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Giannis' paint persistence remains problematic for Wizards

Giannis' paint persistence remains problematic for Wizards

Giannis Antetokounmpo, at 6-10 with ball-handling ability, is a matchup problem for every NBA team. After the Wizards did a good job containing him in their first meeting, the floodgates opened in a 27-point loss in the rematch. Tonight, they're meeting for the second game in a row but this one is at Verizon Center. 

Antetokounmpo had a career-high 39 points in that 123-96 win, the most lopsided loss of the Wizards' season.  The Bucks scored 73 points in the first half alone. 

"He scores all of his points in the paint," said Otto Porter, who is tasked with covering the small forward with the skill set of a guard. "He gets a lot of his points getting to the free-throw line, transition. Take three dribbles and he's already at the goal. With his ability to get to the rim, we definitely got to clog the paint a lot more than what we did. Once he gets in the paint, we got to make it tough for him. We got to come crashing down on him."

Antetokounmpo is tied with Wall for the second-most points in transition per game in the NBA (5.7) behind Russell Westbrook (6.8). 

He shot 12-for-19 which included 10-for-13 at the rim  And being in that deep led to him shooting 15 of 17 from the foul line.

"We got to go back and do what we did the first game, Porter said. "Plug the paint, make him kick it out to non-shooters."

Even when bigger defenders such as Markieff Morris, who is 6-10, switched onto Antetokounmpo, he was given the real estate too easily. 

Anteotokounmpo scored 28 and shot 11-for-18 in the first meeting Dec. 10, won 110-105 by the Wizards when he made 10 fewer trips to the foul line. He still was effective. He shot 9 of 12 inside the paint.

"We were hitting more, checking him every time he went around the court," said backup forward Kelly Oubre, who also spends time defending him. "We didn't let him freelance and get to where he wanted to go. He felt comfortable (on Friday). It was two different games."

[RELATED: Wizards vs. Bucks: How and what to watch]

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How to Watch Wizards vs. Pacers NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 55-point game vs. Bucks

How to Watch Wizards vs. Pacers NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 55-point game vs. Bucks

Sunday night was supposed to feature another exciting Wizard’s game against the Indiana Pacers. However, because the NBA season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, games are not being played as planned. 

Although fans can’t tune into Wizards games in a traditional sense, just like everything else in the world right now, there is a virtual alternative. The Wizards vs. Pacers game will still go on as planned but will be an NBA 2K20 video game simulation. 

This format allows fans to watch a broadcast of the video game where the computer has control. Additionally, the game will feature commentary from NBC Sports Washington’s Wizards experts.

The Wizards fun continues after the game ends, as there is a replay of a game against the Bucks from earlier this season when Bradley Beal hit 55 points in his second of back-to-back 50-points games.

Here's everything you need to join the Wizards action on Sunday night. 

When: 

Sunday, April 5 at 7 PM ET

Where:

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule

07:00 PM: NBA 2K20 Simulation: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (P)

08:00 PM: NBA Classics: Milwaukee Bucks @ Wizards (R)

10:30 PM: NBA 2K20 Simulation: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (R)

11:30 PM: NBA Classics: Brooklyn Nets @ Wizards (R)

Starting lineups

Wizards: TBD
Pacers: TBD

If you miss the NBA basketball season like all do, tune into NBC Sports Washington on Sunday night to experience the best alternative to a live game. 

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Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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Wizards use strong finish against 76ers to pull out another 2K simulation win

Wizards use strong finish against 76ers to pull out another 2K simulation win

In yet another close finish, the Wizards won their fifth game in seven tries in Friday night's NBA 2K simulation. They managed to take down the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 74-69, who were no doubt hindered by the absence of young star Ben Simmons. 

Bradley Beal starred with 28 points in the game, including 10 in the first quarter, but it was Shabazz Napier who sealed the deal with eight points in the decisive fourth quarter. With 30 seconds left in the game, Napier rebounded his own miss and found Thomas Bryant for a short jumper to seal the victory.

Napier finished with 14 points and 6 assists, and he and Beal combined to go a perfect 8-8 at the free throw line in the game.

The young guard also dished it out, including one of the game's biggest highlights when he found a flying Rui Hachimura above the rim.

Here are some key takeaways from the Wizards' latest win.

Strong runs bookend the game

The Wizards struggled in the middle of the game, but they both started and finished strong.

Buoyed by their strong defense, the Wizards took advantage of Ben Simmons' injury to completely stifle the 76ers early. After the first quarter, Washington led 19-10 and looked like they might run away with the game. 

After allowing the 76ers to chip away in the second and third quarters, the Wizards found themselves trailing midway through the fourth quarter. Then, Napier and Beal took over once more, combining for 14 points in the quarter during a key 18-4 Wizards run.

Strong paint performance

The Wizards allowed Philadelphia to record seven blocks in the game, but otherwise dominated in the paint. Even without Ben Simmons on the floor, 76ers center Joel Embiid couldn't get going, finishing the first half with zero points.

On the other side of the court, the Wizards saw great production from their frontcourt. Thomas Bryant has been consistently pulling in rebounds in recent games, and that remained true with nine more boards Friday night.

Moe Wagner was all over the place for the Wizards as well, just missing a double-double. He finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with 3 blocks.

Overall, the Wizards outscored the 76ers 46-32 in the paint in the game. 

Wizards overcome lack of 3-point shooting

In the era of pace-and-space, it's rare to see a team win without shooting the ball well. But that's exactly what happened Friday night. While the Wizards enjoyed a big advantage in the paint, they struggled to find their shots from beyond the arc.

Washington made just two 3-point shots in the game, attempting only six. Bradley Beal missed his only attempt from long range, and notorious marksman Davis Bertans finished the game with zero total shot attempts.

The 76ers' shooting night wasn't much better. Philadelphia finished 6-of-18 on three-point shots, with Tobias Harris making half of those thanks to a 3-for-5 night.

Other parting thoughts

Beal may not have had the game's biggest highlights, but even in the virtual world he cannot be stopped from scoring.

Scoring 28 points in 26 minutes is the definition of a video game statline. His 12 points in the third quarter were crucial in keeping the Wizards in the lead.

Rui Hachimura may not have had his best statistical performance, but one of the top rookies in the league managed to impress with his court vision.

There are few things more beautiful in (virtual) basketball than great defense turning into easy transition offense.

Having won five of their last seven games, the 2K Wizards will head to Indiana Sunday to take on a quality virtual Pacers team. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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