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Morning tip: Marcin Gortat spearheads Wizards' overwhelming size advantage over Celtics inside

Morning tip: Marcin Gortat spearheads Wizards' overwhelming size advantage over Celtics inside

Whether Marcin Gortat has just seven rebounds for the Wizards like he did in Game 4 or average 13 as he did in the first three vs. the Boston Celtics, the frontline size advantage is putting a cramp in small-ball.

The bigs for Boston not named Al Horford have been non-entities as the Wizards won the last two games by an average of 23 points to tie the semifinals at 2-2. 

Amir Johnson is tasked with defending Gortat, a center, while Horford cross matches vs. Markieff Morris. Kelly Olynyk played 23 minutes for the Celtics and scored 14 points but the 7-footer didn't grab a rebound.

Ian Mahinmi comes off the bench for Washington and is a versatile defending post player who can outmuscle anyone Boston has to offer inside the paint. It's no surprise that in Game 3 the Wizards had a 50-38 edge in rebounds and 45-31 in Game 4. 

The Celtics have to find a way to mitigate this weakness, but that's a tall task. 

"If they want to go small I have to dominate. I have to dominate the paint," said Gortat, who has been most valuable in helping contain Isaiah Thomas' lane penetration and ability to finish at the basket. "We cant fall into their game, shoving and pushing and talking and trash-talking. We've got to just stay and be who we are."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens will go to three-guard lineups with Marcus Smart on the floor with Thomas and Avery Bradley, but there's no significant edge gained because the Wizards can stick with a bigger lineup and still matchup because of Morris.

The best chance Boston has is if the Wizards lose their focus and squander what's in front of them even though they lack home-court advantage.

"We've got to play hard. We've got to hit, we're going to foul hard if we have to but we're not going to start doing stuff that's going to take us out of our game," said Gortat. "We've just got to play our game."

In a first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks, the Wizards closed them out on the road in six games. Gortat had to contend with Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap in the low post.

Even though the series in the regular season and playoffs has been litered with technical fouls and ejections, including a blowup involving Kelly Oubre that led to his suspension for Game 4, it pales in comparison to Atlanta. 

In that series, there wasn't any room to operate in the paint as Dwight Howard packed in the paint and ate up all the space for the Wizards' guards to get to the rim and Gortat. That's not the situation with Boston as Gortat has tallied 16 points and 13 rebounds, 14 points and 10 rebounds and 13 points and 16 rebounds in Games 1-3. The center also is averaging 3.0 assists in those games.

"Nothing even close as it was in the first round for me going against Dwight Howard and now going against their bigs," Gortat said of battling with the undersized Horford and Johnson in the paint. "It's not even close. I hope we're not going to jinx it."

MORE WIZARDS: Remember when GMs disrespected Wall's passing?

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Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

The connection between athletes and their fans is a powerful thing in sports. The NBA is one of the trendiest, fashion-forward leagues in the world. From shoe design to overall wardrobe to eccentric personalities...the Association has it all on display for fans across the globe to consume. 

Lloyd Ferguson, a fan himself and native of Silver Spring, Md., is bursting onto the customized sneakers scene as an up-and-coming artist. 

His Instagram (@SwaggyPicasso) serves as his personal laboratory and a platform to share his creations. 

Prior to the start of Thursday night's Wizards-Heat game, NBC Sports Washington invited Ferguson to Capital One Arena for what would become a memorable night for the 23-year-old. 

Chris Miller and Drew Gooden featured Swaggy Picasso on the pregame show for an interview and sneaker showcase.

"The inside of my body was jiggling and moving. I was like 'I gotta keep composed and stay cool. You're on national televison, Lloyd.'" 

You would have never known it. 

Ferguson, who was a basketball player himself locally, grew up a Wizards and D.C. sports fan all around. 

Little did he know several Wizards would take notice of his artwork. 

Kelly Oubre, Devin Robinson and John Wall - each known for their wardrobes and respective styles - stopped by to take a peek at Ferguson's kicks. 

"Their reactions to my art was all I needed, honestly. They see the potential and growth. It's very overwhelming." 

It was a groundbreaking night for a young talent with lofty dreams and aspirations. 

Swaggy Picasso has no plans of stopping anytime soon. 

"I've been busting out these shoes day and night. I don't sleep. My desire to paint shoes is ridiculous." 

 

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Wizards vs. Raptors: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. Raptors: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards take to the court Saturday night looking for their first win of the season against the Toronto Raptors. 

In their first game of the season the Wizards laid an egg after the Miami Heat were missing three rotation players on the second end of a back-to-back. Similar problems emerged even with new offseason additions Jeff Green and Austin Rivers having stellar debuts. Dwight Howard did not play in the contest, still dealing with a butt injury. 

Now, the Wizards will go up against one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, the Raptors. They also acquired a former All-Star in Kwahi Leonard this offseason, trading away DeMar DeRozan. Besides the switch, this is pretty much the same squad that knocked the Wizards out of the First Round of the playoffs last season.

On Saturday the Raptors will be coming off a back-to-back after hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday night. Once again, another big opportunity for the Wizards against an Eastern Conference foe early in the season.

The Wizards-Raptors will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7:00 p.m. at Capital One Arena and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors, 2018 NBA regular season Game 2
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Raptors will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Raptors on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the new MyTeams App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS TV SCHEDULE
6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)
7:00 PM: Toronto Raptors @ Wizards (LIVE)
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
10:30 PM: Redskins GameDay: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (questionable)
Raptors: Delon Wright (day-to-day), OG Anunoby (probable)

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS PLAYERS TO WATCH

John Wall, Wizards: After speculation on if Wall would return to his peak form, he showed out on Thursday night. With 26 points, nine assists, and four blocks, the point guard was all around the court for the Wizards. 

Otto Porter Jr./ Jeff Green, Wizards: Covering Leonard is going to be a tall task. It is anticipated that the taller Otto Porter Jr. and Jeff Green to be the duo that will be covering the lengthy guard.  Neither guy are going to light-up the stat sheet on the offensive end, but after a nice showing by Green on Thursday look for them to split time defensively. 

Khawi Leonard: Leonard had 24 points and 12 rebounds in his debut with the Raptors, picking up right where he left off before his injury. Will a back-to-back affect the star that hasn't played consistently since 2016? 

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 95 games
Regular Season Record: Raptors lead 48-37
Postseason Record: Wizards lead 6-4
Last Meeting: Raptors won 102-92
Last 10: Raptors lead 6-4

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