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The Wizards' dreadful defense is keeping them out of the playoff race

The Wizards' dreadful defense is keeping them out of the playoff race

For a while, after they traded for Trevor Ariza and responded impressively once John Wall got injured, the Wizards were a good defensive team. It lasted about a month. From Dec. 23 until Jan. 26, they had the third-best defensive rating in the NBA and gave up the 10th-fewest points.

That was really good, especially for a team that had previously been among the worst defensive teams not only in the NBA, but in franchise history.

But that honeymoon is officially over, because in the weeks since, the Wizards have devolved back into one of the truly worst defensive teams in basketball. In nine games since Jan. 26, only two teams have allowed more points (122.8) and only three have posted a worse defensive rating (119.2) than Washington.

During this stretch, they have allowed league-highs in three-pointers (14.3/g) and three-point percentage (42.3). Not surprisingly, the Wizards have lost six of their last nine games.

Monday was another defensive dud. They let a Pistons team score 15 points more than their season average. Detroit averages 9.1 threes per game. Against the Wizards they made 15.

Andre Drummond was dominant with 32 points, 17 rebounds, four steals and a block. Blake Griffin wasn’t far behind with 31 points, nine boards and nine assists.

The Wizards have been mostly bad on defense this season, with only four teams worse in defensive rating. But lately, they may have reached rock bottom, struggling to keep teams like the Pistons in check. On Saturday, though they won, the Wizards allowed 125 points to the Bulls, who rank 28th in the NBA with 102.8 opponent points per game.

It may be tough to improve on defense moving forward barring something unforeseen. The trades they made to bring in Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and Wesley Johnson did more for their depth and their ability to score.

Otto Porter Jr. wasn’t a lockdown defender, but he played with discipline and the advanced numbers always suggested he was among the best on the Wizards. Parker has never been confused for a good defensive player and over the summer caused a stir by saying “they don’t pay players to play defense.”

Portis isn’t much of a rim protector, but should help the cause with his rebounding. Johnson commits on the defensive end, but isn’t going to change games in that area of the game, either.

All three can score. But throw them in the mix with the rest of the Wizards roster and there are going to be some tough times defensively.

On Monday, their inability to slow Drummond, Griffin and the otherwise offensively challenged Pistons proved costly. Detroit took the head-to-head season series, meaning they own the tiebreaker for playoff scenarios. They also pushed the Wizards from two to now three games back from the No. 8 spot.

Defense has been an issue for the Wizards for most of this season and it may be their single biggest obstacle as they maintain hopes of making the playoffs.

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Isaiah Thomas wants to make it clear that Marcus Smart flops

Isaiah Thomas wants to make it clear that Marcus Smart flops

When you know, you know.

Washington Wizards starting point guard Isaiah Thomas gave his take on former teammate Marcus Smart's reputation for flopping. Spoilers: he flops.

Thomas, who is returning to Boston on Wednesday for the first time as a starter, was teammates with Smart during his run with the Celtics from 2014-17. He didn't hold back from interrupting reporters to make sure everyone knows that Smart flops. (See the entire sequence play out in the video above.)

Despite being familiar with Smart, don't expect Thomas to know everything about how the Celtics will prepare for the Wizards. Thomas pointed out that only two of his former teammates are still with the team.

His history with Boston means a lot to Thomas, but his only focus on Wednesday will be earning the victory.

"The love is genuine between me and the city," Thomas said. "Hopefully we can just win the game. That's the most important." 

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Wizards @ Celtics Game 9: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Wizards @ Celtics Game 9: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Beating the Boston Celtics is always special, but this one likely means a little more for Washington Wizards point guard Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas will be returning to Boston for the first time as a starter, where he became a scoring sensation and MVP candidate during the 2016-17 season.

The Wizards will be looking for a win against the Celtics, as the team has played to the tune of a 2-6 record so far in the young NBA season. Boston, on the other hand, has won seven straight after dropping their season opener.

WIZARDS @ CELTICS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics, Game 9

Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards at Celtics will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Celtics on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS @ CELTICS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

7:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

7:30: Wizards @ Celtics (LIVE)

10:00 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

10:30 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

11:00 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS @ CELTICS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), Jordan McRae (OUT, Finger)

Celtics: Gordon Hayward (OUT, Fractured hand)

WIZARDS @ CELTICS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, G, Wizards (26.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.5 apg): Across 35.8 minutes per game, Beal is scoring 26.1 points per game, a career-high. Watch out for some buckets from Beal.

Isaiah Thomas, G, Wizards (13.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 6.2 apg): Thomas made his first start for the Wizards a week ago, and now he is set to return to Boston for the first time as a starter. Look out for a potential vintage performance.

Kemba Walker, G, Celtics (24.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.5 apg): The newest Celtic is leading the way in scoring for Boston and has been the Celtics' most efficient starter. Watch out for Walker in this one.

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