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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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Wizards Summer League superlatives: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. were the stars

Wizards Summer League superlatives: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. were the stars

The 2019 Las Vegas Summer League is in the books and this one was much more interesting for the Wizards than they have been in recent years. This year, they had a host of first and second-round picks play for them, as well as some players they recently acquired in their trade with the Lakers.

Here are some superlatives to put a bow on the Wizards' time in Vegas...

Best player: Troy Brown Jr.

Though he only played one game and one quarter before he was shut down with a left knee contusion, Brown was quite clearly the best player on the Wizards' Summer League roster. In his only full game, he put up 18 points and 15 rebounds. Though he only shot 40.6 percent in his brief time in Vegas, he looked like a guy who was advanced beyond the league's level of competition.

For Brown, the question is how much it matters because he essentially did what he should do as a second-year player. It is encouraging and he should draw confidence from the experience. But now he has to show he can produce like that in real NBA games.

Best newcomer: Rui Hachimura

Hachimura only played three of the Wizards' five games and in his first two outings produced uneven results. But his third game was pure dominance, as he posted 25 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He proved a quick learner by adjusting and improving game-by-game.

All in all, it was a solid start to Hachimura's career. He displayed versatility and smarts both on offense and defense. It should give Wizards fan hope he can contribute as a rookie.

Most improved: Isaac Bonga

Many of the players on the Wizards' roster were not returning from last summer, but Bonga showed a nice leap year-over-year from what he did for the Lakers in 2018. Though he wasn't one of the Wizards' best players, he ended up with solid numbers of 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot 45.5 percent from the field in 20.2 minutes of action.

The best thing Bonga showed for the Wizards is his athleticism. He is a full 6-foot-9, yet has the mobility of a guard. He is a long ways away from being NBA-ready, but at 19 years old gives the Wizards an intriguing prospect to stash in the G-League.

Needs improvement: Issuf Sanon, Moe Wagner, Admiral Schofield

It wasn't the best Summer League showing for Sanon, the Wizards' 2018 second-round pick. He only played a total of 48 minutes in four games and shot 18.2 percent with 1.5 points per game. The Wizards were experimenting with his position, playing him both at point and off the ball, and he didn't look comfortable doing either.

Granted, Sanon's biggest strength at this point is his defense, but he doesn't seem to have any NBA-ready offensive skills. Unless he gets up to speed quickly, he will have to become really, really good on defense to make the leap overseas.

Like Bonga, Wagner debuted after coming over in the Lakers trade. But Wagner didn't have the best time in Las Vegas, as he shot just 31 percent from the field and 7.1 percent from three. It was a small sample size of just four games, but Wagner is known as a shooter and didn't look like one in the Summer League. He also had trouble on defense against quicker match-ups.

Schofield, the Wizards' 2019 second-round pick, shot poorly (38.5 FG%, 22.2 3PT%) and struggled to find his role on defense. He has some intriguing qualities, but it might take him some time to figure out how to compete against NBA athletes while lacking height and quickness to play the way he did in college.

Biggest surprise: Jemerrio Jones

Perhaps this should not be surprising because it is what Jones is known for, but his rebounding really stood out. He played only about 27 minutes in three games, yet pulled in 13 boards. That breaks out to 4.3 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game, or about one rebound every other minute. He averaged 17.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Keep in mind he is only 6-foot-5. Based on efficiency, Jones was the Wizards' best rebounder and he is the size of a shooting guard. He has a lot to improve on before he can stick around in the NBA, but it will be fun watching him grab 15-plus boards on the regular this season with the Go-Go. 

Biggest disappointment: Wizards' opponents

If there was one prevailing theme in the 2019 Summer League it was teams holding out their top draft picks either due to actual injuries or the fear they will suffer one. The Wizards saw this firsthand. They even did it themselves by keeping Hachimura out of two of their games.

The Wizards played the Pelicans without first overall pick Zion Williamson or Jaxson Hayes, the eighth pick, or even Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the 17th pick. They played the Hawks without De'Andre Hunter (fourth pick) or Cam Reddish (10th pick). And the Nets and Clippers didn't have any top draft picks of note.

The Wizards did get to see third overall pick R.J. Barrett and the Knicks in their final game. New York also had Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox, as well as Iggy Brazdeikis, who was a Summer League standout. But neither Hachimura or Brown played in that game for Washington.

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Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Welcome to the Wizards Rui Hachimura.

In his first action as a Washington Wizard, the first-round draft pick brought home some hardware after being named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team.

Hachimura showed out in a Summer League that was headlined by which stars were not playing on the court. In his final contest against the Atlanta Hawks, Hachimura dominated the court.

Playing a total of three games in Las Vegas, he averaged 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Those stats paired with a 2-1 record in the games he played garnered the Second Team honor. 

He was joined by Chris Boucher (Toronto), Jaxson Hayes (New Orleans), Anfernee Simons (Portland) and Lonie Walker IV (San Antonio) on the Second Team. 

The Gonzaga product is looking to become the best Japanese player to step onto an NBA basketball court and, although it is a small sample size, he showed some major potential in his limited action. 

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