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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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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

nassir-little-unc-auburn-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nassir Little

School: North Carolina
Position: Forward
Age: 19
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
Wingspan: 7-1
Max vertical: 38.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.8 FG% (3.6/7.6), 26.9 3PT% (0.4/1.4), 77.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Justise Winslow

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 16th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 14th

5 things to know:

*Little came to UNC as their top-ranked recruit and the sixth-ranked player in his class, but didn't live up to those expectations in his one year in Chapel Hill. There is a debate about whether he will be better suited for the NBA, given his athleticism and playing style. The team who drafts him could come away with a steal if the latter proves true.

*He is more known for his defense at this point. Little is an aggressive and physical perimeter defender who could develop into a Marcus Smart-like pest. Though he didn't force a ton of turnovers in college, Little clearly gave opposing teams problems with his energy and length. 

*There are questions about whether Little will ever be more than a dunker on the offensive end. He is excellent in transition and cutting to the rim, but he didn't do much creating off the dribble in college and needs to work on his outside shooting. He shot just 26.9 percent from three at UNC.

*Little had a strong combine with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Those numbers helped his reputation as one of the most athletic wings in this year's class.

*Both of Little's parents were in the U.S. military. He had a 4.2 GPA in high school and was named Academic All-ACC.

Fit with Wizards: Little fits with the Wizards given he is a small forward and they currently have an opening there. He would also give them something they need in terms of style as a physical wing defender. Little is the type of player who could help them improve their horrid three-point defense.

But Little's raw skillset suggests he may take some time to develop offensively and it brings into question how high his ceiling will ultimately prove to be. The Wizards may be able to find someone with the ninth pick who can both contribute sooner than Little and offer a clearer road to potential stardom.

That said, if Little's game is indeed more designed for the NBA than in college, he could impress in pre-draft workouts and end up rising up the board.

Best highlight video:
https://youtu.be/oGIQDUttG8I

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

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USA Today Sports Images

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Bol Bol

School: Oregon
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-3
Weight: 208
Wingspan: 7-7
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.7 bpg, 56.1 FG% (8.2/14.7), 52.0 3PT% (1.4/2.8), 75.7 FT%

Player comparison: Kristaps Porzingis, Thon Maker

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 12th, NBADraft.net 18th, Bleacher Report 9th, Sports Illustrated 17th, Ringer 12th

5 things to know:

*Bol has a chance to be perfectly suited for this era of NBA unicorns. He is over 7-feet tall, yet is highly skilled for his size. He can run the floor, make plays off the dribble and shoot from outside. He is also an adept shot-blocker with the instincts to maximize his height and length.

*Bol is the son of former Bullets player Manute Bol. His father was drafted by Washington in 1985 and played three seasons with the team to start his career. He later returned to play for the Bullets in 1993 for another year. The elder Bol was 7-foot-7 and is among the tallest players in NBA history. He famously was teammates with Muggsy Bogues, who stood just 5-foot-3.

*He only played in nine games with Oregon due to a stress fracture in his left foot. A stress fracture is always ominous for a basketball player, but especially for a big man. If it weren't for the injury, Bol would probably be in the top-five range. Whichever team takes him will be going high-risk, high-reward, not unlike the Nuggets with Michael Porter Jr. last June.

*Bol unsurprisingly turned heads at the NBA Combine. He measured in about 7-foot-3 and with a 7-7 wingspan. If it weren't for Tacko Fall, those each would have led this year's class. Bol also has a 9-foot-7 1/2-ing standing reach. That means he can nearly touch the rim without jumping.

*Perhaps the most interesting stat when it comes to Bol is his three-point shooting. Though it was a small sample size, he shot 52 percent from long range and on nearly three atempts per game. For a guy his size, having any sort of three-point shot is noteworthy and to shoot at that clip is exceptional, no matter the position. 

Fit with Wizards: Bol would be a great fit for the Wizards in some regards in that he plays a position of need and would offer star potential. He also would add rim protection, which the Wizards sorely lack. And it would be a nice story, Bol beginning his career with the same franchise that his father did.

But Bol is the type of risk that the Wizards may not be in position to take. They ideally would get someone who does not have injury concerns, someone who could step right in and represent a legitimate building block for the future. 

Maybe that changes if the Wizards' medical team gives him the clear. But Bol seems more likely to fit with the Wizards if they pull off a trade to adde more picks. If they moved back from ninth and got another first round selection, taking Bol wouldn't be nearly as risky.

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