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Wizards-Magic offers big playoff stakes, two contrasting styles

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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.

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Jeff Green 'would love to come back' to Wizards, add stability to journeyman career

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USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Green 'would love to come back' to Wizards, add stability to journeyman career

With six different teams in the past five years, Jeff Green has become one of the NBA's most itinerant journeymen.

Including his early-career move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, when the franchise transitioned from the Sonics to the Thunder, Green has played in eight different cities. Among active players, only Ish Smith (10), Marco Bellinelli (nine), Shaun Livingston (nine) and Anthony Tolliver (nine) have played for more teams.

Being in Washington this past season, though, was different. That's because Green is from the area, having grown up nearby in Maryland. He starred at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, then at Georgetown University in Northwest D.C.

At 32 years old (he turns 33 in August), Green does not prefer being a basketball nomad. He would like to stay with the Wizards this summer as he aims for a new contract in free agency.

"I would love to come back," Green said. "Great set of guys on this team. I loved playing with Brad [Beal], John [Wall]."

Green also mentioned playing for head coach Scott Brooks, for whom he played in Seattle and Oklahoma City. Brooks was an assistant on the Sonics staff when Green was a rookie, then took over as head coach in the middle of Green's sophomore season. Green left the Thunder after his third season and, 10 years later, was reunited with Brooks in Washington.

The biggest draw for Green to the Wizards, though, is the fact it is his hometown team. Though playing at home is a drawback for some players, Green found major benefits in being around family and in the town where he played college ball.

"Being in front of family every night was great for me. It allowed me to see my daughters more than a couple of times a year, which was great," he said. 

"Being in a familiar setting from my Georgetown days was great. Being able to go up to Georgetown and watch the guys get better, it was great. [Those are] things I haven’t been able to do since being in the league."

On the court, Green found individual success with the Wizards amid a disappointing season overall. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.0 rebounds while setting a career-high in effective field goal percentage (55.5). 

He did all of that while making the league minimum of $2.4 million. On a Wizards team that was in some ways defined by bloated salaries, Green proved a bargain. 

Hoping to come back to the Wizards was a familiar refrain from impending free agents during the Wizards' media exit interviews. Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, Thomas Bryant and others all suggested they would like to return. 

But with a new front office leadership structure set to be installed, certainty isn't offered for anyone. For Green, the Wizards' new general manager will need to evaluate whether he was part of their problems. 

While Green probably exceeded expectations this season, he was on the floor when the team struggled to rebound the ball and defend just like his teammates were. The Wizards were 27th in the NBA in defensive rating this season at 112.8, according to NBA.com. Green's defensive rating was 112.6.

The Wizards and Green may ultimately not prove a fit in the eyes of the new GM. If that is the case, Green could move on to play in a new city, the ninth of his career. 

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

The 76ers-Nets playoff series has been wild from the start, but the trash talk and physical play reached the next level in the Sixers' Game 4 victory Sunday. 

The contest featured two ejections as well as a game-deciding shot with 19.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter. In the middle of it all? None other than Jared Dudley and Mike Scott, who played for the Wizards in 2015-16 and 2017-18, respectively. 

Tensions between Dudley and the Sixers had been simmering since he slammed Ben Simmons in the media after Game 1.

With 7:42 left in the third quarter Saturday, Joel Embiid committed a flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen under the basket. An incensed Dudley shoved Embiid, prompting Jimmy Butler to push Dudley away.

When Simmons to try to separate the two, he and Dudley got tangled up and tumbled into the front-row seats. Both Dudley and Butler were ejected on the spot. 

The Nets held a 67-61 advantage when Dudley and Butler were tossed, but that lead dwindled to one point with under a minute left to go. 

Brooklyn made the mistake of leaving Scott open in the corner, where Embiid set him up for a go-ahead three-pointer with 19.7 seconds remaining.

A pair of Tobias Harris free throws sealed the Sixers' 112-108 win, putting them up 3-1 in the series. Scott and company can finish off Dudley's squad in Game 5 on Tuesday. 

In the meantime, listen as Scott goes 1-on-1 with Chris Miller in the latest Wizards Talk Podcast. 

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