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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 Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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