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12 games more than enough time for Wizards to self-correct for playoff run

12 games more than enough time for Wizards to self-correct for playoff run

In an 82-game season, every team hits a skid and it usually happens more than once. After a 2-8 start, the Wizards are in the midst of another as they've lost 4 of 5 heading into Wednesday's home game with the Atlanta Hawks.

They were in control of most of the tiebreakers in the East, which could come down to them for playoff seeding if they have the same record as the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors.

The problem is, after routing the Raptors on their floor with a chance to win that series, the Wizards were routed at Verizon Center post-All-Star break. With a chance to seal their series with the Boston Celtics on Monday, the Wizards lost on the road to fall in a 2-2tie  and will lose that tiebreaker to them because the next deciding factor is conference record. Boston's is better.

Even the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors go through stretches when questions arise about their championship mettle. It has happened at around the same time for Cavs for the second season in a row, and when the Warriors lost 5 of 7 recently. 

The Warriors, by the way, are 56-14 and are missing their best player in Kevin Durant. They'll be fine. Kevin Love just returned from injury for the Cavs. They'll be fine, too. 

Everyone is chasing them, and even though the Wizards (42-28) have missed some major opportunities, they're virtually assured a top four seed -- which means home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- at worst. Given the projections about this team going into the season, and most certainly after the first month, this isn't a time to panic.

They have a good chance of holding onto the No. 3 spot and staying ahead of the No. 4 Raptors who they lead by just one game with 12 left in their season. The Celtics have a soft schedule and are likely to maintain their No. 2 spot, but Toronto doesn't have an easy road. Plus they're playing without their best playmaker in Kyle Lowry who is out with a wrist injury.

The pressure should be off the Wizards to do too much. They can accept their fate -- is settling for the third spot in the East now considered a letdown? -- worry only about Toronto and game plan for the postseason. 

What has to happen?

– The two best players, John Wall and Bradley Beal, have to be the two best players. In his last five games, Wall has shot 29 of 75 (39%). A double-double machine, he has only managed two in that stretch. Beal is 15-for-41 from three-point range (35.7%). 

– The top three-point shooter for most the season, Otto Porter, has been absent. He's getting more attention in coverages and requires being set up to be effective. Porter isn't a one-on-one player who can get his own shot. If there's not adequate pace and ball movement in the offense, Porter suffers. And defenses are no longer just giving him space to take what he wants when he wants. With the exception of the loss to the Charlotte Hornets when Porter was 4 of 9 from three, he's not getting off three-point looks to open the floor.

– There was a concerted effort made to get Marcin Gortat low-post touches to start games, especially when he had a size advantage against of Al Horford of the Celtics. That's how they got out on the right foot in their "funeral game" win over Boston because Horford doesn't have the size to deal with true fives on deep catches. In these last five games, Gortat hasn't scored more than eight points in any of them, and as he has been disengaged offensively it has tranlslated to the defensive end. 

– The one-on-one defense has been better since the five-game West coast trip, but it's still not nearly good enough. The 20 offensive rebounds from the Celtics is an indication that the Wizards are slow to react to the ball, out of position and aren't putting bodies on the opponent to prevent the easy putbacks.

– Take a look at all of the hustle stats listed by the NBA.com/stats SVU tracking, and the Wizards are middle of the pack or at the bottom. They were No. 2 in the league in deflections per game for the season, only behind Golden State, and in this stetch they're 17th at 15.6. The Wizards are 19th in loose balls recovered at 7.4 per game. The Houston Rockets are No. 1 at 13.5 to get an idea of the difference. That's about six extra possessions per game gained or lost.

Almost all of these problems are fixable. Communication, hustle and toughness can be controlled. The missed shots cannot but they can generate better looks for themselves by getting those extra possesions that put them in transition. And the bench is playing significantly better.

Despite all of the road games, if the Wizards are truly worthy of a No. 3 seed they're still in solid position to get it. But it wouldn't be the NBA if getting there were easy.

MORE WIZARDS: Oubre, Smith give hope to Wizards' improving 2nd unit

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

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

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Markieff Morris goes 1-on-1; no All-NBA votes for Beal?

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Markieff Morris goes 1-on-1; no All-NBA votes for Beal?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Wizards power forward Markieff Morris. Morris looked back on the 2017-18 season and gave his side on what needs to be fixed.

Chris and Chase Hughes also had a heated debate about Bradley Beal not receiving any All-NBA votes. Chase is an awards voter and defended his ballot. Chris wasn't having any of it.

They also went into the conference finals and what it would mean if the Rockets beat the Warriors.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!