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Wizards put themselves, credibility on line with all-black ploy vs. Celtics

Wizards put themselves, credibility on line with all-black ploy vs. Celtics

For the Wizards to wear all-black as a statement for tonight’s game (6:30 p.m. on CSN) with the Boston Celtics seems like quite a reach. This is just Game No. 45, but Bradley Beal insisted that they do it.

A 13-game home winning streak is on the line and so is the advantage in the season series which is tied 1-1.

These teams just can’t stand each other. The Jan. 11 game ended with an altercation between Jae Crowder and John Wall and the league fined them both.

Crowder instigated by getting in Wall’s face after the final buzzer and poked him in the nose. Wall countered with a quick left-hand slap to his jaw. The NBA fined Crowder more for what happened, an indication that he deserved the larger share of the blame.

There are a lot of key moments and subplots between these teams, too: Wall and Isaiah Thomas are fighting for reserve spots on the East All-Star team; Beal received a technical foul in the last game for getting tangled with Marcus Smart, who broke his nose and gave him a concussion with a blow to the face last season; Wall was ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul after blowing out the Celtics in the first meeting; Crowder bad-mouthed the Wizards in the offseason and got in an argument with the bench that drew a technical a year ago, too; Wall had an emotional win over the Celtics that he dedicated to a young cancer patient he befriended; and Crowder hit the game-winning layup on Washington off an inbounds play.

Wall has felt disrespected at every turn, from the Wizards not getting much national attention, finishing sixth in All-Star voting despite being the only one in the East averaging a double-double, not getting a single vote from 29 other GMs in a preseason survey of the NBA’s best passers and the list goes on

This decision to treat a regular-season game like Game 7 of the playoffs has brought the attention that they've all craved, but now they’re under pressure to produce. 

That type of confidence has been absent since Paul Pierce’s one season in Washington, when he called the Toronto Raptors soft – a team they couldn’t figure out in the regular season -- before a playoff series as the Wizards proceeded to beat them into submission via sweep.

[RELATED: Celtics not impressed with Wizards wearing all black: 'That's cute']

Following that up with a 41-41 season when players admittedly checked out on then-coach Randy Wittman long before it ended contributed to the lack of belief in who they were at that time.

Starting this season 2-8 added onto what could’ve been a dumpster fire under new coach Scott Brooks. But this gesture suggests the Wizards are being incredibly naïve or will fully turn the corner before the All-Star break.

To think that for the home opener vs. Toronto, after losing winnable games at the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies on the road, it was considered an overstatement by Marcin Gortat to call that a must-win game.

The frequent complaint about today’s game is that good old-fashioned rivalries and animosity are gone. That players are too friendly with one another.

But Brooks has emphasized all season that he’d prefer his players treat every game equally. He doesn’t want them to play harder against the Celtics, for instance, than they do the Philadelphia 76ers. In theory, that’s how it should be but human nature tends to win out.

Wall wears his emotions on his sleeve which is why he has nine technical fouls which is fourth-most in the league. Beal is trying to prove he’s worth the $128 million he was paid in the offseason and make his case for being an All-Star, too, with DeMar DeRozan of Toronto being the only shooting guard reasonably ahead of him.

Beal emerged from his 1-for-21 three-point shooting funk in Charlotte last night to go 4-for-9. He was the hot hand in the 117-108 loss to Boston when he had 16 points in the first quarter. 

Only 23 total fouls were called then (10 on Boston), Brooks was openly irritated by the officiating and for the first time this season cracked about the inconsistency in how some games are called. By comparison, the Wizards were called for 23 fouls alone in beating the Hornets on Monday. 

Both teams did their share of trash-talking in game that went unpunished which likely contributed to the postgame heat that required police presence between the locker rooms at TD Garden.

It'll be safe to assume that there will be significantly more whistles tonight, and one of the three officials will be Marc Davis. It was Davis who ejected Wall at the end of the Wizards' early-season loss to the Houston Rockets after bumping him during a timeout.

Playing with emotion can be a double-edged sword. A convincing victory will make more people want to watch the Wizards on a wider scale. An epic fail will result in a "nothing-to-see-here" response. The latter, by far, is the worst-case scenario.

If the Wizards want to put themselves on the line like this to prove a point this early in the season, let them. If it's a rivalry and it's real at least to them, then it's real. 

Make no mistake, wearing all black indicates a funeral. The Dallas Mavericks wore it before Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals and put the Miami Heat out of their misery. The N.Y. Knicks did it in 2013 vs. the Celtics for Game 5 and lost though they did get the job done in Game 6. 

The Mavericks kept their gesture private until the series was over. The Knicks didn't. That's why the Wizards are going out on a limb by putting the pressure on themselves to win.  It's just one game. Then again, with this context, not really. 

[RELATED: Have the Celtics become the Wizards biggest rival in the East?]

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Report: NBA general managers are in favor of 20 or more playoff teams

Report: NBA general managers are in favor of 20 or more playoff teams

While general managers are split on how the NBA should proceed with the 2020 season, there is one factor that most teams agree on: expanding the playoff field. 

In a survey sent to NBA GMs this week, 83% (25 of 30) of them voted in favor of a "Playoffs Plus" format that would have 20 or more teams in the playoffs, according to Shams Charania. However, the 30 GMs were split on whether to maintain the traditional playoff seeding (53%) or to reseed the field (47%), presumably from 1-20 based on the overall league standings

The traditional NBA's playoff format has 16 team bracket with eight teams from each conference. A format that has been in place since 1984. Adding four teams, whether the four best teams outside the playoffs or two from either conference would make the largest playoff field ever.

Expanding the playoff field would be similar to the NHL's return to play plan which had the top 12 teams in both conferences advancing straight to the playoffs. The NBA is considering a play-in format to include New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento - all Western Conference teams - according to ESPN.

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Other details seem to have less of a consensus from the decision-makers of each franchise. Here are some of the results according to Charania:

  • 53% (16) GMs want to advance directly to the NBA playoffs, 27% (8) would like an abbreviated season with a play-in
  • 60% (18) were in favor of a 72-game season. All teams had completed 63-67 games before the stoppage.
  • Non-playoff teams were split on resuming the season
  • Most GMs wanted the season to conclude by Oct. 1
  • They wanted a larger roster or more flexibility when play resumes

None of the results of the survey are set in stone. Merely they were used to gauge opinions from each team. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will talk with the league’s board of governors to discuss formats and a potential timeline on Friday. 

The Wizards are currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games out of the standard final playoff spot. In terms of the league standings, they have the 22nd-best record in the NBA.

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Wizards' Beal reacts to arrest of CNN reporter covering unrest in Minneapolis

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Wizards' Beal reacts to arrest of CNN reporter covering unrest in Minneapolis

Bradley Beal took to Twitter on Friday to express concern over the arrest of CNN's Omar Jimenez while covering the unrest in Minneapolis on Thursday night. 

"We arresting reporters and not the cop? Okay," Beal wrote.

Jimenez and his crew were detained while covering the response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after a police officer kept his knee on his neck for several minutes. His death has sparked massive unrest in Minneapolis. Beal is one of many athletes to speak out about the death - on a conference call earlier this week, Ravens' Ronnie Stanley told reporters of Floyd's death: 

“It’s something that obviously it’s pretty easy to see what’s happening. Hopefully justice prevails in this case. It’s really sad to see. I really feel bad for him, his family and his loved ones. I’m keeping them in my prayers.”

A number of other NBA players have also spoken out. LeBron James posted a photo of himself wearing an "I Can't Breathe" shirt, which he and a number of other players wore in response to Eric Garner's death in New York in 2014. "Still," he wrote in the Instagram caption.

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STILL!!!! 🤬😢😤

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Earlier this week, Beal also tweeted this about Floyd's death:

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