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How revamped Washington Wizards can improve playoff hopes greatly with win over Detroit Pistons

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How revamped Washington Wizards can improve playoff hopes greatly with win over Detroit Pistons

After losing five of six and making a series of trades to reshape their roster, the Washington Wizards have responded by winning two straight. Those games were against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, two of the worst the NBA hast to offer. On Monday, they will see a Detroit Pistons team that is not only better, but also currently has what the Wizards are chasing.

The Wizards take on the Pistons in Detroit with a 7 p.m. ET tip-off on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

The Pistons sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, after winning three straight games and passing the Miami Heat, who have lost two in a row, including a close one to the Warriors on Sunday. Though the Wizards are 11th in the conference, they are only two games back from a playoff spot. A victory on Monday would tie them in the win column with the three teams ahead of them.

Monday could tell us plenty about the newly shaped Wizards with Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson in the fold. All three impressed against Cleveland and Chicago.

Whether they have enough to still compete against playoff-caliber teams, however, has yet to be proven. As much as their trade of Otto Porter Jr. can be justified, he was their second scoring option and a guy who did a lot of different things to help them win.

The stakes for Monday’s game go beyond both team’s overall records. This game will decide the head-to-head season matchup between them. They are tied at 1-1, having each won at home. The Wizards beat the Pistons by 14 points on Jan. 21.

Whoever takes Monday’s game will own the tiebreaker for playoff seeding. Having the tiebreaker over a team like Detroit could end up deciding whether the Wizards make the playoffs or not this season.

The Pistons also made some moves last week with a playoff push in mind. They traded former seventh overall pick Stanley Johnson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Thon Maker. And they signed Wayne Ellington in free agency once he was let go by the Phoenix Suns.

Maker is more of a long-term project and may not help them right away, but Ellington could make a difference immediately. He is expected to debut against the Wizards.

Ellington, 31, has long been a dangerous 3-point shooter with a career percentage of 38.0. This year, he is averaging 8.4 points while shooting 36.8 percent on 6.2 attempts per game from long range.

Offense has been the Pistons’ biggest problem this season, as they rank 23rd among NBA teams both in points and efficiency. Their defense, meanwhile, has been solid, placing ninth in points allowed and defensive rating. Ellington could give them a boost on the end of the floor where they need some help.

The Pistons’ defense will also provide a good test for the Wizards’ revamped scoring attack. With Parker and Portis making key contributions, Washington has averaged 126.5 points in their two games since the trade. The moves they made should help their offense more than anything.

The Wizards have a long road ahead to sort out their rotation and discover exactly what their chances of making the playoffs truly are. But a win on Monday would go a long way towards making those goals appear more realistic.

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Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

The Washington Wizards have reportedly offered their vacant general manager position to Tim Connelly. The news was first reported by the Athletic.

Here are five things to know about him...

1. Connelly is a Baltimore native who transferred to Catholic University in D.C. during his junior year in college, graduating from there in 1999. 

2. Connelly began his NBA front office career with the Wizards, starting as an intern in 1996. He spent a decade with the organization, holding such roles as assistant video coordinator, head scout, and director of player personnel. 

3. After leaving the Wizards, Connelly spent three seasons serving as the assistant general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans. 

4. Connelly joined the Nuggets organization in 2013 as the executive vice president of basketball operations. He was promoted to President of Basketball Operations in 2017. Connelly has been part of a Denver front office that has drafted the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris over the last five years. 

5. Connelly has six siblings, including four brothers: Joe, Pat, Dan and Kevin. All four of them have also worked in basketball in some capacity, Joe, Pat, and Dan all following Tim into the NBA ranks. 

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    Wizards offer top front office job to Nuggets' Tim Connelly, per reports

    Wizards offer top front office job to Nuggets' Tim Connelly, per reports

    The Wizards may have found the successor to longtime team president Ernie Grunfeld. Per multiple reports, Washington offered the vacant head front-office job to Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

    Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reports that, while Connelly hoped for a five-year deal, he is serious about the Wizards' four-year offer. 

    The Nuggets president came to Washington to meet with owner Ted Leonsis on Friday

    A Baltimore native, Connelly worked as a member of the Wizards front office, beginning as an intern in 1996 and rising to director of player personnel in his time with the franchise.

    After a stop in New Orleans, Connelly was hired as executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Nuggets in 2013. He ascended to president of basketball operations in his six-year tenure. 

    His notable accomplishments in Denver include drafting star big man Nikola Jokic and building a team that won 54 games in the 2018-19 season. 

    This is a developing story. Please check back with NBCSportsWashington.com for updates as available. 

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