to last-place Atlanta Hawks as struggles vs. bad teams continue

Wizards take a step back, fall to last-place Atlanta Hawks as struggles vs. bad teams continue

The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 113-99 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Same problems continue: Somehow, it happened again.

After beating the first-place Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, Wednesday offered a unique test for a Wizards team that has made a habit of playing down to lesser opponents. The Wizards failed that test. After netting arguably their best win of the season, the Wizards followed it up with one of their worst defeats.

This wasn't the blowout loss we saw against the Nets over the weekend, but it was bad. The Hawks entered this game with the worst record in the NBA. They let pretty much all of their best players go this offseason and are on a straight shot to the lottery. They are certifiably terrible, yet they overcame a 10-point first quarter deficit to win by 14.

The Wizards came into this riding a two-game win streak. They were feeling good about themselves and said all the right things. But 48 minutes later and the Wizards lost another game to a bad team.

The Wizards are now 9-10 against teams with sub-.500 records. Those 10 losses are more than any other NBA team and one more than they had all of last season. That is not normal for a team this talented.

That record against losing teams is countered by their impressive 10-6 mark against teams at .500 or better. That's the best record in the East. If they could only figure out how to beat bad teams, they will be fine. But we have been saying that for weeks.


Wall and Beal weren't themselves: Wall finished with his third straight double-double, but he never found a real scoring rhythm. The Hawks did a good job keeping guys in front of him and playing help defense to limit his trips into the lane. There were times where Wall got right by Dennis Schroder and others, but they weren't as frequent as we are used to.

The numbers bear that out. Wall shot just 3-for-9 and was limited to 10 points to go along with his 11 assists. Wall did a good job setting others up, but what makes him great is his ability to also affect the game as a scorer. That impact wasn't there against the Hawks.

Bradley Beal was also off. He shot just 7-for-19 (36.8%) despite finishing with 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. Since Beal went off for 85 points in two games on Dec. 5 and 7, he's shot just 38.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three in 10 games. That's just not him.

Otto, Oubre and Keef stayed hot: This wasn't the best game for the Wizards, but they continued to see encouraging signs from forwards Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Markieff Morris. Porter had 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He wasn't great in his first game back, but has averaged 17.3 points in his last three games while shooting 57.5 percent shooting.

Oubre put in 11 points and hit 3-of-5 from three. He has reached double figures in 24 of 35 games this season. Last year he had 24 double-digit scoring nights in 79 games. Morris came out hot again with 10 points in eight minutes and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. He went 2-for-3 from three.

Morris, though, had four turnovers and another technical. Though he has only played in 27 of the Wizards' 35 games, Morris has seven technicals and leads the Eastern Conference. Only DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have more. Cousins has nine and the other two have eight.


Collins is impressive: Atlanta may have found a good one in rookie John Collins. The 19th overall pick, Collins affected this game in all sorts of ways despite being held to eight points, below his 11.7 per game average. He's very fast and agile for a 6-foot-10 forward. There were several sequences where he made plays at both rims back-to-back.

Collins finished as a +18 and also had eight rebounds. He got Beal twice on chasedown blocks and affected many shots along the way. The Hawks have a long road back to legitimacy after losing Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway, Jr., but Collins is already proving himself to be a worthy building block.

Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before hosting James Harden and the Rockets, one of the best teams in the NBA. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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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:


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.

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

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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.





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