Capitals

Dave Johnson: 3-Game Win Streak Remains Elusive

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Dave Johnson: 3-Game Win Streak Remains Elusive

Saturday, February 20, 2010, 10:30 PM
Wizards-Raptors Highlights and Flip's Response

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comToronto----One is the loneliest number but for the Washington Wizards three is the hardest to get. With a 20-7 run to close the game the Toronto Raptors secured a 109-104 victory and spoiled the Wizards bid for its first three-game winning streak of the season.For the second time in three games Andray Blatche led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points. In an effort to get the game back from the Raptors, Blatche scored six of his points in the final 1:21 of the game including a strong post move on Andrea Bargnani that led to a layup to bring the Wizards to within three points at 105-102.We had opportunities, said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. We played hard and put ourselves in a position to win. We just could not make that big shot to withstand their momentum.Fort Washington, Marylands Jarrett Jack led the Raptors with 23 points and eight assists and proved to be the catalyst in the Raptors comeback. With 6:35 left in the fourth quarter the Wizards had a 97-89 advantage when Jack returned to the game.Jack then took over by scoring eleven of the Raptors final 20-points.The Wizards struggled with Jacks drives to the basket and at one point he scored seven straight points to cut a nine-point Wizards advantage to two points at 100-98 with 3:54 to go in the game. Then Bargnani, who added 18 points on the night, changed the game with his length as he frustrated the Wizards by protecting the rim. With 3:33 remaining, Bargnani blocked a Blatche layup attempt that would have given the Wizards a four-point cushion.Instead Hedo Turkoglu scored two of his 16 points on a driving reverse layup on the baseline to tie the game at 100. Then it was back to the defensive work of Bargnani as he blocked a Randy Foye layup attempt that would have given the Wizards the lead back with 2:23 left in the fourth quarter.Bargnani denied the Wizards again with 1:54 left on the clock as he rejected an Al Thornton drive to the basket to preserve the Raptors 105-100 lead. The Wizards did not settle for jumpers. They attacked the basket but the seven-foot frame of Bargnani was a problem.Still the chances were there for the Wizards. Again attacking the basket, Blatche was able to weave around Bargnani and work the baseline for a reverse layup attempt with 41-second left. Instead Blatches shot bounced several times on the rim but did not fall and the Raptors lead stayed at 105-102.With 14.9 seconds left Turkoglu saved the game for the Raptors. Turkoglu is known for his dramatic game-winning shots, but this time it was a rebound that proved decisive. Amazingly Jack missed a driving layup but Turkoglu was able to wiggle and grab the rebound to again allow the Raptors to stay in front 105-102.The Wizards just could not find a way to fight through the fourth quarter on a night when they did so many things well. The ball again moved as the Wizards recorded 20 assists marking the third straight game they reached the 20-assist mark as a team.The Wizards also again showed resilience on defense. The Raptors have now scored at least 100-points in twenty straight games, but in the third quarter the Wizards become more disruptive on defense and forced the Raptors into six turnovers.The energy on defense allowed the Wizards to turn a seven-point half time deficit into a three point advantage at 88-85 heading into the final quarter. While Raptors shot 50-percent from the field in the third quarter, the Wizards outscored them 31-21 and did not allow any second-chance points.The loss to the Raptors marked the sixth-time this season the Wizards failed to extend a winning streak to three games

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Regardless of what happens in Game 7, these are not the 'same old Caps'

Regardless of what happens in Game 7, these are not the 'same old Caps'

These are not the same old Caps

Heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Monday, there was a lot of handwringing around Washington and with good reason. The Capitals were facing elimination for the first time this postseason. Of course the fans were on edge; no one wanted this run to end.

But even though the Caps are competing for the conference crown and have gotten past their archrivals to get here, the refrains leading into Game 6 were the same ones we’ve heard from past years.

 “They don’t want it enough.”

“There’s no heart.”

“Totally outcoached.”

“Chokers.”

And perhaps most damning, “Same old Caps.”

Stop it already.

Seriously, how can anyone have watched this postseason and walked away thinking this is the same Caps team?

Does no one remember the start of the season? Some people didn’t even think they would make the playoffs. Others were advocating the team trade Alex Ovechkin and start over. Yet here they are.

Finally, finally they got past the second round hump. They beat the Pittsburgh Penguins—ending their two-year reign as Stanley Cup Champions—and handed Mike Sullivan his first ever series loss as the Penguins head coach.

And no, Mike Wilbon, just because they made it past the second round doesn’t mean it’s OK to lose in the Conference Finals. But considering how they got there, they showed they have at the very least changed the narrative surrounding the Capitals.

Washington lost the first two games of its series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round and went on to win four straight to advance. In the second round, they faced the two-time defending champions, a team they had beaten only once in the playoffs in franchise history and a team that had not lost a playoff series since 2015.

And they won.

And yet, people are acting like nothing changed with the Caps. Why? Because they lost three in a row to Tampa Bay?

OK, you've got a point. What kind of a team loses three straight in the playoffs? Hard-nosed teams with tough coaches that play the right way like Columbus or Anaheim wouldn’t let that happen to them. Oh, actually Columbus lost four in a row to the Caps and the Ducks got swept in the first round. Never mind.

Well, certainly not a team with a championship history like the Los Angeles Kings. Oh wait, never mind, the got swept by Vegas. Bad example.

Well, surely an original six team with a championship pedigree like the Boston Bruins would never let that happen. Oh yeah, they lost four straight to the same Tampa Bay team.

OK, OK, but were any of those teams really contenders this year? I mean, none of those teams were as good as Winnipeg and they won’t let themselves lose three in a row in the playoffs.

That’s because they lost four straight to Vegas in the conference final.

You see where this is going, right?

It just boggles the mind that anyone could see the game plan Barry Trotz put together in Game 6 in Pittsburgh, without three top-six forwards including Nicklas Backstrom, and win in overtime and still complain that he is always outcoached in the playoffs. He certainly wasn’t outcoached in that game or that series.

It’s baffling that anyone can see how Washington rallied past Columbus after losing Game 1 and Game 2, recovered from a disastrous Game 1 to Pittsburgh and won the first two games in Tampa Bay against a favored Lightning team and complain that this team “doesn’t want it enough.”

Chokers don’t advance to the third round. Chokers don’t beat the two-time defending champions when no one else could. Chokers don’t force seven games against a Tampa Bay team that finished off both of their prior series in just five games.

Just stop. Find a new storyline to push because this one is lazy and played out. It’s been done.

Don’t get me wrong, losing four in a row after winning Game 1 and Game 2 on the road would have really stung. With the history this team has, the fact that they finally got past Pittsburgh gave this team a feel of destiny. If they go on to lose Game 7 and end their run without a Stanley Cup or even a conference crown to show for it, that would be disappointing. No question about it.

But to say these are the “same old Caps” if they lose to Tampa Bay? That’s ridiculous. They have already put those demons to rest. Three straight losses to the Lightning don’t change that and neither will whatever happens in Game 7.

Regardless of what happens on Wednesday, whether the Caps win or lose, no one should come out and say these are the same old Caps. They have already proven that’s not the case.

Those Caps are gone. Now let’s see how far these Caps can go.

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Ian Mahinmi's season...

Player: Ian Mahinmi

Position: Center

Age: 31

2017-18 salary: $15.9 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.9 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 55.6 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 70.3 FT%, 55.6 eFG%, 107 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/12 vs. Magic - 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, steal, assist, 7-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 FT

Season review: After missing 51 games in the 2016-17 season, the first of his four-year contract with the Wizards, center Ian Mahinmi managed to stay healthy for the entirety of 2017-18. He appeared in 77 games and gave the Wizards a good look at the player they signed to a $64 million deal in free agency.

Mahinmi was a mainstay in the Wizards' rotation as their backup center. While Marcin Gortat started all 82 games at center, Mahinmi at times got the nod late in games as head coach Scott Brooks favored his defense.

Though Mahinmi was available all season, he still fell short of the numbers he put up in his last year in Indiana, in 2015-16. Mahinmi's minutes per game were his fewest since 2010-11, and his points and rebounds were his fewest since 2013-14. 

Mahinmi's numbers were affected by his low minutes, as he could never quite crack the top six or seven spots in Brooks' rotation. His numbers per 36 minutes, however, were on par with how he played in Indiana before the Wizards signed him to a big contract.

2015-16 per 36: 13.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.3 spg

2017-18 per 36: 11.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.2 spg

That, of course, only means so much. Mahinmi may have been relatively efficient with his minutes, but the consistency wasn't there to convince Brooks and the coaching staff to increase his role.

It will be interesting to see what the team plans for Mahinmi next season, as this summer could bring changes to their frontcourt. Both of their starting big men - Gortat and Markieff Morris - have one year left on their contracts. If Gortat in particular is dealt, that could open the door for Mahinmi to earn more playing time.

The Wizards could also add to their frontcourt through the draft. If they get a rim-protecting big man in the first round, that could be bad news for Mahinmi's playing time. Like several Wizards players, Mahinmi's role is up in the air entering this summer.

Potential to improve: Finishing around rim, consistency, limiting fouls

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

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