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Celtics embarrass Wizards 118-98: Five takeaways


Celtics embarrass Wizards 118-98: Five takeaways

What could be the worst thing for the Wizards, coming off an emotional high to beat the San Antonio Spurs earlier in the week? Being blown out by the struggling Boston Celtics on Friday, which is exactly what happened 118-98 at TD Garden.

The Wizards (3-2) jumped out to a 10-5 lead to start but it quickly went downhill after the Celtics shot 17-for-26 in the first quarter for a season-high 40 points. A team that has trouble scoring, the Celtics (2-3) averaged 19 points per game in the opening stanza for the season and led by as many as 30. 

Seven first-quarter turnovers contributed to the Wizards' downfall, three coming from John Wall, as they had trouble defending long before they could blame being winded by their own fast-paced offense. The Celtics played with more energy from start to finish, led by Jared Sullinger with 21 points, Kelly Olynyk's 19, 16 from Evan Turner and Isaiah Thomas and 12 by Jae Crowder.

Bradley Beal had his fifth consecutive game with 24 or more points to lead the Wizards, scoring a game-high 24, followed by Wall with 13 and Marcin Gortat's 10.

The bench for the Wizards, minus Drew Gooden who was a late scratch because of back spasms, was listless. It had just 13 points after three quarters and half of their total turnovers for the game with 12. Kelly Oubre made his first field goal in a regular-season game as a pro off a lob from Wall. 

  • The ball movement was absent with far too much dribbling. Jared Dudley had two turnovers as soon as he came in from passing up open looks, putting the ball on the floor and moving the ball too late in the shot clock as the Celtics overplayed passing lanes for breakaway buckets. Kris Humphries, who has had that problem in recent games, was much sharper. He took the looks he had on first glance and made 3 of 4 three-pointers.

  • When a team like Boston uses a spread five like Sullinger vs. Gortat or Nene, Wizards will continue to have matchup problems. Sullinger and Olynyk took advantage of the Wizards' bigs being late to get out to the arc to challenge. They combined to shoot 6-for-9 from three-point range. 

  • Despite having numbers repeatedly because of the Celtics' bigs staying on the perimeter still got outrebounded. Jonas Jerebko got to a missed three by Olynyk late in the third quarter over Otto Porter and Dudley. In the first quarter, when they started to pull away, Olynyk snagged an offensive rebound between four defenders for the putback and a 27-18 lead. 

  • Wall was flat and unsure of himself with his shot. On two occasions, he rebounded his own miss and had a second look uncontested in the lane. He hesitated both times. The first was an airball and the second grazed the front of the rim. And he had a season-high eight turnovers.  Wall tweeted after the game:

  • With this being the first game of a back-to-back, emptying the bench is a good idea with Oubre getting his first real action (seven points). The battle with Boston was lost and there's no need for heavy minutes from anyone (Beal played the most, 31). A win Saturday at the Atlanta Hawks, who eliminated the Wizards in six games of the conference semifinals, can make for some of what took place with this fiasco. If the Wizards get blown out again, however, their problems multiply with the Oklahoma City Thunder coming to town in a few days.

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

With a luxury tax bill of approximately $19 million on the way, the Washington Wizards gave themselves some salary relief on Monday by trading veteran guard Jodie Meeks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards attached a future second round pick and cash to the deal and in exchange received a future second round pick of their own, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

Though Meeks, 31, was due to make $3.45 million this season, his departure saves the Wizards about $7 million because of projected tax penalties. That's a lot of savings in a deal that got rid of a player who had become expendable.

Meeks had fallen out of favor with the Wizards for a variety of reasons. He was due to serve a 19-game suspension to begin the season due to performance-enhancing drugs. The ban was announced the day before their first round playoff series against the Raptors was set to begin in April.

Meeks also underperformed last season in the first year of his contract with the Wizards and requested a trade in February. This summer, Meeks exercised his player option to remain with the team.

The Wizards were not likely to count on Meeks much at all this season because they traded for Austin Rivers in June to add depth at the shooting guard position. Meeks' role was made clear by the fact he did not appear in any of the Wizards' four preseason games against NBA opponents.

Meeks' tenure in Washington was a significant disappointment. The Wizards signed him last summer in hopes he could shore up the shooting guard spot on their bench. 

Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he never earned the trust of his coaching staff. The Wizards opted to rely more heavily on starter Bradley Beal, who logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player last season.

Now, they are moving on.

Meeks leaving the organization should have little effect on the Wizards, though it does leave them with a hole on their roster that needs to be filled. They currently have 13 players, one below the league minimum. The Wizards now have 14 days to add a 14th player.

They could sign a free agent, convert one of their players on two-way contracts (Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae) or make a trade. The Meeks deal gives them a $3.45 million trade exception.


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Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

On Monday, for the first time since 2018-19 training camp began, the Wizards were complete.

Dwight Howard, who missed three weeks due to a strained piriformis muscle, participated in his first full practice with his new team. The 32-year-old signed a free agent deal with the Wizards in July, but had yet to take the court due to the injury, which began bothering him shortly before camp began on Sept. 25.

Howard had a setback on Oct. 6 and saw a specialist in New York. He received a pain injection on Tuesday and on Saturday began shooting again.

After clearing that hurdle, he was ready to be a full-go with his new teammates.

"It felt pretty good. I really gotta catch my wind and learn some of the offense. But other than that, it felt pretty good," Howard said of Day 1.

Howard practicing on Monday gives him two more days to work with before the Wizards open their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat. Both he and head coach Scott Brooks say it's too early to tell if he will be available.

"We'll see how it feels. I will do everything I can to make myself available for all 82 games," Howard said.

Howard not only has to play himself into game shape, he has to develop chemistry and timing with his new teammates. He missed all five of their preseason games.

If Howard can play, that would certainly be a positive turn of events for the Wizards. As of the end of last week, it seemed highly unlikely he would be ready when the regular season began.

But Howard turned a corner and now appears to be coming along quicker than once expected. 

"It was probably our best practice of training camp," Brooks said Monday after finally getting Howard into the mix.

"He has a natural feel. His IQ was pretty high, I was impressed with that. He picked things up."

Howard signed a two-year contract worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.