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Wizards' perimeter defense compromises Marcin Gortat at rim

Wizards' perimeter defense compromises Marcin Gortat at rim

The record is broken. It's a different day -- Saturday to be exact -- and the same old problems for the Wizards. They can't defend the perimeter properly, they know it and the latest proof comes in the form of a 114-111 loss to one of the worst offenses in the NBA. 

"We're not on the same page defensively at all," said Beal, who had 34 points on 12-for-26 shooting and playing 40 minutes vs. the Miami Heat. "We can't just guard our guys individually, just keep them in front of us. We got to work with that first. I think we rely too much on our help. We're putting too much pressure on our other teammates when we're just letting our guy go by us. We're just not having that effort or we're slow on some of the rotations."

This is exactly what Marcin Gortat said two years ago, which drew the ire of then-teammate Paul Pierce, about them compromising the frontline by allowing too much pentration into the lane.

That was then, after a 38-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015:

You just got to man up and play defense. Each one of us needs to step in and play one-on-one defense. Simple as that. Just stop your guy in front of you. That’s it. You can’t rely constantly on help, and help, and help, and stuff like that. You just got to man up and play defense, and do whatever it takes to win your matchup.

This is now, with teammates echoing Gortat's concerns:

Miami, 3-8 entering the game, was the NBA's 22nd-ranked three-point shooting team at 33.6% but went 13-for-27 to finish at 48.1% vs. the Wizards. They made 43 of 85 shots overall for 50.6% and scored 19 points more than they averaged per game this season (94.5) which was third-worst. 

"They were beating us off the dribble, straight-line drives and they were getting offensive rebounds," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, whose team gave up 18, including nine alone to Hassan Whiteside. "Then we were scrambling and they were getting open threes. We have to be better defensively. We've talked about this many times. It's a process that we're going through and we have to figure out together. But we're getting beat off the dribble."

[RELATED: Film study: Marcin Gortat responsible for Dwight Howard's outburst ... fact or fiction?]

The Wizards led 42-35 midway through the second quarter and then Miami went on a run that included five layups to take the lead 60-59 entering the half. 

"A lot of the times we're switching and still getting beat," Brooks said of the pick-and-roll defense as Goran Dragic (22 points), Dion Waiters (16) and Josh Richardson (15) took advantage. "That's usually the safeguarrd, to just get out of the coverage, man up and guard your man. Dragic was doing that. Waiters was doing that. Richardson was doing that. They were just attacking us. ... When you give up layups, all of a sudden the basket becomes big and you're a three-point shooter and that's what happened tonight. They had guys who normally don't make threes, make threes."

John Wall also had 34 points for Washington, but his focus was what they didn't right on the defensive side of the ball.

"Those basically were workout shots. There was nobody there to contest them," Wall said of the perimeter defense. "Our scoring wasn't the problem for us. We couldn't keep them from getting to the paint. Coach told us before the game they're one of the best teams in the league getting to the paint. They did a great job of spacing the floor and making wide open shots."

Derrick Williams, who shot 14% from three coming into the game, was 2-for-4 (50%). Richardson was shooting 31.3% and shot 4-for-6 (66.7%).

"We could've battled a little bit better," Wall said of being outrebounded 48-38. "March did a great job, still having 16 rebounds. You give him credit for that because he was helping sometimes on the drives. He was just there by himself getting rebounds, getting putbacks."

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' blown chances in loss to Heat]

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Which NBA players are sitting out NBA restart at Disney World?

Which NBA players are sitting out NBA restart at Disney World?

Between concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases in Florida, upcoming free agency, inherent injury risks with playing after a four-month layoff and the issues Kyrie Irving has raised regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, it's understandable that some players may opt to sit out the unprecedented restart at Disney World. 

Players have until June 24 to notify their team that they aren't playing and we've already seen a few players opting to sit out. Here's a running list of NBA players who are reportedly not planning to play in Orlando later this summer.

DeAndre Jordan, Brookly Nets: Jordan announced himself that he tested positive for COVID-19 and because of it will be foregoing the restart in Orlando. 

Wilson Chandler, Brooklyn Nets: Siting the health and well-being of his family, Chandler informed the Nets he would not be participating in the season's restart, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews

Willie Cauley-Stein, Dallas Mavericks: According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Mavs' center is expecting the birth of his child in July, so he will not be going to Orlando.

Avery Bradley, Los Angeles Lakers: Bradley elected not to play in Orlando due to his six-year-old son's past struggles with respiratory illnesses. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, it was unlikely Bradley would've been medically cleared to enter the bubble with his family.  

DeMarcus Cousins, FA: Despite interest from multiple teams, Cousins reportedly plans to sit out the restart to continue his rehab from a torn ACL.

Trevor Ariza, Portland Trail Blazers: Ariza is reportedly involved in a custody case for his 12-year-old son. He decided not to participate in the NBA restart in order to be with his son during a one-month visitation period that coincided with the season schedule.

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards: Bertans opted not to play in Florida to prevent injury before he hits free agency. Bertans is in line for a big contract and has torn his ACL twice in the past. 

John Wall, Washington Wizards: Some hoped the season's delay would mean Wall could return to the floor for a playoff run alongside Bradley Beal. Even though Wall has said he's 110% healthy, he remains focused on returning next season. 

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets: Similar to Wall, Durant was expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season with an Achilles injury and will not return despite being afforded extra time to recover. 

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets: Irving has stated he's against playing in Orlando amid the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, but he's also still recovering from a shoulder injury and is not expected to play. 

Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz: Bogdanovic underwent season-ending wrist surgery in May and will not play in Orlando, according to ESPN

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs: Aldridge will miss out on the season restart as well thanks to season-ending shoulder surgery, per ESPN.

Kelly Oubre Jr., Phoenix Suns: Oubre suffered a meniscus injury in March and underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair his right knee.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Bradley Beal believes NBA restart could help, not distract from social justice reform

Bradley Beal believes NBA restart could help, not distract from social justice reform

Though he is undecided on whether to play in Orlando, Wizards star Bradley Beal does not believe the NBA's restart will be a distraction from the nationwide movement for social justice reform. 

Beal, whose own decision is more about his health, can see both sides, including that of Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard who have suggested NBA players should sit out to raise awareness for racial injustice. But Beal views it differently, knowing the potential the players have to continue the conversation when the spotlight is on them.

"I feel like we stopped playing basketball because of COVID. We didn't stop playing because of social justice, and I feel like we can still raise that awareness. We can still bring attention to what's going on in the world by using our platform by utilizing the names on the back of the jerseys and doing it until people get pissed off and get tired of seeing it. That's the message in which I think we're trying to push because that's the only real change that we're gonna be able to generate," he said. 

"We have to utilize our platform as athletes to speak out for those who are unheard, to be vocal, to show face, to be involved. I think we're able to do both, but I get it from both sides of those who think it's a distraction. I don't think it is. But I can see how it's portrayed that way during this time."


Beal noted how his own financial situation and established platform put him in a different spot than other players who haven't achieved those things. He can forego the prorated salary if he doesn't play and still be well off. And as a two-time All-Star, he already has a name for himself and the ability to use that platform for change.

Other, less-accomplished players, however, can't yet say the same. 

"I get it from the standpoint from a guy who doesn't make a lot of money who may need this. I get it from the guys who want to utilize this money to give back to their communities [and help their families]. I [also] look at it from the standpoint of the guys who just want to focus on straight social justice," Beal said.


Beal also said he "fully" understands the decision made by Mystics guard Natasha Cloud to sit out. Cloud and Beal are friends and have worked together to write statements and organize events between their teams for social justice awareness. The Wizards and Mystics marched together on Juneteenth last month and before they started walking, Beal and Cloud addressed the crowd.

Cloud has opted out of the 2020 WNBA season due to focus on social justice reform.

"It's a tough time we're in," he said.

Beal indicated that whether he plays or not, he will be active in helping his fellow NBA players and the league continue to get the message out. He mentioned both Washington, D.C. and his hometown of St. Louis, MO, with plans to interact with local officials and lawmakers to express his beliefs on the matter.

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