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Markieff Morris never believed the Celtics were better than the Wizards

Markieff Morris never believed the Celtics were better than the Wizards

The Wizards were going to turn over a new leaf, talk less and let their play speak for itself.

And they almost made it through media day sticking by that pledge ... almost. 

The topic that got them off track? Surprise! The Celtics.

Okay, maybe not such a surprise after all. 

Speaking at the podium, Markieff Morris was asked about the Eastern Conference landscape now that LeBron James had vacated his throne. 

"I think we're the number one team. Raptors are going through a little bit when they changed DeMar DeRozan. So other than that, Boston has never been better than us. The record shows it, but internally we don't think they were better than us last year."

It may not be a coincidence that Morris made his comments around the same time NBA Twitter lost its collective mind about a picture of the Celtics' starting five — Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford — and how good they'd be. 

The Wizards may not have believed the Celtics were better than they were last year, but Morris does have a point about the record.

 Boston finished the regular season 55-27 and lost to the James-led Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row. 

Washington, meanwhile, finished the year 43-39 and lost to the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs. 

Both the Wizards and Celtics are healthier this year and have shiny new pieces to play with, most notably Dwight Howard in Washington and Hayward in Boston. Those guys could add new life to whatever rivalry is left over from the infamous Funeral Game of 2017. 

Even if it seems like the perfect matchup for opening night, the two teams won't play each other until Dec. 12 in Washington. 

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DeMatha alum and Pacers star Victor Oladipo stretchered off with scary leg injury

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USA Today Sports

DeMatha alum and Pacers star Victor Oladipo stretchered off with scary leg injury

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers lost All-Star guard Victor Oladipo with an apparent right leg injury in the second quarter of Wednesday night's game against Toronto.

Trainers quickly put a towel over the leg and players from both teams surrounded Oladipo as he lay on the floor. Fans gave him a standing ovation as he was carted off the floor on a stretcher.

The injury occurred when Oladipo fell awkwardly while trying to defend an outlet pass to Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, who landed on top of Oladipo with 4:05 to go.

Oladipo made his first All-Star Game last season after being acquired in the trade for Paul George. He is the Pacers' top scorer this season at 19.2 points per game.

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Bradley Beal doesn't care if he's named a 2019 NBA All-Star starter

Bradley Beal doesn't care if he's named a 2019 NBA All-Star starter

The 2019 NBA All-Star starters are set to be announced on Thursday and Wizards guard Bradley Beal is not optimistic he will be chosen. That is despite a growing number of supporters in the media, but Beal understands their votes only count for 25 percent of the equation.

Fan voting makes up 50 percent and NBA players the remaining 25 percent. With Beal in a distant 10th among Eastern Conference guards in the fan voting rounds that have been made public, he has set his expectations accordingly.

"I'm not going to be a starter so it doesn't matter," he quipped after Wizards practice on Wednesday. "I'm positive. Let's just be honest. Right? We all can be honest, right?"

Beal, who made his first All-Star team last season as a reserve, will almost certainly be an All-Star again this year one way or another. Coaches vote on reserves and those will be announced on Jan. 31.

But Beal has a solid case to be a starter despite his Wizards sitting at just 20-26 and outside of the playoff picture. He is posting career-highs in points (24.7), rebounds (5.0), assists (5.0), steals (1.3) and blocks (0.9). He has appeared in all 46 of the Wizards games this season while many of his teammates have been absent due to injury.

Boston's Kyrie Irving appears to be a lock for one of the two starting guard spots in the East. He has a strong case with his numbers, his team's success and has fared well in fan voting. But the second spot has no clear favorite.

Ben Simmons has played well for a good Sixers team. Victor Oladipo of the Pacers also has a case, though due to injuries his numbers have fallen off.

Kyle Lowry has helped the Raptors post one of the league's best records. Kemba Walker of the Hornets has had the best season of his career and plays for the hometown team with the game taking place in Charlotte.

There is also Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, a future Hall of Famer who might be a starter if it were based solely on fan voting. If he gets support from players or media votes, he could get in as a legacy pick given this is the final season of his legendary career.

Basically, Beal has a lot of competition. He gets it and insists he isn't losing sleep over the pending announcement.

"Even then I don't let it consume me. It's not like a goal of mine like 'oh, I've gotta be an All-Star.' If I am, it's great. It's even more motivation to continue to get better. Even if I'm not an All-Star, I'm not going to be mad or upset," he said.

Beal said his No. 1 goal is winning and mentioned how the Wizards remain six games under .500 despite reeling off seven of their last 10. Washington happens to be hosting the defending-champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, so he has plenty on his plate.

Beal will likely be an All-Star representing the Wizards in the Feb. 17 showcase. But it doesn't sound like he will be doing any of the other festivities.

Beal has participated in the three-point contest twice in his career and both times was a runner-up. He has not been invited yet to this year's contest and probably won't participate even if he is asked.

"I would probably take a break this year because it was definitely a lot last year, just all the off-court stuff," he said. "I'm not saying I won't do it for the rest of my career, but I don't think I'm doing it this year."

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