Wizards

Quick Links

Morning tip: Pressure lightens for Wizards' starting 5 to be great every time

Morning tip: Pressure lightens for Wizards' starting 5 to be great every time

LOS ANGELES -- During their previous five-game road trip, the Wizards were able to pull out four heart-stopping victories with two of them comebacks in overtime.

That was two weeks go, and they've begun this one by upsetting the Clevlend Cavaliers on their home floor.

What set up that 127-115 win Saturday was what took place Friday in the first game of a back-to-back.

They routed the Brooklyn Nets 129-108 in a game in which they never were threatened. No starter played more than 24 minutes. That made it easier for the reerves to step in.

"We really locked in, did our job, got the guys some extra minutes rest and it paid off," coach Scott Brooks said. 

This is how elite teams are able to develop their benches heading into the postseason. The Wizards (45-28) didn't have thier leading bench scorer, Bojan Bogdanovic, vs. Cleveland because of lower back stiffness the following night but that was OK.

Second-year forward Kelly Oubre filled that void by shooting 7 of 8 for 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Jason Smith continued to show three-point range and an ability to switch onto perimeter players. His play gives Brooks options in the middle behind Marcin Gortat. He can go to Smith or starter Markieff Morris with his smaller lineups or Ian Mahinmi who is a traditional big.

They Wizards have been able to win with Gortat, Morris and even Otto Porter not producing the type of offense now that they posted before the All-Star break. More than any other team in the NBA, all starting five for the Wizards have posted more double-digit scoring games than any other in the NBA. Gortat has stuggled the most and has seen his minutes reduced significantly.

"You don’t need everybody to play at a high level offensively. They just have to play at a high level energy and commitment, focusing on doing the things to help the team win. It’s not about  minutes," Brooks said. "I keep telling all of our guys, 'If you want minutes, you just play well. You get extra minutes. And if you play we’ll you’re still going to get some sub time.'

"We have a good bench and we’re going to use it. Ian has done a great job. Jason has done a good job. It’s not what March has done. He hasn’t played well but our guys have stepped up and played well but he’s going to bounce back."

The Wizards scored 40 points in the first quarter in Cleveland. John Wall set the tone by pushing the tempo even when they didn't have numbers in transition and still got uncontested layups.

Tuesday, it's a game at the L.A. Lakers in the first game of a back-to-back. They should put them away early, too.

Quick Links

Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

bensimmons.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?