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Takeaways from Wizards' defensive letdown vs. Heat

Takeaways from Wizards' defensive letdown vs. Heat

Offense isn't a problem for the Wizards with the way John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing. They bled points, however, to the depleted Miami Heat again in a 112-101 loss Monday at American Airlines Arena.

John Wall (30 points, eight assists, six rebounds) led the way for the Wizards, who couldn't win their third game in a row for the first time this season. Bradley Beal (29 points, four steals), Markieff Morris (10 points), Otto Porter (nine points) and Marcin Gortat (seven points, 10 rebounds) rounded out the starters. 

Goran Dragic (season-high 34 points) was unstoppable as he made 14-of-23 shots as Miami ended a five-game losing streak and shot 51.1percent from the field. 

In early November, the Heat scored 114 points -- about 21 over their average at the time -- in a win at Verizon Center. 

They had fewer pieces available Monday with Dion Waiters (groin) out. 

-- The Wizards fell down 86-82 to start the fourth quarter, but it was Kelly Oubre (six points, five rebounds) who energized them yet again. Oubre drove to the basket and got a foul call and made both shots. He then stole an inbounds pass from Tyler Johnson (11 points) for a dunk to tie the score.

--The bench did its job to hand the starters a 38-30 lead in the second quarter after two free throws from Trey Burke (four points). But when they went into halftime, the Wizards trailed 59-53.

-- Dragic picked up his fourth foul in the first two minutes of the third quarter and he had to go to the bench. The Wizards were able to chop down an 11-point deficit and take an 80-75 lead.

-- The coverage on the screens between Dragic and Whiteside started out strong, but Gortat and the backcourt didn't seem in sync most of the time. 

-- Coach Scott Brooks went to a smaller lineup in the fourth. Instead of Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter and Gortat, he used Morris as the center. The problem was the Heat started running pick-and-rolls with James Johnson (14 points), a reserve forward playing as a spread five, running the set. Dragic, instead, was screening for him and popping for the open shot. The Wizards had no idea how to defend that wrinkle and it showed.

[RELATED: NBA Insider Notebook: Time for a Magic-Rockets trade?]

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76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

After exiting the 76ers-Wizards matchup early Wednesday night, Ben Simmons was diagnosed with subluxation of the left patella on Thursday.

Simmons left the game during the third quarter and did not return. The injury occurred after he grabbed an offensive rebound and dribbled to the corner to pass to Al Horford in the post. Following the play, he began flexing his left leg and left for the locker room. Simmons was seen walking gingerly in street clothes minutes later.  

Before leaving the game, Simmons recorded eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 23 minutes.

Simmons’ diagnosis of a partially dislocated kneecap leaves him out indefinitely as he and the team consider treatment options. He has already been ruled out of Philadelphia’s game against the Orlando Magic on Friday. However, his MRI showed no ligament damage in the knee, which leaves him optimistic to return later in the playoffs.

His knee injury is not the only injury Simmons has had to overcome this season. He also missed the final eight games before the NBA’s hiatus with a nerve impingement in his lower back, but fully recovered before the restart began.

Playing without an All-Star player will be a challenge for Philadelphia, but the team has proven successful thus far in Orlando. The Sixers have gone 2-1 in the bubble and currently trail the Indiana Pacers by one game for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and are two games behind the Miami Heat for fourth. 

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Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

While a number of teams are fighting to be the favorite heading into the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a key endorsement from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.

When asked who he thought will win it all this year, Durant chose the Clippers defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals and upsetting the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. 

"They're just so deep," Durant said of the Clippers on “Play For Keeps” podcast. "They haven't had their whole team together at once for a long period of time yet, and that talent is just undeniable. When you have [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] at the wings, that's what you need to win is wings. You got those two at the wings, arguably top three, top four at the wing position on one team."

So far in Orlando, the Clippers have gone 1-2 after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and falling to the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As of now, they hold the two-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. However, they are currently just a half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with five seeding games remaining.

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The Lakers clinched the one-seed last week and are up six games in the standings over their cross-town rivals.

ESPN’s playoff odds gave the Clippers a 10% chance of winning it all. They ranked third behind the Bucks with a 49.7% chance and the Lakers at 18.7%. 

Durant chose Los Angeles over his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, who are also in a good position to make the playoffs as the current seven-seed in the East Conference. However, the Nets are playing in Orlando without eight players including a number of starters like Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Durant, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

If his team retains the seven-seed heading into the playoffs, they would likely face the Toronto Raptors, who Durant projected would fall to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But regardless of seeding, Durant acknowledged it’s still anyone’s game.

“I hate doing that s---,” he said about predicting a winner. “You never know what could happen – you seen that with us last year.”

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