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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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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

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

Player: Ian Mahinmi

Position: Center

Age: 31

2017-18 salary: $15.9 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.9 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 55.6 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 70.3 FT%, 55.6 eFG%, 107 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/12 vs. Magic - 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, steal, assist, 7-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 FT

Season review: After missing 51 games in the 2016-17 season, the first of his four-year contract with the Wizards, center Ian Mahinmi managed to stay healthy for the entirety of 2017-18. He appeared in 77 games and gave the Wizards a good look at the player they signed to a $64 million deal in free agency.

Mahinmi was a mainstay in the Wizards' rotation as their backup center. While Marcin Gortat started all 82 games at center, Mahinmi at times got the nod late in games as head coach Scott Brooks favored his defense.

Though Mahinmi was available all season, he still fell short of the numbers he put up in his last year in Indiana, in 2015-16. Mahinmi's minutes per game were his fewest since 2010-11, and his points and rebounds were his fewest since 2013-14. 

Mahinmi's numbers were affected by his low minutes, as he could never quite crack the top six or seven spots in Brooks' rotation. His numbers per 36 minutes, however, were on par with how he played in Indiana before the Wizards signed him to a big contract.

2015-16 per 36: 13.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.3 spg

2017-18 per 36: 11.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.2 spg

That, of course, only means so much. Mahinmi may have been relatively efficient with his minutes, but the consistency wasn't there to convince Brooks and the coaching staff to increase his role.

It will be interesting to see what the team plans for Mahinmi next season, as this summer could bring changes to their frontcourt. Both of their starting big men - Gortat and Markieff Morris - have one year left on their contracts. If Gortat in particular is dealt, that could open the door for Mahinmi to earn more playing time.

The Wizards could also add to their frontcourt through the draft. If they get a rim-protecting big man in the first round, that could be bad news for Mahinmi's playing time. Like several Wizards players, Mahinmi's role is up in the air entering this summer.

Potential to improve: Finishing around rim, consistency, limiting fouls

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

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Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

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Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

The University of Kentucky was well-represented at the Wizards' first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, as All-Star point guard John Wall sat courtside to watch a young player who could join him next season in Washington.

The Wizards hosted Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo just days after interviewing him at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Ill., another sign the 19-year-old is a legitimate option for their second round pick, set for 44th overall in next month's draft.

Diallo, who is originally from Queens, NY., said he is friends with Wall, as the two have crossed paths due to the Kentucky connection. 

"I feel like he knows what I'm capable of," Diallo said.

He now hopes the Wizards front office understands what he can do. Diallo is a defensive-minded wing who measured 6-foot-6 (with shoes) at the combine and with a 7-foot wingspan. He had the fifth-best max vertical leap at the combine, coming in at 40.5 inches. He was also the 12th-ranked player in the class of 2017 out of high school.

The measurables and pedigree are impressive, but Diallo's potential has yet to be realized. He didn't play a game despite attending Kentucky in the 2016-17 academic year. He tested the NBA Draft waters last summer before returning to Kentucky to average a modest 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Diallo has already worked out for the Chicago Bulls and will meet with plenty more teams, but is currently projected by most mock drafts to be a second round pick. This time he hired an agent and will definitely be making the leap.

"It feels good this year going through it with both feet in. It's been a great process," he said.

The Wizards like Diallo's defensive ability, his speed and awareness in the open floor and his potential to improve as a shooter. Diallo shot 33.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in the 2017-18 season.

"I hope to show my athleticism and how that plays a big part on the defensive end," Diallo said of his goals in pre-draft workouts.

"[The Wizards] are a team that wants to play fast and they have a fast point guard that needs players to keep up with him. That's what I tried to show in this workout, to show how fast I can play and show how composed I can play."

If the Wizards deem Diallo worth taking a chance on, he would provide a nice fit positionally. Though their second round pick could spend much of next season in the G-League, Diallo plays shooting guard and they have a need behind starter Bradley Beal. 

The Wizards see Tomas Satoransky as a possibility at backup shooting guard and Jodie Meeks is expected to return next season on a player option. But those guys were on the roster in 2017-18 and couldn't fill the void behind Beal, who logged more minutes than all but three players in the league. Meeks is also set to begin the 2018-19 season serving a suspension.

Diallo played at a big-time program and has the athleticism to compete at the NBA level early on. He could help a team improve long-term at guarding the perimeter, an area the Wizards have made strides in but still have a ways to go. That was seen in their playoff series against the Raptors when Toronto averaged 11.0 threes made per game and shot 41 percent.

Though it's early in the draft workout process, the Wizards have made it clear they are interested in Diallo.

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