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Morning tip: Scott Brooks' methods are welcomed change for Wizards

Morning tip: Scott Brooks' methods are welcomed change for Wizards

The harmony at the practice court can not only be heard and seen, but it can be felt. The Wizards are vibing at a level like never before -- including their two playoff seasons when they advanced to the conference semifinals -- and Scott Brooks is the conductor who has them all in tune. 

Tonight they'll try to extend their home winning streak to 15 games vs. the N.Y. Knicks, who they've already beaten twice this season. 

The atmosphere at Verizon Center has done an 180-degree turn after a 2-8 start, now that the Wizards are 25-12 since then. The atmosphere behind the scenes has shifted, too, because no matter the spoken word, the body language doesn't lie. 

"The players have been around me for some time now. They're going to always get the same consistent approach whether we win a game or lose a game," said Brooks, who has his team fifth in the East and two games in the loss column from the No. 2 spot. "When we lose a game we're not going to change things up and just throw everything out the door because we feel that we have to. With our guys they understand that our system is in place. We want to tinker with it. We want to add to it. I'm not going to be so stubborn just to keep everything the same but we work every day. I've always done it. I have to be smart enough to realize on days like today, 35 to 40 minutes of good work is enough to get better. You just cant relax after a win. We don't. That's been a big part of our success recently."

Brooks, in his first season in Washington, said plenty. He wasn't referencing anything in the recent past, but among the biggest negatives with the previous coaching staff during a 41-41 season was the helter-skelter style. Then-coach Randy Wittman was constantly switching, or what he called "simplifying" defensive coverages, based on the latest results. 

Even though they had the same starting five players, the production was down across the board. Brooks kept Monday's workout short and sweet whereas three-hour practices were the norm for John Wall who needed surgeries to both knees because of the wear and tear. And Bradley Beal repeatedly had overuse stress reactions in his lower right leg. On top of all that, the roster was much older at the time and they likely were leaving their best pereformances on the practice court.

"He understands situations for us, if we need rest, if he needs to step on the gas for us," Wall said of Brooks' coaching style. "All the other coaches do a great of giving us the scouting report, giving us game plans. ... They're pushing us in our drills and not letting us take plays off and days off."

[RELATED: Wizards respond to Brooks' 4th-quarter adjustments]

Now the leader, Wall respected the Wizards' veterans but did grow agitated when some of them took off drills in practice while he gutted them out despite loose bodies and bone spurs in both knees 

Earlier in the season, Marcin Gortat, who clashed with Wittman at every turn, had this to say about Brooks' staff which includes lead assistant Tony Brown, Sidney Lowe, Maz Trakh, Chad Iske and Mike Terpstra, to CSNmidatlantic.com: "They have a different way of communication with us. They have more patience with us. They work with us as a single units. They take us on the side. Each coach is responsible for certain players and we communicate a lot. Our level of commnication is much better, much higher. ... Most important is they're not trying to change up every game. We stick to pretty much one coverage for most of the time. The schemes we have a pretty much the same which is great. We don't have to ask queustions. We know what we got to do in certain situations." 

The result: All of the Wizards starters are having standout seasons. In most cases, they're posting career-highs such as Gortat in rebounds (11.4) and field-goal shooting (59.2%); Wall in points (22.9), assists (10.3), steals (2.2) and field-goal accuracy (46.5%); Beal in points (21.8), Otto Porter in points (14.4), rebounds (6.6) and field-goal (53.5%) and three-point accuracy (46.8%) and Markieff Morris in rebounds (6.7) and three-point shooting (35.3%). 

Brooks has sat down with Wall and showed him where he's not made the right plays or lacked the effort needed on the defensive end. He has emphasized to Morris to give better efforts when closing out shooters at the arc and improving his long-range shot. He has altered the offense that's not as pick-and-roll heavy, taken his four-time All-Star Wall off the ball some, put Beal on the ball more,and  incorporated more flex action and motion to maximize everyone's skill set and a layer of unpredictability.

"We just don't want to be John-centric. We want to make sure everybody is involved," Brooks said. "When you have a great player like John you want to utilize his abilities to get to the bucket, create offense off of his speed and his toughness and his layup-making ability. But you have a lot of good players around him. You want to utilize them because the game of basketball everybody has to be involved otherwise you're going to have problems. You're going to have disinterested players on the defensive end but when you get everybody touching the ball offensively your defense, it's human nature, it spikes up."

In the first year of a five-year, $35 million deal, Brooks is the Wizards' top offseason acqusition. And based on the direction the team is headed, that pricetage continues to be a bargain. 

[RELATED: With Mahinmi on mend, Wizards aren't in a rush with trade deadline approaching]

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NBA Rumors: Davis Bertans trade inquiries have reportedly gone nowhere as deadline nears

NBA Rumors: Davis Bertans trade inquiries have reportedly gone nowhere as deadline nears

There's been no shortage of teams who've expressed interest in Wizards forward Davis Bertans, but it appears many attempts to trade for the Latvian sharpshooter have been rebuffed by Washington's front office. 

According to Chris Mannix, several Davis Bertans trade inquiries have gone nowhere. In those conversations, executives told Mannix that the Wizards wouldn't even discuss a deal. 

Bertans is making $7 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Wizards have unlocked the sniper's full offensive potential after three seasons in San Antonio. He's averaging career-highs in minutes (29.2), points (15.3), rebounds (4.6), field goal attempts (11.4) and three-point attempts (8.7). 

Bertans' break out season has resulted in a number of contenders expressing interest in his services. Based on a report by Chase Hughes earlier this month, the Celtics, Sixers, Lakers and Nuggets have all emerged as potential suitors. 

 

The Wizards remain consistent on their intention to keep Bertans past the trade deadline even if that may mean losing him in free agency. While the Wizards may be in the midst of a rebuild this year, Bertans is a better fit for John Wall and Bradley Beal's contention window. 

The key with Bertans this summer is his bird rights. Bird rights allow a team to re-sign a player to any amount without using cap space. After the spending-spree that was the 2019 free agency period, there are about seven teams who could realistically create enough cap space to give Bertans the $12-15 million salary Berants is believed to fetch. The Hawks, Hornets, Cavs, Grizzlies, Knicks, Suns and Trail Blazers. 

Whoever has Bertans on their team at the end of the year will naturally be able to outbid any team on a contract offer since they won't have to use cap space to retain him. That's probably why Mannix believes the Wizards can get at least a first round pick for Bertans and why Tom Haberstroh thinks the Wizards' asking price might be too high to get a deal done. 

Contenders can get desperate at the deadline though, especially for the kind of shooting and bench scoring a player like Bertans can provide. If the Wizards are comfortable keeping Bertans and dealing with the uncertainty of free agency, they can sit back and wait for a team to offer everything they want and more. 

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Wizards vs. Hawks: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Wizards vs. Hawks: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Wizards head to Atlanta Sunday evening for their third straight road game, part of a four-game trip. All-Star hopeful Bradley Beal will go head-to-head with All-Star starter Trae Young in the backcourt.

Young and Beal are two of the NBA's most prolific scorers, with Young averaging nearly 30 points per game and Beal scoring at least 36 points in back-to-back games.

Washington is coming off a convincing win in Cleveland after dropping an overtime heartbreaker in Miami.

Can the Wizards win back-to-back road games against two of the league's worst teams? Tune in to find out.

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards at Altanta Hawks, Game 45

Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA

When: 6:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Hawks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Hawks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS TV SCHEDULE

5:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

5:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

6:00 PM: Wizards vs. Hawks (LIVE)

8:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

9:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Garrison Matthews (day-to-day, ankle), Rui Hachimura (OUT, groin), Moe Wagner (OUT, ankle)

Hawks: Trae Young (day-to-day, thigh), Alex Len (day-to-day, back), Chandler Parsons (OUT, concussion), Jabari Parker (day-to-day, shoulder)

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, G, Wizards (27.8ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.4 apg): Beal has caught fire in recent days, scoring 36, 38 and 29 points in his last three games as he makes his bid to be an All-Star for te second consecutive season.

Davis Bertans, F, Wizards (15.3ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.7 apg): Bertans has made at least four three-point field goals in back-to-back games, finding his stroke as he makes a case for the 3-point shooting contest.

Trae Young, PG, Hawks (29.2ppg, 4.7 rpg, 8.6 apg): Young was just named to his first All-Star Game as a starter, thanks to his incredible statline that jump off the page. He is one of just two players averaging more than 29 points and eight assists per game. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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