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Why are Wizards-Celtics playing Game 1 Sunday when Cavs and Raptors have more rest?

Why are Wizards-Celtics playing Game 1 Sunday when Cavs and Raptors have more rest?

The Wizards finished off the Hawks in Game 6 on Friday, April 28. The Celtics-Bulls series also ended in six games on Friday. When news broke that Washington and Boston would begin their second-round series on Sunday, some fans were scratching their heads. 

Why – when the Cavaliers and Raptors finished their first-rounds on April 23 and 27, respectively – were the less rested teams starting sooner? That gives LeBron James and company a full eight days to recover. 

Conspiracy theorists will say the NBA wants James to rest as much as possible to increase the odds of a Finals rematch with the Warriors. 

But in reality, scheduling is much more complex and much less salacious than all that. First understand that there are a set of parameters that influence the process from the beginning. 

– Slotting games into programming grids is difficult, especially on networks with lots of other live content like ABC and ESPN, so it's prudent to plan for the second round before the first round even begins.  

– To simplify that process, schedulers try to keep teams on a Thursday-Saturday or Wednesday-Friday rhythmn (as allowable) and plan for each series to go seven games.

– The NBA and its broadcast partners try to take advantage of Sunday viewership by starting series on Sundays. 

Given those considerations, it's not difficult to see how Wizards-Celtics ended up on Sunday and Cavaliers-Raptors on Monday. Here's how it worked. 

Cleveland and Toronto were Thursday-Saturday teams, while Washington and Boston were Wednesday-Friday. 

If Cavs-Pacers had gone seven games, Game 7 would have been on Saturday, April 29. That meant the earliest schedulers planned to start the second round for either team would be Monday. 

Meanwhile, the Wizards and Celtics were already slotted to play Game 7s on Sunday if that had been necessary.

So when both teams won in six, it allowed the NBA to start the second-round series on a Sunday without having to change the broadcast schedule. They also had the same amount of rest going into the second round, so neither were disadvantaged by the Sunday start. 

In summation, Washington is playing Sunday because the NBA plans playoff games far in advance and wants to avoid disrupting the broadcast schedule. 

MORE WIZARDS: Wall arrives for Wizards-Celtics Game 1 in pink suit

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

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Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

After Tim Connelly decided to re-join the Nuggets rather than take the Wizards' vacant front-office position, Washington has been forced back to the drawing board.

The Wizards have interviewed Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver, former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and Wizards interim team president Tommy Sheppard.

In addition to those names, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported the team could have interest in Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. 

That option was eliminated Friday when Olshey signed an extension to remain with Portland. 

With Connelly and Olshey off the table, there are fewer high-profile candidates left for the Wizards to consider as replacements for Ernie Grunfeld. 

Standig noted that Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris could also draw interest from Washington. 

The franchise is running out of time to find their new front-office leader with less than a month remaining before the NBA Draft. 

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