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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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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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