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Stephen A. Smith says 'hell no' the Wizards shouldn't be included in the NBA restart

Stephen A. Smith says 'hell no' the Wizards shouldn't be included in the NBA restart

Well, well, well, Wizards fans, here we go again. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is back with his scorching hot Washington Wizards takes, and this time he's got something to say about the home team being included in the NBA's season restart in Orlando.

"Do the Washington Wizards deserve a spot in Orlando?" Molly Qerim, host of ESPN's First Take, asked. "Hell no," Smith said. 

"You're 16 games under .500, you're five games back (actually 5.5 games back of the 8th seed). As far as I'm concerned, I don't think them or the Phoenix Suns deserve to be in it."

RELATED: ONE THING TO WATCH IN EACH OF THE WIZARDS REMAINING GAMES

Smith's opinion, which he's entitled to, is a tad bit different from that of NBA analyst Caron Butler who joined the Wizards Talk podcast a couple of weeks back, and deemed the Wizards and Houston Rockets as "sleepers" in the NBA restart.

"It's wide open. I really do feel like it's wide open," Butler said. "I think that being part of a championship team, being part of winning teams, it's all about timing and continuity, momentum.

"That's taken completely out. Everybody is equal. It's an even playing field. So, it's a battle of wills."

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Smith did however give a nod to the play of Bradley Beal this season, but insisted that after Beal there's nobody else on the roster he actually cares about. 

"I don't mind seeing Bradley Beal because he's a stud," Smith said. "But outside of Beal, I ain't thinking about nobody on the Washington Wizards until John Wall gets healthy."

For Washington, this is nothing new -- being doubted nationally because of a lack of recent success. However, what holds true is that the Wizards have done enough to put themselves in a position to compete for something.

Games still have to be played, you never know what could happen. 

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Giannis Antetokounmpo says he has no problem with Moe Wagner after headbutt

Giannis Antetokounmpo says he has no problem with Moe Wagner after headbutt

Despite seeking him out after the whistle and headbutting him with force to earn an ejection from Tuesday night's game, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo says he has no problem with Wizards big man Moe Wagner. He explained the move as general frustration boiling over.

"I don’t have nothing against Wagner, it wasn’t just him. It was just, like, in my mind all these games I’ve played guys hitting me so I lost it for a second," Antetokounmpo told reporters. 

He went on to express regret over the incident, which is certain to result in a fine and possibly a suspension. His explanation, though, runs a bit counter to how the Wizards saw it all.

Wagner was not made available to the media, but his teammates weighed in and all seemed to believe it stemmed from something that happened between them earlier this season.

"They have something in the past, I don't even know," Rui Hachimura said.

"That was just some blood from back then," Ish Smith said. 

They seemed to be referencing the Feb. 24 meeting between the teams when Antetokounmpo fouled out in only 25 minutes, and with some help from Wagner. That night, Wagner gave a quote that could also have been said after this game: "He’s a really good player. I want him out of the game, obviously."

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On Tuesday, Antetokounmpo again exited early against the Wizards, and again the Bucks held on for the win, just like they did in February. Still, him leaving gave the Wizards a bit of a break. 

The reigning MVP had been dominating with 12 points and nine rebounds in 10 minutes.

"I'm not saying he's a dirty player, but he's good at those little things," Hachimura said of Wagner. "Giannis was actually out for the game. It was really big [for] us. He changed the whole game, actually. Moe's a great guy."

RELATED: GIANNIS EJECTED FOR HEADBUTTING MOE WAGNER

Wagner has a tendency to get under the skin of his opponents. He has had run-ins with other big men, most notably Joel Embiid.

He did his part, but the Bucks still had enough to beat the Wizards. Now the question is whether it was a pyrrhic victory with a potential suspension for Antetokounmpo coming next.

"There's no place for that. It's unfortunate," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's unfortunate that it happened. I'm sure the league is going to look at it and make a decision. Fortunately for [the Bucks], it's not a playoff game [up next]. I'm sure he's probably going to miss a couple of games."

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Troy Brown Jr. shows room for improvement in first start as point guard

Troy Brown Jr. shows room for improvement in first start as point guard

The Wizards' time in the Orlando bubble without Bradley Beal, John Wall and Davis Bertans has created some room for head coach Scott Brooks to try some things he would never otherwise be able to try, at least not in a game that counts. On Tuesday, he experimented with Troy Brown Jr. as his starting point guard for the first time.

Brown had played some point guard already in the seeding games, most notably against the Pacers when he closed out the fourth quarter running the show. After that game, Brooks indicated Brown would get a start at the position. Tuesday was the night.

It wasn't exactly a great showing. Brown struggled by shooting 3-for-15. He had nine points, six rebounds and three assists, a far cry from the 16.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists he averaged in the team's previous six games in Orlando.

Brown was off and it didn't help that as he began the game running the offense, the Wizards missed their first nine shots. 

"He got a learning experience. Sometimes it happens that way," Brooks said. "Didn't play well. We didn't have a good start. I'm not throwing it all on him, we just didn't have a good rhythm."

Brooks added that he won't judge Brown off of one game, but he also made it seem like there won't be a ton of opportunities for him to play point guard moving forward. They only have one more game before this season is over and next season five-time All-Star John Wall will return.

If Brown is auditioning for a larger share of the point guard duties, there are only so many that could go around long-term. Still, it didn't hurt to give him a look.

"This is time that we can experiment with that. Next year, he's probably not going to get those opportunities where he's going to be really the only playmaker on the floor," Brooks said.

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Tuesday was mostly just a reminder that Brown is young and still has a lot of work to do if he wants to play more point guard in his future. Brown was drafted in the first round of 2018 as a wing, but has said he feels most comfortable running point.

He has the ball-handling and passing skills to suggest he could someday do just that. But it takes time to find consistent success at the NBA level and point guard is a demanding position.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM WIZARDS VS. BUCKS

"Troy is special, man," point guard Ish Smith said. 'He can make plays. He's got a lot of tools. It's crazy, he's just 21. When I was 21, I was on a college campus running around trying to skip study hall. I don't know how some of these guys do it."

Brown, 21, has now had the bar set for himself. He has a better idea of how much more work is required to achieve his goal of playing point guard more often.

It will be something he can keep in mind this offseason as he works towards the 2020-21 campaign.

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