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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout loss to Boston Celtics in Game 5

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout loss to Boston Celtics in Game 5

BOSTON — Everything the Wizards wanted to avoid to begin Game 5 at TD Garden – turnovers, uncontested shots allowed and an inability to hit their own – took place Wednesday. As a result, they trail the semifinals with the Boston Celtics 3-2 after a 123-101 defeat.

After going up 4-0, the Wizards fell apart as the Celtics hit them with a 16-0 run and led by as many as 22 in the first half. Avery Bradley (29 points) was the engine as Isaiah Thomas (18 points, nine assists) was blanketed and taken out of the offense again.

The Celtics, however, didn't need Thomas the way they relied on him for 53 points in a comeback in overtime to win Game 2 here where the Wizards haven't won since the regular-season finale in 2014.

Jae Crowder (18 points, eight rebounds), Al Horford (19 points, seven assists) and Amir Johnson (eight points, five rebounds) also had good games.

John Wall (21 points), who rebounded in Game 4 after opening 0-for-9 shooting, began 1-for-7 as the Wizards allowed 58% shooting while having an accuracy rate that was 20% less from the field.

Markieff Morris (nine points) wasn’t much of a factor, airballing an open three-point shot, and Otto Porter (13 points) and Marcin Gortat (seven points, 11 rebounds) didn’t do much to help.

The Wizards’ transition defense evaporated as Boston had a 19-14 edge in fast-break points by halftime alone, unable to stop the leakouts for layups and dunks.

While they stuck to Thomas and prevented him from dominating by coming extra bodies to clog the paint, that’s almost all that went right as the Wizards go back to Verizon Center for Game 6 on Friday in hopes of forcing a Game 7 back at TD on Monday.

[RELATED: Celtics fans chant Oubre's name during Game 5]

--The Wizards continued to bottle up Thomas on the perimeter and feed him to the bigs in the middle. Through three quarters he’d only attempted seven shots for 10 points but his teammates made their shots on the extra pass off the Wizards’ scheme. When Horford shot 8-for-9 and even Johnson got into the act with chip shots at the rim going 4-for-5.

--The pronounced size advantage was absent on the boards. After being plus-26 in the previous two wins, the Wizards didn’t create any separation this area as the margin was 48-45 in favor of the Celtics.

--Horford was the rim protection that Boston had lacked all series. In the first half alone he had three blocks at the rim, denying Wall twice on drives to the basket for what appeared to be layups. They still aggressively trapped Beal with the ball and the shooters weren’t able to make them pay for it. The Wizards shot 7-for-29 on threes.

-- In Kelly Oubre’s return from a one-game suspension for his part in a Game 3 altercation with Kelly Olynyk, he went from being greeted with boos to a four-letter chant late in the third and quarters. Oubre (13 points, three rebounds) was the lone bright spot for the Wizards before the score got out of hand.

--The matchup problem that is Morris has put the Celtics in scramble mode. Horford, who has been crossmatched against him a lot this series, helped make him uncomfortable to the point that Morris shot a brick on a wide-open mid-range shot. When Morris had the undersized Crowder posted, Horford aggressively ran out to force him into a turnover that led to a transition three-pointer.

--Marcus Smart (nine points) ran less of the offense for the Celtics, which was a good thing for them. His turnover-prone ball-handling was alleviated as Terry Rozier (five points) had a greater role. Smart focused on the defensive end and knocked down a pair of spot-up threes in the fourth.

--With 25 of his points in the first half, Bradley set a career playoff-high.

[RELATED: Thomas fined for verbal altercation with Wizards fan]

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5 observations about the Wizards at the midway point of the 2019-20 season

5 observations about the Wizards at the midway point of the 2019-20 season

The Wizards' 29-point loss to the Raptors on Friday night was the 41st game of the year, meaning Washington's 2019-20 regular season is officially halfway through.

With that in mind, here are five observations from the season so far; some expected and some unexpected...

They are who we thought they were

In some ways, this season has gone exactly how most thought it would. Bradley Beal has been an All-Star level player, but poor defense and an inexperienced roster around him has led to a team headed safely towards the lottery. They are 13-28 after 41 games, meaning they are on pace to win 26 on the season.

That's about what Vegas predicted, as evidenced by over/under win totals that stayed around 28.5. And that's what most reasonable forecasts had them being; a team with intriguing talent that was probably a year away from contending for the playoffs again.

Sheppard has found some guys

The early returns on the Tommy Sheppard era are good and that should be seen as one of the most important positives of this season so far. Just look at the gems he has acquired in a relatively short period of time as general manager. He drafted Rui Hachimura, a plug-and-play guy, with the ninth overall pick. He got Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga in trades basically for nothing. 

He got Garrison Mathews out of nowhere. He signed Ish Smith instead of giving more money to Tomas Satoransky. And even his minor deals with guys like Anzejs Pasecniks and Gary Payton II have impressed to a degree.

It is very early in his tenure, but Sheppard is showing he has the ability to find diamonds in the rough, a skill that is one of the biggest separators between GMs.

It has also become evident on social media that Sheppard is gaining some clout among fans. Given the previous distrust in the front office, that is definitely worth noting.

The injuries have been ridiculous

Though injuries happen to every team and they are ultimately no excuse, the health of the Wizards has undoubtedly been a major part of their season to this point. They have had as many as eight players missing at times due to injury, or in other words more than half of their roster.

That has included two hardship exceptions and the players acquired as a result were even starting at times. Their best players have been hurt, even Beal who had previously played 194 straight games. Lately, they have been getting healthy, but the rash of injuries was enough to leave its mark on their 2019-20 campaign as a whole.

Beal may or may not be sold on the future

Though this season has mostly gone as expected, it has been fair to wonder how Beal has handled it all, given he is far and away their best player. He signed a contract extension to be part of this, but he's used to winning more games and it's only natural for him to be frustrated with how things have gone.

Beal backed up those theories with his comments this week about the team's culture, and the whole situation is going to be worth watching closely moving forward. The Wizards' best player appears to be a bit anxious about the franchise's future. Whether they can match their timeline to contend with his remains to be seen.

The Wall thing is going to get interesting

This was also pretty easy to call going into this season. Now over 11 months into his recovery from a ruptured Achilles, John Wall is making steady progress towards a return and the debates of whether he should come back this season or not are coming into focus. 

The discourse was taken up a notch recently with NBC Sports Washington's report about him playing in three-on-three scrimmages, and then again days after with video of those games. Though he isn't quite ready to come back, he is looking good and there are still three months remaining in the Wizards' season. 

Will he be ready one month from now, or two? Even if he is, will the Wizards bring him back or wait until next season? Those are major questions with no easy answers.


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Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Whether it's good or bad, nothing the Wizards do is subtle. 

They'll score a million points and give up two million points. They'll beat the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics without Bradley Beal but also blow an 18-point fourth quarter lead to the Bulls. 

The Wizards had some turnover issues Friday night, but again, they're never subtle. 

Washington committed 28 turnovers on the way to a 29-point loss. Following the first seven minutes of play, the Wizards had seven turnovers and seven points. 

The last time the Wizards turned the ball over that much was April 2, 1994, in a 104-96 win over the Bucks. The last time an NBA team turned it over 28 times? The 2010 Suns. 

Nine Wizards players had multiple turnovers, while five players had at least three. 

Following Bradley Beal's comments criticizing the team's culture and need to develop winning habits, the Wizards' response left more than enough to be desired. Credit the Raptors defense utilizing their length and ball pressure to take advantage of when the Wizards were loose with the ball, but it takes more than good defense to turn it over 28 times. 

The bright side is this was an uncharacteristic performance for the Wizards. They currently average the 10th-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA, so there's a good chance they clean things up on Monday against the Pistons. 

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