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Morning tip: Graduation day for Wizards stars John Wall, Bradley Beal in Game 7 vs. Celtics

Morning tip: Graduation day for Wizards stars John Wall, Bradley Beal in Game 7 vs. Celtics

Every playoff game is crucial, but the finality of Game 7 will hit most of the Wizards in a hostile environment tonight at TD Garden. Ian Mahinmi knows what it's like when he was with the Indiana Pacers, and he was a vital piece off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA championship team that upset the Miami Heat.

That was Game 6 of the Finals when he was in Dallas, but that crucial victory came on the road. The Wizards are tasked with having to win at a venue where they've only found creative ways to lose in the last few years.

“Game 7s are fun," said Mahinmi, who was the starting center for the Pacers in a Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the first round last year, a reserve in 2014 when the Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks in a first-round Game 7 and in a Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in the 2013 conference finals.

"They’re easier to prepare for because it’s kind of you have to go out there and give it everything you have. It’s plain and simple. There is no, ‘I’m going to save this for the fourth quarter,' because if you lose, you go home. Mentally, you just relax and go out there and do what you’ve been doing all year. It’s kind of a privilege to get to that point where one game is going to decide your whole season, basically. I’m going to tell those guys, ‘It’s nothing to overthink. Just go out there and play hard.’ We’ve been playing hard. More of the same.”

Mahinmi's role has been minor, but the 6-11 center's presence is big. That he was able to get back on the court after a left calf strain ended his regular season a game early is an accomplishment itself. Mahinmi missed the first-round triumph over the Hawks in six games and remained on the shelf for two games when this series with the Celtics began. 

While his production hasn't been eye-popping (3.5 points, 2.8 rebounds), just having another big body on the floor for 13 minutes per game to give Marcin Gortat a breather has helped. And it has kept Markieff Morris, who has a tendency to pick up quick fouls, from getting into trouble since he doesn't have to play as much as the backup five. 

[RELATED: Morris on injury before Game 7: '(Expletive) this ankle']

Jason Smith's time, however, has been cut which was the case in the regular season when Mahinmi missed 51 games after procedures on both knees.

When Mahinmi was in Indiana as the No. 1 seed in the East, they met the Wizards in the semifinals and were pushed to six games by the then-No. 5 seed. John Wall and Bradley Beal were first-timers in the postseason, and Indiana simply loaded up the paint to prevent drives to the basket and forced shooters to beat them.

Other than Beal, who was being blanketed by an elite defender in Paul George, the Wizards were short-handed. Otto Porter was a rookie. Wall wasn't enough off a threat from range and although Trevor Ariza was a 40% three-point shooter he couldn't put the ball on the floor or create for others. When the Pacers ran him off the line, the Wizards' offense was out of options.

The Wizards never scored more than 102 points in any of the games. In fact, they were held to 63 in a brutal Game 3 defeat and 82 and 80 points as well. 

That's no longer an issue for Washington which has a more diversified offense with a third scorer and a potential fourth one in Porter and Morris. And both can spread the floor with their three-point shot and have Bojan Bogdanovic coming off the bench to add another weapon.

Though as a team they haven't shot the ball well from three-point range which had been a strength all season, the Wizards have scored 111, 119, 116 and 121 vs. Boston.

Beal is coming off a 33-point explosion in a 92-91 win over the Celtics to force Game 7, and that included a momentum-changing three with his team down by five with 94 seconds left. Wall hasn't always shot the ball well to start games but he has finished strong most of the time, and no shot was bigger than his game-winning three-pointer at the end.

“Those guys are not babies anymore. They're closers. They're proven closers," Mahinmi said. "You could tell, at the end of the game, there is no hesitation from none of those two guys. Bradley came up and shot that three with full confidence like the whole entire stadium knew it was going in. And then he went right back at it, drove, floater. All those shots were no hesitation and you can tell from the bench, from being on the floor, those guys are now calm when it comes down to taking last shots and game-winning shots.”

[RELATED: Bradley Beal smart to go after Celtics' bigs on switches]

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

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

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $3.3 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.5 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 86.3 FT%, 49.1 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 11/29 at Sixers - 21 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5-for-11 FG, 3-for-6 3PT, 8-for-9 FT

Season review: The Wizards took a flier on Jodie Meeks last summer in what seemed at the time to be a low-risk contract with a potentially high reward, if he could stay healthy and play to his career norms. They were in obvious need of help at backup shooting guard and three-point shooting for their bench.

Meeks fell short of those expectations for a variety of reasons. Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he could not make shots at the clip the Wizards were hoping for. His field goal percentage was not far off from what he posted in recent years, but his three-point percentage was nowhere near the 38.8 percent he shot in his previous four seasons.

Meeks bottomed out midseason, shooting 28.9 percent from three in December and 28 percent in January. Those numbers ticked up beginning in February, but Meeks never fully gained the trust of his coaching staff. He rarely got hot enough to alter games and his best stat-lines often came in blowouts. 

There was a domino effect from Meeks' struggles, as starting shooting guard Bradley Beal had no one to spell him. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player this season.

For Meeks personally, it was a bittersweet year because staying healthy was no small feat. He had a run of bad luck and finally broke out of it this season. On the other hand, he never made the impact he felt he was capable of and that wasn't easy for a guy joining a new team and a new locker room.

Meeks' 2017-18 season was ultimately defined by more than his shooting woes. First, he expressed interest in a trade in February and did not get his wish. Then, he was suspended for allegedy using performance-enhancing drugs after the regular season ended. He was out for the playoffs and will miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season without pay as he waits out a 25-game ban.

Meeks may or may not serve that suspension as a member of the Wizards. He has a player option for next season worth $3.5 million. He has yet to inform the team of his decision, but the expectation is that he will pick it up. Given how poorly his season went and ended, it would likely be the smart move financially for him to opt in and hope for better results next season.

Potential to improve: Shooting percentage, perimeter defense, passing

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

Tim Frazier, PG

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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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