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Should Wizards rock big man rotation or roll with what's worked?


Should Wizards rock big man rotation or roll with what's worked?

The Wizards have dropped the last two games in the best-of-seven series against the Atlanta Hawks and now trail 3-2 heading into Friday's Game 6 in Washington. That means one more loss and summer vacation begins.

They've also won six of nine playoff games and easily could have triumphed in the last two. Pick up two more victories against the Hawks and the Wizards advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1979.

It's with that broad look at Washington's fortunes in the postseason with which coach Randy Wittman answered a question Thursday about possibly altering his frontcourt rotation. Specifically, what about using Kris Humphries considering Paul Pierce and Nene have struggled defending Atlanta's Paul Millsap. 

Nene, Marcin Gortat and Drew Gooden are the true interior options Wittman has used against the Hawks' mobile frontcourt with Pierce picking up minutes as a stretch-four perimeter shooter.

"It's been successful," the coach said during a teleconference with reporters Thursday about his big man rotation.. "You don't want to change too much."

In fact, Wittman liked certain aspects of the matchup in Game 5 with Millsap, who is a dangerous threat because he can beat smaller players (Pierce) inside and maneuver for jumpers against beefy defenders (Nene) outside. Millsap scored 14 points on 6 of 14 shooting.

"I didn't have a problem with them trying to post because that's not their game," Wittman said. "If they want to do that, put isolation in, try to go against our mismatch, I don't have a problem with that at all. Now the flow of their offense isn't what it can be. Paul (Pierce) got scored on a couple of times, but what did Millsap end up with, 12, 14 points? That wasn't a problem."

Pierce, Nene and Gortat aren't falling out of the playing mix regardless. As for Gooden, the veteran forward has been off his game of late. On Wednesday, he played 12 minutes, his fewest in the playoffs this season. Gooden missed all four of his field goal attempts, falling to 1 for 10 over the last two games. Like the others, he doesn't offer much resistance against Millsap or Al Horford.

There are reasons why Gooden has remained in the rotation while Humphries and Kevin Seraphin mostly watch. His ability to shoot the 3-point helps open the court for John Wall's penetration while providing room for either Gortat or Nene to work inside. 

We discussed during the regular season just how a lineup with Drew Gooden joining starters John Wall, Bradley Beal, Paul Pierce and Marcin Gortat rocked. The Wizards went 12-1 in games that quintet played together (the lone loss came in double-overtime). In the playoffs, 4-0 (in fairness, we're not talking about substantial minutes with this unit, but wins are wins). That unblemished record remains because that unit did not receive any run together in Wednesday's loss. 

If Wittman chooses to shake up the rotation, Gooden likely falls off. If Wittman believes what he said Thursday, expect the coach to roll with what's been working overall in the postseason.

MORE WIZARDS: Wittman updates Wall's status, calls G5 effort 'Incredible'

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SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

Fans of both crossword puzzles and the Washington Wizards had a leg-up when completing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. 

The clue: "Wizards, but not witches."

The answer: 7 letters, "NBATEAM." 

This isn't the first time famous crosswords have included sports-related clues. The Washington Post and LA Times have used Bobby Orr as an answer many of times (trust me, we always have a half-finished crossword puzzle hiding somewhere in our living room). 

But athletes aren't the only answers to clues. Remember when the Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan revealed the Washington Capitals' "cult of crossword men" back in 2016?

The New York Times even published a list of the top-10 sports names to know for crossword fanatics everywhere. 

Just further proof that sports continue to permeate every aspect of life. 


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Wizards' new senior VP Sashi Brown's 3 best and worst moves with the Cleveland Browns


Wizards' new senior VP Sashi Brown's 3 best and worst moves with the Cleveland Browns

The Washington Wizards have mixed things up with their front office, and that includes hiring Sashi Brown as a Senior Vice President

Brown is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and he was previously the Jacksonville Jaguars' lead counsel. But he was also an executive with the Cleveland Browns. 

He was both the Browns' Executive Vice President and General Counsel from 2013 to 2016 before being promoted to Executive Vice President of Football Operations. And then the Browns fired him in December 2017 on their way to an 0-16 record, and they were 1-27 with him as the head of personnel.

For the Wizards, Brown will work with and support new General Manager Tommy Sheppard, advising in decision-making. Brown will also contribute to recruiting free agents and promoting and selling the Wizards organization overall.

It wasn't all bad for Brown in Cleveland. But it obviously wasn't a standout run either. So here's a look at some of his best and worst moves for the Browns. 

Sashi Brown's 3 worst moves with the Cleveland Browns

1. Passing on 2 franchise QBs
While it set up some positive things for the Browns down the road (read more on that below), the team passed on key quarterbacks like Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz and Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson in back-to-back NFL Drafts. 

Until ultimately drafting Baker Mayfield in 2018 (again, more on that later), the Browns had a consistent quarterback carousel with the team starting 19 different passers between 2008 and 2017. Cleveland needed a QB, and not only did it pass on Wentz and Watson under Brown, but it also overlooked Patrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky and Dak Prescott -- although so did most teams.

2. Trading for Brock Osweiler
Although it was described as one of the most creative trades in NFL history, the Houston Texans got the better end of the deal here, getting Osweiler's guaranteed $16 million salary off their books. That was in March of 2017, and then Cleveland ended up releasing him that September after he fell from a projected starter to not playing in the team's last two preseason games. 

It was an unexpected move by the Browns at the time, and then they ended up paying him to not play in the majority of the Denver Broncos' games that season.

3. Acquiring too many NFL Draft picks
Much of Brown's strategy in Cleveland was trading for future NFL Draft picks, but he may have been too all-in on this one. In his two drafts, he had a total of 24 picks, and he accumulated 13 more for the 2018 draft. The problem with this strategy is while looking ahead is good, future draft picks don't win games. And Cleveland won once across Brown's two seasons in charge of personnel. That's not great.

Sashi Brown's 3 best moves with the Cleveland Browns

1. All those 2018 draft picks
OK, so while we just said Brown stockpiled a few too many draft picks during his time in Cleveland, he laid the foundation for the team's successful 2018 NFL Draft, which included four picks in the first two rounds. The Browns got quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall, cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4 and running back Nick Chubb at No. 35. 

Last season, Mayfield threw for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and had a 63.8 completion percentage. Chubb was 10th in the league with 996 rushing yards, adding eight touchdowns, and Ward led Cleveland with 11 passes defended and had three picks for 26 yards.

2. Drafting Myles Garrett
The flip side of passing on Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and co. was drafting defensive end Myles Garrett at No. 1 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. After having a strong rookie season despite injuring his ankle, Garrett was a Pro Bowler by the end of his second year. He led the Browns with 13.5 sacks for 82 yards and posted 44 total tackles. 

3. Getting Terrelle Pryor
Although Pryor turned out to be a bust with the Washington Redskins, he was one of the Cleveland Brown's best offensive players in 2016. After he switched from quarterback to wide receiver in the 2015 season, he led the team with 1,007 receiving yards off 77 catches with four touchdowns.