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Wiz-Hawks by the numbers: Wait, which team has the better record?


Wiz-Hawks by the numbers: Wait, which team has the better record?

Numerical nuggets ahead of the Wizards-Hawks meeting in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 takes place Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Atlanta. The top-seeded Hawks won 60 games during the regular season and defeated the Brooklyn Nets 4-2 in the first round. The fifth-seeded Wizards went 46-36 before sweeping No. 4 Toronto 4-0.

History Lesson

Washington reached the Eastern Conference semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1977-78 and 1978-79. That was also the last time the organization went beyond this round, reaching the NBA Finals both times and claiming the championship in 1978.

Atlanta advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals 15 times before this season, including three straight trips between 2009-11. The Hawks are 0-15 in those appearances. The last time Atlanta reached the conference finals came in 1970 when the Hawks were still part of the Western Conference.

Wizards head coach Randy Wittman spent the first five-plus seasons of his career with the Hawks, which included losing a three-peat of losses in Eastern Conference semifinals between 1986-88.

“That’s 28 years ago, wasn’t it? We had the nemesis Boston Celtics we couldn’t get by," Wittman said.

Manipulate the calendar

During the regular season, this head-to-head battle was an early round TKO. Not only did Atlanta win the season series 3-1 -- the Washington victory came when Atlanta rested all its starters --, but they finished 14 games ahead of the Wizards in the standings. Between Nov. 28 and the end of January, the Southeast Division champs. The locals started 31-15, but finished 15-21.

Since March 7 and including the opening round of the playoffs, the Wizards are 15-9. In that same stretch, the Hawks are 15-12 including Friday's 111-87 series-clinching win over the Nets.

"I think early on they hit their peak like in January," Wall said of the Hawks. "A team like this can get their stride back at any time. I think they got their edge back last night against Brooklyn. They showed things where they are great at. We've shown things where we are great at."

Good John Wall

Not all of his numbers against the Hawks are stellar, but Wall's standard stats in the four regular season games look rather nice: 21.0 points, 9.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds. His shooting percentages certainly went up a notch compared to the regular season.

Wall made shot 44.5 percent overall and 30 percent of his 3-point attempts during the season along with 78.5 percent of his free throws.

Against Atlanta, Wall went 49.2 from the field, 46.7 from beyond the arc and 94.4 from the free throw line, all exceeding his regular season numbers. 

Why the difference against the Hawks?

"They do a great job of taking away the paint points," Wall said. "They want to give up a lot of contested threes and mid-range (shots). I have an opportunity in a lot of our sets to be in the corner. I just have to have the confidence to knock down those shots and believe in my ability."

Of course, the Wizards need the speedy guard to avoid settling for jumpers and instead attack the paint relentlessly whether for kick out passes to teammates or attack the basket. Wall took a smaller percentage of his overall shots at the rim (29.5) against Atlanta compared to the overall season (34.8). He also made a much greater percentage (72.2) of those attempts versus a Hawks team that lacks a major size in the frontcourt.

MORE WIZARDS: Wall dealing with strain from shoulder and turnovers against Hawks

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Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

USA Today

Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

This summer is shaping up to be lucrative for NBA free agents and big man Bobby Portis is well-positioned to cash in. After spending the final three months of the 2018-19 season with the Wizards, Portis is already seeing a healthy market develop ahead of the June 30 start of the league's negotiating period, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Wizards are likely to first extend a qualifying offer on June 30 to make him a restricted free agent. According to Spotrac.com, it will be about $3.6 million and that will give the Wizards the right to match an offer sheet from another franchise.

But teams are already indicating they want Portis, who is just 24 and coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in 50 games. That market includes 5-10 teams and could grow once free agency opens.

Portis is expected to draw interest from the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and Knicks among others, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Despite restricted free agency, Portis has a few things working for him. For one, there are a lot of teams with cap room. Spending won't reach 2016 levels, when the new CBA spiked the salary cap, but there will a lot of money to go around.

Also, guys in Portis' tier will only be helped if the top free agent options continue to dwindle. Klay Thompson looks more likely than ever to stay in Golden State after tearing his ACL. Winning a title could increase the odds Kawhi Leonard re-signs in Toronto, according to reports. And Kevin Durant's torn Achilles has thrown a wrench into the plans of teams with the most money to spend.

There is also the possibility Kemba Walker stays in Charlotte. And Kyrie Irving signing with Brooklyn, if it happens, would leave others exploring backup plans.

Portis isn't directly competing with any of those players, but could benefit if the top options are off the market. His name will only move up the list if that is the case.

Portis also has a unique selling point going for him. He shot 39.3 percent from three this past season and held a 40.3 percent clip to close the year in his 28 games with the Wizards. Three-point shooting is more valuable than ever and he brings that to the table at 6-foot-10.

Portis, who averaged 3.8 three-point attempts per game this past season, was one of only six players 6-10 or taller to shoot at least 39 percent on 3.5 attempts or more (min. 50 G). 

The question for Portis will be whether he gets the money he wants. He turned down an extension with the Chicago Bulls last fall just hours before the deadline to sign one. According to the Chicago Tribune, the deal was worth about $50 million and he wants to be paid in the range of $16 million annually. His asking price was partly why the Bulls traded him to the Wizards in February.

Even if the Wizards clear money, and they are expected to free up some by declining Jabari Parker's $20 million team option by the June 29 deadline, Portis could price himself out of Washington. It might not even take $16 million per year for that to happen.

The Wizards are set to operate through free agency with interim team president Tommy Sheppard at the helm, as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. Sheppard making the call increases Portis' odds of staying, but that doesn't mean the price will match for both sides.


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UNC's Coby White talks Wizards workout, North Carolina and John Wall's legendary mixtape

USA TODAY Sports Images

UNC's Coby White talks Wizards workout, North Carolina and John Wall's legendary mixtape

In Tuesday's Wizards Talk podcast Chris Miller sat down with point guard Coby White, a projected lottery pick from the University of Carolina. 

On Monday, the Wizards worked out White and college teammate Nassir Little in the franchise's highest-profile workout this year. Despite being projected higher than No. 9, White was enthusiastic about the opportunity. 

"These mock drafts are cool, but it's not the real deal," explained White. "If I was to slip and Washington were to select me, I'd be in a great place."

White's passion combined with his impressive skill set enabled him to become the all-time leading scorer in North Carolina high school history. Growing up he followed John Wall, as did every hooper in North Carolina, and he still remembers Wall shredding apart defenses on his legendary high school mixtape. 

"His mixtape was lit," professed White. "The style he played with was uncomparable to anyone else."

What many people don't know about White was that growing up, his dream school was Duke. Once he got to Chapel Hill, however, Roy Williams, his teammates and UNC's winning tradition won him over in a heartbeat. 

"They didn't care how much you had coming in, Coach Williams never promised me playing time," said White. "He just promised me 'I'll be the hardest coach you ever had and I'll try my best to make you the best you can be.'"

At Thursday draft, White's life will be changed forever once he hears his name called and shakes Adam Silver's hand. For Wizards fans, hopefully, that won't happen before the No. 9 pick