Quick Links

Wizards-Magic offers big playoff stakes, two contrasting styles

NBC Sports Washington

Wizards-Magic offers big playoff stakes, two contrasting styles

Fifteen games remain on the Wizards' schedule, but only three of them are against teams they are directly battling in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Wednesday will be the first of those three games, as they host the Orlando Magic for a 7 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington.

The Wizards are 11th in the East and 3 1/2 games out of the eighth spot. The Magic are ninth, just one game behind the Miami Heat, the team everyone is chasing.

If the Wizards can take out the Magic, they will help themselves in two ways. For one, they will gain a full game on Orlando. Second, they will win the season series between the teams, 2-1, and hold the tiebreaker in the event they finish with the same regular season record.

Though these teams are each gunning for the same goal, they are going about it in very different ways.

The Wizards and Magic will be a match-up of contrasting styles. Orlando is all about their defense. They rank fifth in the NBA in points allowed (106.8) and eighth in defensive rating (108.3). On offense they are dreadful, ranking 26th in scoring (105.8 ppg) and 25th in offensive rating (107.3).

The Wizards have been the opposite, and even more so after trading for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. Since they were added to the lineup on Feb. 8, the Wizards are tied for first in points (119.8 ppg) and place fifth in offensive rating (113.3), but rank 27th in points allowed (119.4) and 24th in defensive rating (113).

The biggest difference in approach may be in the speed these teams play and something will have to budge. The Magic like to grind it out in slower games. The Wizards like to push the ball in a run-and-gun offense.

The NBA measures pace by possessions per 48 minutes and the Magic are 26th in the category (98.1). The Wizards since adding Parker and Portis are third in pace at 104.85. That number would lead the NBA if held for the full season.

One team likes low-scoring, defensive battles. The other prefers to fly up and down the court in shootouts.

If the Wizards can force the Magic to play their game, it could work in their favor. Though, Orlando of course will try to do the same.


Quick Links

Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

USA TODAY Sports Images

Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 


Quick Links

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

WASHINGTON -- It is not often you see a rookie find initial success in the NBA to the degree Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has, already with borderline All-Star numbers at the age of 20. And oftentimes, opponents are careful throwing out player comparisons for guys his age, wanting to see more before they anoint anyone.

Morant, though, is a different case and questions from media members at Wizards practice this week as the team gets set to face him for the first time naturally led to parallels to great players. On Thursday, Brooks brought up unprompted how much Morant reminds him of Russell Westbrook, his former player in Oklahoma City.

And on Friday, Bradley Beal invoked a teammate of his when breaking down what makes Morant so good.

"He loves to get up and down. He's really fast with the ball. It reminds you of John [Wall] in a lot of ways. He plays with his pace," Beal said.

Through 19 games this season, Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 42.2 percent from three on 2.2 attempts.

The threes have been surprising to most, as he shot a relatively modest 36.3 percent his final year in college at Murray State. But also surprising maybe just how lethal he has been at attacking the rim.

Sure, that was a big part of his game in college. But this is the NBA where athletes are much bigger and stronger. And he isn't the biggest guy either, weighing in at 175 pounds according to Basketball-Reference.

But despite lacking in size, he has shown an ability to finish through contact rarely seen from any player.

"I think he has a no-fear type of mentality. So, you have to respect his aggressiveness," Beal said. "He'll get respect from a lot of players in the league, a lot of refs in the league because of his aggressiveness and... with all the posters he has. So, he's an assassin. You gotta respect his game."

Beal likely won't draw the defensive assignment on Morant. That will probably go to Ish Smith and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza, who is with the team while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a left calf injury.

Beal knows it is going to be tough for the whole Wizards team to contain Morant. He said the trick will be trying to stay in front of him, though he knows that is easier said than done.

Really, Morant is such a unique player that the Wizards can only gameplan and prepare so much until they actually experience facing him for the first time.

"He's gonna be a handful," Beal said.