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Game 1 begs question of who Scott Brooks will trust in his playoff rotation

Game 1 begs question of who Scott Brooks will trust in his playoff rotation

NBA Playoff series can take on different forms during their span of upwards of two weeks. Only so much can be gleaned from one game and especially a Game 1. Much can and will probably change over the course of what will be somewhere in the range of three to six more games between the Wizards and Raptors.

Clearly, though, the way head coach Scott Brooks plans to handle his playoff rotation is much different than what we saw in the regular season. Despite having a better bench on paper than they did one year ago, that does not mean Brooks will use the full group of players he has available.

In their Game 1 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, Brooks went away from several guys we are accustomed to seeing play large roles. Ian Mahinmi played only two minutes, Tomas Satoransky played 11 and Kelly Oubre, Jr. played 16.

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Mahinmi is the team's primary backup big man and is making $16.6 million this season. He averaged 14.9 minutes per game during the regular season and 13.9 in four meetings with the Raptors. 

Satoransky is the team's best backup guard. He not only backs up John Wall at point guard, but is their best option at shooting guard behind Bradley Beal as well. He averaged 22.5 minutes in the regular season, though that is skewed by 30 starts due to Wall's injury.

Oubre's 11 minutes were 11.5 below his season average. He was the Wizards' sixth man all year, logging more minutes on average than starters Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat.

Brooks went away from Mahinmi, Oubre and Satoransky to different degrees. The one bench player he trusted most was Mike Scott, who provided a spark with 14 points in 26 minutes. Brooks relied heavily on his starters and particularly Beal and Wall who played 41 and 39 minutes, respectively.

RELATED: DON'T BLAME THE GAME 1 LOSS ON THE REFS

There are reasons to argue that each player's minutes going down was surprising. Oubre perhaps less than the others given his recent shooting struggles and how Brooks has described his defense in recent weeks, but the fact Otto Porter was playing through a right lower leg strain would seemingly help his cause. Those minutes went to Scott instead, which is understandable.

Mahinmi only playing two minutes was much harder to predict. He scored two points, picked up two quick fouls before the midway point of the first quarter and was gone, never to be seen again. Brooks didn't call his name even when Raptors' big man Serge Ibaka was going off for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Ibaka was arguably the player of the game, but clearly Brooks did not see Mahinmi as the solution.

Satoransky figured to play a significant role in these playoffs as the third guard. We knew that as the final stretch of the regular season played out. Once Jodie Meeks got suspended the day before the playoffs began for 25 games, it seemed to even further cement Satoransky as an important cog in the playoff rotation.

There seemed to be no one else they would turn to when giving Wall and or Beal a rest. Tim Frazier played three minutes at point guard, but that theory was largely proven true yet Satoransky's role was effectively shrunk.

RELATED: WALL AND DRAKE TALKED TRASH FACE-TO-FACE

It wouldn't be a dramatic change in Game 2 to have Satoransky play more minutes, perhaps as Brook seeks to solve the Wizards' issues both shooting threes and defending them. Satoransky is good at both. He shot a team-best 46.5 percent from long range during the regular season and has proven solid at defending perimeter shooters.

Oubre's role will fluctuate based on how he starts games and Porter's injury. The biggest headscratcher involves Mahinmi.

There were times this season when Brooks went away from Mahinmi entirely despite him being healthy and available, like on March 10 when he received a DNP-CD against the Heat based purely on matchups. The same happened on April 1 against the Bulls.

RELATED: FULL 1ST ROUND NBA PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

There were six games this season where Mahinmi logged less than six minutes, similar to Saturday against the Raptors. Does Brooks not think Mahinmi is a good fit against the Raptors?

Time will tell throughout this series, but so far Brooks has tightened his rotation for the playoffs beyond the point many may have expected.

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Clippers, as Wizards aim to get back on track

Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Clippers, as Wizards aim to get back on track

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards battle Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Marcin Gortat and the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Looking for something

The Wizards enter Tuesday night’s game while dealing with an array of issues both on and off the court. They have lost two straight games and sit 5-11 on the season. Meanwhile, rumors of trade talks and dysfunction have them in national headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The Wizards will now have to compartmentalize all of it and play a basketball game. Awaiting them is a tough and determined Clippers team.

L.A. beat them just three weeks ago on Oct. 28 and have an impressive 10-5 record. That’s tied for third-best in the Western Conference.

Can Wall or Beal get going?

The Wizards’ two best players are scuffling right now. In their last three games, two of them losses, John Wall and Bradley Beal have not been themselves.

Beal is averaging just 17.3 points while shooting 39.6 percent from the field. Wall is putting up just 16.0 points and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from the field.

If the Wizards are to get out of the hole they are in, a big game from either Wall or Beal would certainly help.

Gortat returns

The irony of the current mess is that Marcin Gortat will be making his D.C. return in this game. He started five years for the Wizards and was entangled in some of their controversies over the years. Now he comes back with his new team in a much different position than his old one.

Surely, Gortat will address the media about his return. Will he take the high road or throw salt in the wounds? And how will fans receive the former Wizard? He had a complicated legacy in Washington. 

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Frustration reportedly boils over in recent incidents at Wizards practice

Frustration reportedly boils over in recent incidents at Wizards practice

Following a report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday morning about the possibility that every member of the Wizards' roster, including stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, could be available in a potential trade with the right suitor, more followed Monday -- this time about frustration boiling over in practice.

Prior to the publication of Monday afternoon's reports, Bradley Beal addressed the day's earlier reports when speaking with the media.

“I mean, I’m not going to be naïve to it, you know,” Beal said. “I have a phone just like everybody else does. There were rumors weeks ago. Then, I didn’t buy into them. Now, I’m still not going to buy into them because if that’s my main priority and focus then I’m going to be messed up on the floor.”

As reports continued to swirl Monday, forward Kelly Oubre appeared to allude to the situation on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the Wizards declined to comment on the reports.

The Wizards return to the court to face the Clippers on Tuesday at Capital One Arena.

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