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No panic button for slow starting Wizards

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No panic button for slow starting Wizards

The preseason trend of slow starts has remained an unwanted guest, home or away, for the Wizards thru the first two games of the regular season.

In the season opener at Cleveland, Washington trailed by seven in the first quarter, 11 at the half. Hosting Boston on Saturday, the Wizards were on the wrong end of game-starting 17-2 run. In both cases, offensive execution was largely to blame; Washington shot 32.6 percent during the first half against the Cavaliers and missed 13 of its first 14 attempts against the Celtics.

Open looks have been missed, early, and late. After the loss to Boston in which the Wizards were held without a point for the final almost the entire final 3 minutes, a blunt Jordan Crawford said, "We're forgetting plays." Following Tuesday's practice, Randy Wittman was asked for his take on the missing, the talk of forgetting, and the lack of offensive consistency.

"Execution is not there," the Wizards coach said. "Is it forgetting? Is it going to fast? Is it trying to do much and not trusting, whether it's the play or teammates? Our execution has to continue to be better. We have a lot of new faces. We're doing a lot of new things, even with the guys that were here."

Starters Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Bradley Beal and A.J. Price are collectively shooting a bricklaying 26.5 percent (22 of 83) through two games. Nobody from this currently clanking quintet started for Washington last year, which makes sense since all but Booker were not on last season's roster.

Specifically when the game tips off, Wittman added another component for those off-putting starts or rather a message he's telling his players: throw caution to the wind.

"I've got a belief in them. They have to believe in themselves," Wittman said. "We can't be tentative. We can't come out in the game - no matter who we're playing - and see how they are going to come out and play. Are they going to be high intensity, are they going to be dragging. I think we're doing that a little bit, how Boston is coming out, how Cleveland is coming instead of we're coming out one way or one way only."

Ariza, who missed all four of his shots against Boston, has seemingly been in a funk since training camp. Asked for his take on the scoring challenged starts, he sighed deeply before responding, "I think probably just trying to get used to each other. This is a new team for me, a new system for Emeka and I. Just trying to get used to everybody. It takes a little time."

It took little time for Kevin Seraphin to establish himself in his first game of the season. Out since Oct. 13 due to a right calf strain, Seraphin made 8 of 9 shots and scored 19 points against the Celtics, his 17th straight game with double digit points dating back to last season. Washington's next game comes Wednesday at Boston. We may not find out until then whether the third-year center enters the starting lineup, a spot he occupied during the closing stretch of last season.

Making changes for the sake of changes is not the coach's desire, and Wittman said he is "not pushing the panic button on anything." With all the new pieces, patience is a virtue. 

“You want guys to understand their roles, what’s expected of them. You’ve got to give that time,” Wittman said. “If I’m going to sit here on the third day and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to start five new players or three new players,’ I don’t know if I’m sending them the right message. Now, if it doesn’t improve, now that’s a decision I’ve got to go with, but right now I want to have trust in them that they’re going to try to fight through and do the right things.”

Anticipating a follow up question about much time is enough time before delivering other messages, Wittman joshed about not giving up that intelligence. If the shots start falling and the chemistry starts clicking, he might never have to - at least not until John Wall and Nene return.

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Hey Wizards - don't fall for this CJ McCollum crossover

Hey Wizards - don't fall for this CJ McCollum crossover

Here's an important thing for the Wizards to avoid when facing off against Portland on Monday night: This CJ McCollum crossover.

As seen in this video by our friends at NBC Sports Northwest, the Trail Blazers' player sent a Spurs defender flying - much to the delight of the Portland bench - with the move.

 

"It wasn't even one of my better crossovers," he said after his team's win. "Honestly, he just reacted."

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By the numbers: Bradley Beal on pace to become one of NBA history's best three-point shooters

By the numbers: Bradley Beal on pace to become one of NBA history's best three-point shooters

Bradley Beal topped Gilbert Arenas for first place in career three-pointers in Wizards/Bullets franchise history on Saturday night in the Wizards' loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Beal, only 25, has put himself in some good company over the years with his outside shooting. Here are some numbers to put it all in perspective.

By The Numbers: Bradley Beal's historic shooting numbers

2,208: Beal made his record-breaking, 869th three on his 2,208th attempt. It took Arenas 2,430 attempts to get there in a Wizards uniform. Arenas, however, reached the mark in 357 games compared to Beal's 408. Beal, now at 2,209, is second on the franchise list for career three-pointers attempted. Based on his career attempts averages, he should get there this season.

100: Beal has made at least 100 three-pointers in five straight seasons entering 2018-19. That is a franchise record. The longest such active streak is held by Jamal Crawford at 14. The longest streak in NBA history is held by Ray Allen at 17.

39.4: Beal's career three-point percentage. He is one of only five players ever to shoot at least 39 percent from beyond the arc while making two or more threes per game in their careers. The others are Kyle Korver, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Buddy Hield, who has only played in 164 games compared to Beal's 408.

223: Beal set the franchise record for three-pointers made in a single season back in 2016-17. He passed Arenas, who twice got to 205, in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

41: Beal also passed Arenas for the most games in franchise history with five or more three-pointers made. Arenas is in second with 40, while Trevor Ariza is in a distant third with 15. Otto Porter Jr., for comparison, has done it nine times. Beal's 41 games with five threes or more rank 18th among active players. Curry is way ahead of everyone else with 183.

37: Beal is one of just eight players ever to begin his career with six straight seasons of 37 percent or better from three. The other seven is mostly a who's who of three-point specialists like Curry, Thompson, Korver and J.J. Redick.

20: Shooting 37 percent or better from three while also scoring 20 points or more is rarer than you may think. Beal has done it twice in his career, same as LeBron James, Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard. Only 11 players have accomplished the feat more often. Dirk Nowitzki has done that in nine seasons, most all-time, while Kevin Durant is second with eight.

872: Speaking of Durant, this isn't a historic number, it's just an interesting coincidence. Since Beal entered the league before the 2012-13 season, he and Durant have been nearly identical as three-point shooters. Beal has made 870 threes, while Durant has knocked down 872. Beal has shot 39.4 percent, while Durant has hit 39.6 of them. Another guy who has been extremely similar to Beal is Danny Green, who now plays for the Raptors. He has hit 858 threes during that span at a 39.2 percent rate.

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