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Morning tip: Paul Pierce's words ring true about defense


Morning tip: Paul Pierce's words ring true about defense

ATLANTA -- Throw out the defensive ratings about the Wizards, and they were among the NBA's elite in scoring allowed, because this is more about how they perform against upper-tier teams such as the Atlanta Hawks who tied their second-round series at 2.

Game 5 is tonight at Phillips Arena (TNT, 8 p.m. ET). 

The Wizards were shredded by the Hawks all regular season, and for the first time it looked like old times in Game 4 Monday. Jeff Teague lived in the lane, Al Horford and Paul Millsap had multiple open looks and Dennis Schroder joined in off the bench. They shot 59.1% in the first half and went on to win 106-101 which by far was their best performance of the series.

"We’re a defensive team first. When you allow teams to shoot 47 (percent) from three, 47 (percent) from the field, score over a 100 points, that’s not us at all," said Paul Pierce, who echoed similar sentiments when they allowed 106.5 points per game in a four-game stretch in March when they lost three times. "When we’re playing at our best we don’t give up 60 points in a half. That’s just doing the game plan, doing it consistently."

This gets back to something Pierce stressed earlier, too. The Wizards' greatest faults come not from effort or coaching strategy but from straying the course with the game plan. When one player forgets or tries to turn the game on his own, it causes the other four to be out of sync particularly on defense.

Teams that move the ball like Atlanta, that run a lot of pick-and-rolls and have multiple shooters, can demoralize a defense when all five players aren't connected. That causes confusion. That happened Monday.

"You make mistakes against the Hawks, that’s why they’re the No. 1 team. That’s why they won 60 games. They countered off our mistakes," Pierce said. "We got to do a better job keeping the ball out the paint. They scored a lot of points in the paint. Guard penetration. We did a better job second half but we got to be able to maintain that for 48 minutes.

“We got do better job at containing out man out the paint, make them kick it out, close out to the shooters, keep our turnovers down and rebound the ball. They got key offensive rebounds. They got key steals.”

Pierce took exception to their demeanor after a 31-point loss to the Hawks on Jan. 11. They were too happy going into a game with the San Antonio Spurs, a team that had beaten this franchise 17 times in a row. The Wizards responded on Jan. 13 with a 101-93 victory.

No one was smiling after the Wizards let one game away, and what would've been a commanding 3-1 series lead, Monday. 

“We’re a resilient team. We don’t mind being on the road," Pierce said. "We know it’s an uphill battle going into their building trying to win again but I think this squad is up for the challenge."

[RELATED: The case for playing Kris Humphries this series (or not)]

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The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario


The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario

The 2018 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 21 and once again provides a glimmer of hope for even the most downtrodden franchises.

The NBA Draft is where teams can prepare for the future; where teams can rebuild and reload.

But the NBA Draft is often a crapshoot. Teams waffle on taking the best fit versus the best available player. Teams often panic and rest on laurels of draft years past. Fans like to build draft stereotypes for individual franchises, and while a lot of that is stupid Internet conjecture, it's fun to talk about and is often some actual truth to it.

So what follows is a look at the Doomsday Mock Draft. What your favorite team is likely to do if all else fails, which it often does.

1. Phoenix Suns: A franchise center who spends his first contract working with the Suns' medical staff more than his teammates.

2. Sacramento Kings: Someone who won't be a member of the Kings by the time 2022 rolls around.

3. Atlanta Hawks: Someone that will make Dennis Schroder unhappy.

4. Memphis Grizzlies: A Mike Conley Jr. repair kit.

5. Dallas Mavericks: Not the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki.

6. Orlando Magic: A reach that won't pan out.

7. Chicago Bulls: Someone from Iowa State, probably.


9. New York Knicks: /inserts .GIF of Spike Lee looking disappointed/

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Another big man because HINKIE 4 LYFE.

11. Charlotte Hornets: A North Carolina Tar Heel.

12. Los Angeles Clippers: A playmate for the head coach's son.

13. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan 2.0.

14. Denver Nuggets: Yet another athletic guard.

15. Washington Wizards: Nope. Not touching this one.

16. Phoenix Suns: Someone to pass Devon Booker the ball.

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Wingspan. Nothing but wingspan.

18. San Antonio Spurs: One of the Space Jam villains who conveniently falls to the Spurs (See: Leonard, Kawhi. Anderson, Kyle. Murray, Dejounte)

19. Atlanta Hawks: Someone to replace Dennis Schroder.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Someone who Tom Thibideau can play 60 minutes of a 48-minute game.

21. Utah Jazz: A real glue guy. A gym rat. A high-motor guy. Intangibles. Grit. Moxie. 

22. Chicago Bulls: A two-way player who will ultimately get punched in the face by Bobby Portis.



25. Los Angeles Lakers: The subject of Lonzo Ball's next diss track.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: A pallet of knockoff burner phones.

27. Boston Celtics: A draft night trade for more draft picks they probably won't use.

28. Golden State Warriors: An unfairly good player.

29. Brooklyn Nets: An unfairly bad player.

30. Atlanta Hawks: We ran out of Dennis Schroder jokes.


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NBA Draft 2018: Jerome Robinson likes potential fit with the Wizards

USA Today Sports

NBA Draft 2018: Jerome Robinson likes potential fit with the Wizards

With the No. 15 pick in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards could go any number of different ways Thursday night.

They could bolster their frontcourt and select a big man. They could draft an uber-athletic wing and move more toward positionless basketball. Or the Wizards could take a guard to help build depth in the backcourt behind John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Enter Jerome Robinson, a three-year player at Boston College who led the ACC in three-point percentage and was second in scoring last season. He had a private workout with the Wizards on Wednesday morning, and got the chance to showcase the skill that earned him First Team All-ACC honors during his junior season.

In Washington, Robinson has the opportunity to come in without needing to be a difference-maker right away. He'd primarily be the backup shooting guard behind Beal and could push to see some minutes at the three when the Wizards go small. Though he was the go-to guy in college, he sounded ready to play alongside two stars in Washington.

"They’ve got two All-Star caliber players at the one and the two and I can also be a contributor with those guys as well," Robinson said after his workout. "[They have] a great offense and great defense as well. Also a great coach and front office."

Robinson was the only player to work out for the Wizards on Wednesday, so showing the team what he can do on the court was easy, but it wasn't the only area that drew his focus. He didn't meet with the Wizards at the NBA Combine in Chicago, so the visit also served as an introductory meeting between Robinson and team personnel, he said.

"I’m just coming in and showing them the kind of person that I am. Talking to these guys is important," Robinson said.

Over his three years at Boston College, Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter and improved in almost every major statistical category. A 40.9 percent three-point shooter as a junior, Robinson brought his average up almost seven percentage points from his sophomore season, when he shot 33.3 percent from deep. He also boosted his field goal percentage from 42.9 to 48.5 percent and his free throw percentage from 64.3 to 83 percent.

The numbers are a testament to his dedication to his craft, but also are evidence of his grasp of the game and how he fits into it. It's one thing in particular he wanted to show the Wizards.

"Just my understanding of the game. I think that’s what’s big and I think that’s something that fits into the NBA seamlessly for me," Robinson said. "Playing the right way and showing them what kind of player I am is what I go in and try to do."

There's no telling exactly which way the Wizards will go Thursday night, but if they end up picking Robinson, there may be an early level of comfort as both he and Wall are from Raleigh, North Carolina.

"It would be awesome to play with another guy from Raleigh," Robinson said. "We’ve got that same kind of grit. You’ve seen what he’s done so far and I think it would be exciting to play with him."

From Capital One Arena, he'll travel to New York to be there for draft night. Maybe by the end of the night, he'll be walking around with a Wizards hat on his head.