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Wizards-Grizzlies preview: Big matchup on Beale Street?


Wizards-Grizzlies preview: Big matchup on Beale Street?

Matchup: Washington Wizards (10-12) at Dallas Mavericks (13-12)

When: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. (TV: CSN+, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra) 

When last we met: First meeting this season. Washington swept the two-game series last season including a rare win in Memphis, 92-83 on April 4. The Wizards had lost nine straight at FedEx Forum. 

Streaks: With Saturday's 114-11 victory at Dallas Saturday, the Wizards have won three of their last four road games with all the W's coming against teams with winning records. ...While Washington blew a big lead but held on for the win, Memphis fell 100-97 Sunday at Miami despite holding a 16-point cushion. Now the Grizzlies are back home, where they've lost four of six. 

Three things to watch

1. Randolph the reserve: As the NBA moved heavily into small lineups last season, the Wizards and Grizzlies were two teams that remained traditional. Washington started Marcin Gortat and Nene inside while Memphis sported the potent combination of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The Wizards shook things up from the start this season with Nene coming off the bench in favor of Kris Humphries, a perimeter shooting threat. Jared Dudley now occupies that role for Washington. Meanwhile the Grizzlies have now followed suit as Randolph came off the bench Sunday against the Heat. Matt Barnes moved into the starting lineup with former Georgetown star Jeff Green shifting to the stretch-4 role. Despite the loss, the move paid off offensively as Memphis shot 51 percent from the field.

2. Point-producing Porter: Without injured guard Bradley Beal, Washington needed an offensive boost somewhere. Against the Mavs, it came from Otto Porter, who scored a career-high 28 points. Beal won't be back until after Christmas at the earliest so the Wizards need this aggressive version of Porter to hang around. The Wizards are 4-1 this season when he scores at least 17 points.

3. Point guard battle:  Mike Conley isn't always mentioned along the elite floor leaders, but the Grizzlies' guard is among the better two-way options in the league. His steady presence along with the Gasol-Randolph pair inside have carried the Grizzlies in recent seasons. Based on numbers, John Wall rises to this specific challenge. In six meetings dating back to 2011, the Wizards' All-Star is averaging 22.7 points, 8.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and a stunning 41.2 percent on 3-pointers. Of course, Conley's side won four of those six games. His 17.8 points and 7.7 assists helped the cause.

MORE WIZARDS: Is Bradley Beal worth max money?

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?