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Takeaways from Wizards' Game 1 loss to Boston Celtics

Takeaways from Wizards' Game 1 loss to Boston Celtics

BOSTON – The start couldn’t have been better for the Wizards in Game 1 of the conference semifinals, but they’re still winless at TD Garden this season and that includes Sunday’s 123-111 loss to the Celtics.

John Wall (20 points, 16 assists) and Bradley Beal (27 points, four assists) got them to a 16-0 start but by halftime Washington’s lead was down to 64-59.

The three-point shooting of the Celtics proved too much to overcome as Isaiah Thomas (33 points, nine assists) and Jae Crowder (24 points) led the effort. As a team, they shot 19-for-39 from long range.

Al Horford (21 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds), Avery Bradley (18 points) and Kelly Olynyk (12 points) provided a strong supporting cast. Game 2 is Tuesday at TD Garden.

What became as large as a 17-point lead in the first quarter for the Wizards turned into a 15-point deficit entering the fourth as they were outdone by eight third-quarter turnovers and never could find their rhythm after losing Markieff Morris to a foot/ankle injury in the first half.

Otto Porter (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (16 points, 13 rebounds) did their part for the starters and the bench got an early flurry from Kelly Oubre (12 points) and a late one from Bojan Bogdanovic (10 points).

The Wizards opened the fourth with a run that cut the deficit to 103-99 but the flurry of threes began again from Horford, Jaylen Brown and Crowder to quickly push the lead back to double-digits.

Wall and Beal never were much of a factor after halftime.

[RELATED: Wall arrives for Wizards-Celtics Game 1 in pink suit]

--Rebounding was a mismatch early as the Wizards had a 14-5 edge. But that leveled off as the Celtics’ hustle got them back in it. They had a 14-7 rebounding edge in the third quarter when the Wizards had eight turnovers and allowed six threes by Boston.

--Crowder’s corner three off a mad scramble in which Oubre and Gortat hustled back in transition for blocks gave Boston its first lead at 73-71 at 6:55 of the third. Crowder made 5 of 6 threes as his team went into the fourth leading 95-80.

--Morris faced up Horford to go 1 vs. 1 to get the Wizards back in rhythm but he came down on his foot. A foul was called on Horford for not giving him a place to land but Morris stayed on the floor for several minutes before he was able to stand up and shook off his left foot. Morris has missed time this season because of his left foot and ankle. After making the foul shot, Morris left the floor and was replaced by Beal. Morris didn’t return until the third quarter began.

--Thomas was hidden on Porter, who wasn’t always able to turn that matchup into points. But he was able to get a double-double. The Wizards used Wall, Oubre, Porter and Beal to defend Thomas.

--Gortat didn’t have a big series vs. the Hawks because of their scheme of sitting back Dwight Howard, who is bigger and stronger, and clogging the lane. That took away Gortat’s dives on the screen-and-roll action with the guards. Boston, however, is undersized and the Wizards went right at Horford to begin the game and it resulted in a bucket for Gortat. He had a tapout that led to Beal’s 3 for a 5-0 lead.

--Boston tried to go to Amir Johnson to give them another dimension but he didn’t last long. He’s a skill and size mismatch still, and only lasted eight minutes.

--Horford picked up his third foul with 35.2 seconds left in the first half as he hit Porter’s arm as he crashed the glass. But he asserted himself late on the offensive glass and made his first three-pointer for a 106-99 lead midway in the fourth.

--If it weren’t for Olynyk, the game would’ve been over by the second quarter. But coach Brad Stevens adeptly realized that the Wizards were giving him up to take away their offense and he went to him in the post vs. smaller defenders. The 7-footer was too big for Porter and Oubre and got shots at the rim. He made 4 of 5 in the first quarter with Horford feeding him through high/low post action. As soon as Olynyk ducked in, he had the ball and was directly at the rim.

--Bogdanovic was exploited by the Celtics, who attacked in him every matchup which is why he picked up three fouls in his first seven minutes on the floor. That disrupted Bogdanovic’s rhythm as he was never able to be a factor until he scored seven points in a 28-second stretch of the fourth.

[RELATED: PHOTO: Celtics' Thomas lost front tooth in 1st quarter vs. Wizards]

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Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Not only are the Washington Wizards dominating the NBA 2K simulation, but they are also doing it against some tough competition. 

With a 70-61 win over the Toronto Raptors, Washington has now won seven of nine simulations. Other victories have come against the likes of the Bucks, Lakers and 76ers. In the 2K world, the Wizards are consistently beating the best.

In the latest win, the formula remained the same as past simulations. Behind another big night from Rui Hachimura (21 points) and some added scoring from Bradley Beal (12 points), the Wizards offense was able to put up enough to get past Toronto. Timely runs in the second half and some stingy defense left the Raptors with no chance to mount a comeback as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Here are some key takeaways from the Wizards win.

Rui keeps on rolling 

There has been no stopping the Wizards rookie in 2K as of late. With 21 points, he now has back-to-back 20-point performances. The first-round pick of Washington in 2019 has been doing it on both ends of the floor, sparking big plays with blocks and finishing at the rim.

Hachimura also stepped behind the line and showed some range on Tuesday, hitting a smooth-looking three-pointer.

It's been a great 2K run for Hachimura overall as of late, as he also took down Donovan Mitchell in the first round of the 2K Player Tournament.

Strong finish

Though the Wizards played well throughout, it was a dominant stretch toward the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth that sealed the win.

A 16-6 run to close the third coupled with a 16-3 run early in the fourth gave Washington a comfortable lead. After taking a 42-41 lead in the third, the Raptors would never lead again.


Dominant inside, efficient outside

Similar to other simulations, the Wizards once again did a lot of their scoring inside the paint. Washington outscored the Raptors 46-32 in the paint, finishing at the rim in multiple ways consistently. 

Thomas Bryant was once again a beast down low, throwing down dunks and recording a team-high 16 rebounds in addition to 10 points to complete a double-double.

Though the real NBA has become a three-point heavy game, it hasn't quite translated to 2K. The Wizards only attempted eight shots from behind the arc on the night, a number that could sometimes come from just a few possessions in a real game. Even more peculiar, Davis Bertans didn't register a single three-point attempt. 

Yet, the Wizards made the most of the attempts, going 4-from-8 from three. Of course, Bradley Beal was in the mix.

Run for the (simulation) playoffs?

In the 2K universe, the Wizards entered Tuesday just two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth spot in the East. With a win, the virtual team may have inched even closer to the playoffs. 

Simulation-wise, Washington could not have asked for a better stretch of play.

The 2K Wizards will be back in action Friday at 7 p.m. ET against the Rockets. 

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Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

By the time Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA subsequently suspended the 2019-20 season, a number of teams who'd played Utah leading up to the suspension had to self-quarantine as a precaution. 

One of them was the Washington Wizards.

They suffered a 10-point loss to the Jazz 12 days before Gobert tested positive, so they urged their players to self-quarantine for several days. Fortunately for the Wizards, no player ended up tested positive for the virus.

Washington's second-year wing joined Chris Miller on the Wizards Talk Podcast and gave a window into what his reaction was to the fact he had played the Jazz leading up to Gobert's positive test. 

"I wasn't touching [Gobert]," Brown said with a laugh. "I didn't go in for no layups or anything like that. But all jokes aside though, it was one of those things that was scary because I didn't know really what to expect coming out of it."

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW BELOW

Heading into the league's suspension, Brown was enjoying a strong season where he showed a lot of improvement from his rookie year. He was averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on much better shooting splits (45.3% FG, 34.5% 3P in 19-20 vs. 41.5% FG, 31.9% 3P in 18-19). 

Brown seemed to have much more success coming off the bench with a unit in which he had more ball-handling opportunities. We'll see if he can continue to grow when basketball returns, though the 20-year-old is forced to focus on the challenges that come with isolation. 

"It definitely is a lot easier being with my family and being in my own space and being able to make decisions for myself," Brown said. "Being in D.C. was kind of hard because I didn't have anybody else there besides my dog, living by myself in quarantine. I feel like it's those people that are struggling with the quarantine stuff being isolated by themselves because you don't really know what to do."

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