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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Boston Celtics in Game 2

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Boston Celtics in Game 2

BOSTON – With a split in hand, the Wizards blew another double-digit lead, missed two chances to win Game 2 at the end of regulation and despite a 40-point game from John Wall succumbed to the Boston Celtics in overtime at TD Garden on Tuesday, 129-119.

The return home for Game 3 at Verizon Center on Thursday in a must-win situation.

Isaiah Thomas (53 points) exploded in the fourth quarter. He entered it with 24 and knocked down a series of three-pointers until Avery Bradley (14 points) put them ahead with a three at 102-99.

The Wizards took a 110-104 lead by allowed threes from Thomas and Terry Rozier (12 points) and Wall and Bradley Beal each missed chances to win to end the game in regulation.

Marcin Gortat (14 points, 10 rebounds) fouled out 41 seconds into overtime and Markieff Morris (16 points, six rebounds) fouled out on a reach-in on Thomas for a three-point play that gave Boston an insurmountable six-point lead with 67 seconds left.

Wall had his second 40-plus point game of the postseason and bested his initial playoff career high of 42 in a Game 6 closeout of the Atlanta Hawks. He missed his jump shot on the final play of regulation and Beal’s offensive rebound follow-up shot was short.

Morris (16 points) got Washington back after briefly losing the lead in the fourth. He made a jumper to put them back ahead 105-104, had a blocked shot on help defense that led to a bucket for Beal and then drained another jumper for a 109-104 lead with 3:09 left.

Morris was a matchup nightmare for Boston which couldn’t find anyone capable of marking him. Gortat missed two chip shots at the rim early that could’ve boosted his totals and Jason Smith (10 points, two blocks) was a spark early to get the Wizards out to a 13-point lead with a pair of three-pointers.

Thomas’ two foul shots tied the score at 114 to force the extra period.

Jae Crowder (14 points) couldn’t replicate his Game 1 performance from long range when he made 6 of 8 threes. Al Horford (15 points, 12 rebounds) was kept in check by Gortat and Avery Bradley (14 points) wasn’t a force though his three put Boston ahead 102-99 until Morris’ explosion.

The Wizards led 50-40 with Beal (14 points) and Otto Porter (13 points, nine rebounds) combining to shoot 0-for-3 from the field.

It was a physical game from the start with Wall, Porter, Beal, Thomas and Bradley coming up limp at different times. Wall fell hard on the left hand/wrist that he broke two seasons ago in the second round of the playoffs but shook it off.

Including the regular season, the Wizards are 0-4 at TD Garden.

[RELATED: Technicals handed out after Otto Porter's nose gushes open in Game 2]

--Beal and Wall isolated Thomas on switches and picked up two fouls on him less than three minutes into the first quarter. The Celtics successfully hid Thomas on Kelly Oubre (12 points), who hesitated to make his move on the 5-9 point guard and allowed help to come seal him from the rim twice on blocked shots. Oubre isn’t comfortable breaking down opponents off the dribble and doesn’t have a low-post game but would’ve been better off giving up the ball quickly and cutting to the rim where Thomas had no chance of defending him if he got it back going full speed. And he’s not adept at passing in traffic to pick apart the help to get his teammates easier shots just yet.

--Morris didn’t look any worse for wear with his left ankle. In fact, he picked up his first foul by tossing Horford, who hurt him in Game 1 by sticking his foot underneath him on his jumper, to the floor while chasing a loose ball. The Celtics tried to defend Morris with Kelly Olynyk who got roasted off the dribble every time on the face up and picked up two quick fouls. But Morris, who was saddled with foul trouble for most of the series with the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, had three by 5:35 of the first half. The Celtics tried to defend him with guards such as Marcus Smart on switches and that didn’t work either as Morris didn’t show ill effects of the ankle injury. But after Morris picked up his fourth foul he re-entered with 8:06 left in the fourth and picked up his fifth on a three-point play for Thomas just 22 seconds in.

--Bradley collected an airball from Thomas and put it back for a 61-60 lead late in  the second quarter but appeared to favor his side or back. He winced repeatedly and had to leave the floor. He came back and made a go-ahead three at 7:06 to put Boston up 102-99.

-- It’s difficult for Wizards coach Scott Brooks to keep Bojan Bogdanovic (zero points) on the floor because he has been a liability on both ends. He has trouble getting off his shots against quicker defenders and keeping up defensively with the cutters as they attack his feet. He played just eight minutes and shot 0-for-2.

--After the Celtics knocked down 19 threes in Game 1, the Wizards did a better job running them off the line and living with two-point jumpers instead. Still, they made 6 of 14 by halftime though they didn’t come as easily. Porter forced two misses by Rozier and the one that he did make came off of a contest with the shot clock expiring from the corner.

--Morris picked up his fourth foul at 7:47 of the third but ended up in a shoving match with Thomas. Both were hit with technical but Morris appeared unhappy with Porter having his nose bloodied.

--Amir Johnson started for Boston because coach Brad Stevens wanted his size vs. Morris. He lasted four minutes and didn’t start the second half. This was similar to what took place in a regular-season matchup when Johnson only played four minutes despite starting. When the third quarter began, Marcus Smart was on the floor in a three-guard lineup in Johnson’s place.

--With Wall off the floor and Brandon Jennings as his replacement, the Wizards were better running the offense with Beal on the ball. He automatically draws double teams and that helped even though he couldn’t find his own shot. Late in the second quarter, however, Beal was indecisive and out of sync with Gortat who wasn’t cutting to the basket quick enough and allowing Horford to trap the ball. Beal’s first made field goal didn’t come until 3:30 left in the half with a three-pointer. He had just four points – and four turnovers.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Morris shoves Horford out of bounds early in Game 2]

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NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division


NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Southeast Division...

Washington Wizards, B+

2017-18 finish: 43-39, 1st round of playoffs
In: C Dwight Howard, G Austin Rivers, G Troy Brown, Jr., F Jeff Green, C Thomas Bryant
Out: C Marcin Gortat, F Mike Scott, G Ty Lawson, G Tim Frazier, G Ramon Sessions, F Chris McCullough

Given the circumstances of their salary cap situation, the Wizards did quite well for themselves this summer. They shook things up by trading Gortat and actually got something solid back for him in Rivers. They then filled Gortat's spot with an eight-time All-Star in Howard and did so at a bargain price, the taxpayer mid-level exception. They also added Green at a nice price and Brown, who acquitted himself nicely in the Summer League. Whether the Wizards made a major leap forward is debatable, but the potential is there for them to re-install themselves as contenders in the East. The possibility things go wrong is also there, but all in all, a strong summer for the Wizards.

Atlanta Hawks, B

2017-18 finish: 24-58, missed playoffs
In: G Jeremy Lin, C Alex Len, G Trae Young, G Vince Carter, G Kevin Huerter, F Justin Anderson, F Omari Spellman
Out: G Dennis Schroeder, C Mike Muscala, C Dewayne Dedmon, G Malcolm Delaney, G Isaiah Tayor

The Hawks did a nice job with the draft by picking up an extra first round pick just to move back two spots (from third to fifth) in their trade with the Mavericks. They added Young with the fifth pick and then got Huerter later on at No. 18. The Len signing at two years and $8.5 million looks like a bargain and they added a nice mix of veteran free agents and young players to develop. It will probably be a few years before the Hawks are back in the playoffs, but they seemed to take a step forward this summer.

Miami Heat, D

2017-18 finish: 44-38, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Duncan Robinson
Out: G Dwyane Wade, G Wayne Ellington, F Luke Babbitt

The Heat had one of the least impactful summers of any team in the NBA. The biggest addition they have so far, and this is true, is Robinson. They didn't make any draft picks and struck out in free agency. What they did do is let go of Wade, Ellington and others. The only way the Heat improve year-over-year is if their young guys like Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow take a big step forward. 

Charlotte Hornets, C+

2017-18 finish: 36-46, missed playoffs
In: C Bismack Biyombo, F Miles Bridges, G Devonte' Graham
Out: C Dwight Howard, G Michael Carter-Williams, G Treveon Graham

New Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak quickly turned the franchise into a different direction this offseason by trading Howard to the Nets. They then added Biyombo in a deal with the Magic and acquired Bridges through the draft. There isn't a lot to love or hate about the Hornets' offseason, so they fall in the middle of the grading scale. The real question now is what they do with Kemba Walker, who has just one year left on his contract.

Orlando Magic, B+

2017-18 finish: 25-57, missed playoffs
In: C Mohamed Bamba, C Timofey Mozgov, F Justin Jackson, F Jarell Martin, G Jerian Grant
Out: G Mario Hezonja, C Marreese Speights, G Arron Aflalo

The Magic had a strong summer. The re-signed forward Aaron Gordon, a rising young player, and drafted Bamba, who has the tools to become an All-Star and a dominant defensive force. They had some questionable moves, like trading for Mozgov, but the future looks a lot brighter for the Magic than it did just a few months ago.

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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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