Wizards at Sixers Final: Wizards’ Hack-A-Simmons strategy erases deficit, but Wiz fall to Sixers, 118-113.

The Wizards were this close to completing one of the most bizarre comebacks.

With over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Wizards went to the hack-a-Simmons strategy on 12 straight possessions. Washington, once down 24 was able to the trim the lead to three, 100-97 as Simmons missed many of those free throws. And every time it looked like the Sixers had a comfortable lead, the Wizards managed to stay within striking distance.

The strategy worked as it gave Washington a fighting chance, but the comeback would fall short as they’d lose, 118-113.

TAKEAWAYS

No Wall, no Beal, no chance.

Midway through the first quarter, Jerryd Bayless went up for a layup swinging his off arm, knocking Bradley Beal in the face. Beal exited the game and was out for the rest of the first half (he did return in the second half) but that killed any chance the Wizards had of winning this game.

Washington, who only mustered up 91 points just one night prior had tons of issues scoring once Beal went down. Chalk it up to tired legs and the rest of the starters having another off night, the Wizards officially had no offense with their best scorer down.

The Wizards looked to push the pace and tried to get some easy baskets in transition but that didn’t do the trick. The lid was on the cup early in this game as once again, the team started 4-16 from the field.

Beal came back to play in the second half and ended the night with 21 points, but it was too little too late.

Wizards get crushed on the glass

Yes, Philadelphia is the best rebounding team in the NBA, however, the Wizards showed no life on the glass this evening. Washington was crushed on both ends as they were outrebounded 35-14 in the first half and 64-35 for the game. No starter grabbed more than four rebounds tonight and it was Tomas Satoransky who led the team with eight boards.

Philly crashed the glass, to the tune of 21 offensive rebounds that often ended up in easy put backs right at the rim.

It’s already tough to keep Philly of the glass, and the Wizards did themselves no favors tonight.

Washington can’t keep Philly out of the paint

This and rebounding often go hand in hand. When you give up 16 offensive rebounds, you often tend to give up many easy baskets in the lane. Joel Embiid and Dario Saric did most of their damage in the midrange but it was Ben Simmons who had no problems getting to the rim tonight.

Morris started off the game guarding Simmons and was no match for the rookie. Morris often went under screens in hopes of forcing Simmons to shoot but Simmons was still able to navigate his way to the hole.

After a nice game from Ian Mahinmi last night, he wasn’t able to provide any rim protection either. The Sixers scored 54 points in the paint tonight and already notched 32 by halftime. You’re not going to win many games when your opponent puts up that kind of numbers.

GAME NOTES

  • For the second straight night, Tomas Satoransky outplayed Tim Frazier. It’ll be interesting to see if Satoransky gets more and more of Frazier’s minutes as the season rolls along.
  • Jodie Meeks scored a season-high 21 points but it was too little too late as most of those came with the game already out of hand.
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76ers at Wizards Final: Washington hangs on to beat ‘The Process’ in the opener, 120-115.

This one didn’t feel like the season opener. Nope, this one had the feeling of a first-round playoff matchup.

John Wall led the Wizards with 28 points and Bradley Beal scored 25 as the Wizards hang on to beat the 76ers, 120-115. Marcin Gortat played one of his best games in years with 16 points and 17 rebounds while the reserves combined for 41 points led by Kelly Oubre and Jodie Meeks with 14 a piece.

I thought the young 76ers might come out and cough the ball up until the early game jitters wore off but that wasn’t the case. Ben Simmons, who looked like he might be rookie of the year and Joel Embiid took it right to Washington early. But John Wall and co. weren’t having it. Although his shot wasn’t falling, Wall got his teammates involved as he had four assists in the opening quarter and imposed his will to score evidenced with this backdown dunk.

Washington led 32-23 after one.

The reserves, a huge question mark coming into this season showed signs of improvement. They did not play well in the early moments of the second quarter on defense but held their own on the offensive end. Kelly Oubre knocked down three of his first four three-pointers while Jodie Meeks also provided a scoring punch but it was the 76ers that led, 59-56 at halftime.

Bradley Beal, who had a cold first half, came out guns blazing to start the third quarter. Beal scored nine points in the first five minutes of the half for the Wizards. After few transition opportunities in the first half, Wall was able to get out for some nifty fastbreak layups to stretch the Wizards lead to eight, 82-74.

Wall and Beal would combine for 25 points in the period as the Wizards led, 90-82 entering the fourth quarter.

Philly was on fire to start the fourth quarter. The 76ers hit their first four three-pointers of the period to shrink the Wizards lead to two, 102-100 in an instant. And that’s when the Wizards turned this one around. Careless passes from the young 76ers led to highlight reel plays on the other end for Washington. It looked like the Wizards had this one in the bag as they led 115-108 with just over a minute to play. But again, Washington would have to survive one more barrage of three-pointers.

With the Wizards up two and Philadelphia looking to score in transition, Beal poked the ball free and Otto Porter was there to save it from going out of bounds. Philly sent the Wizards to the free throw line and that would be it as Washington would close this one out.

Wizards win the opener, 120-115.

The bench looks much improved

The reserves combined for 41 points tonight led by Oubre and Meeks with 14 a piece. Oubre was hot from three-point range connecting on three of his first four attempts. He then spent the second half attacking the rim and crashing the glass including this putback dunk:

Mike Scott played well knocking down a three-pointer off the bench as well as a few floaters in the lane. Ian Mahinmi played solid defense while Tim Frazier added five assists. This was easily one of the best performances from the reserve unit as a whole in recent memory.

The Power Forward position could be a rotating door until Markieff Morris returns

Jason Smith started the game but got injured early on. Regardless, he was pretty ineffective. After the Smith injury, Oubre and Scott spent the remainder of the game in the power forward position.

Oubre took advantage of the increased playing time with 14 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes of play. It’ll be interesting to see if Scott Brooks opts to start Oubre or continue bringing him off the bench.

10 Predictions for the 2016-2017 NBA Season

The NBA season is right around the corner. Some things are a sure lock yet others remain a complete unknown. Without further ado, let’s go over 10 predictions (I hopefully don’t get too wrong) for this NBA season.

1.  The Warriors and Cavaliers will meet in the finals for a third straight year – Please name one team that has a shot of taking either of these two down. Yeah… that’s what I thought.

2.  The Warriors will win 70+ games – When the over/under odds came out in Vegas and Golden State’s win total was set at 66.5, I did a double take. This team won 73 games last year and they ADDED Kevin Durant. Anytime the Warriors lose this season it will be a major upset and will be all over ESPN and the other sports networks. Barring a major injury, I don’t think 70 wins will be a problem for this team.

3.  The Cavaliers will coast to 60+ wins – Another surprisingly low over/under was Cleveland’s as their win total was set at 56.5. The thing about Cleveland is, even though they won the championship, all of the focus will still be on Golden State this year. With a watered down Eastern Conference that will be worse than it was last year, I don’t think LeBron James and the Cavs will have any troubles eclipsing the 60-win mark. The only way they don’t get to 60 wins is if LeBron James frequently sits out games for rest.

4.  The Houston Rockets will average 112 points per gameThe Rockets averaged 106.5 points per game last year; good enough for the 8-seed out west. I don’t forsee any scoring setbacks now that Mike D’Antoni is head coach of the Rockets. D’Antoni is an offensive minded coach and will be using James Harden at the point guard position this season. Not only will this team score a ton, they won’t be playing any defense as that’s not really D’Antoni’s M.O. Since they won’t be too worried on the defensive end, they’ll be forced to put up gaudy offensive numbers just to stay competitive in games.

5.  The Heat and the Hawks will miss the playoffs – The Heat and the Hawks finished third and fourth in the Eastern Conference last year. The Heat lost the face of the franchise in Dwyane Wade and also lost Chris Bosh due to medical complications. The Hawks, on the other hand, lost Jeff Teague and Al Horford to the Pacers and Celtics respectively in free agency. Both of these teams lost two of their top players and signed average to slightly above-average players to bandage the wounds. Expect both teams to take a major step backward and miss the playoffs.

6.  The Knicks will make the playoffs – I went back and forth on this one. I don’t think Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are able to stay healthy for an entire season but the thing is, the Eastern Conference isn’t going to be as good as it was last year. If Carmelo Anthony can play in 70+ games and Kristaps Porzingis continues to develop as scheduled, that should be enough for the Knicks to win about 40 games and get into the playoffs.

7.  Joel Embiid will win Rookie of the Year – Too bad for all of the guys who got drafted this season as Joel Embiid is the initial favorite to win rookie of the year. He’s on a bad team so he’ll get plenty of playing time. He’ll have free reign as the 76ers will be losing most games. Oh, and let’s not forget, he’s talented as hell. The only thing holding the big man back is injuries. I really hope Embiid can stay healthy because he has the potential to be a special player .

(Vine by cjzero)

8. John Wall will be a top-5 MVP Candidate – Outside of Damian Lillard, John Wall might be the most underrated player in the NBA. Wall averaged 19.9 points and 10.2 assists last season coming up just .1 point shy of becoming the eleventh player in NBA history to average 20 points and 10 assists for a season. He was the only constant for a Wizards team that likely would have only won 25-30 games last season without him. I expect Wall to put up similar numbers this year and because the Wizards should have a better record than last season (41-41), that should get him more recognition and into the top-5 in MVP voting.

9. The Oklahoma City Thunder will barely make the playoffs – The Rockets, Jazz, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers all got better during the offseason. The Oklahoma City Thunder took a step back as they lost Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors. Russell Westbrook will be a man on a mission and will likely put up monster numbers every single night. The issue is, When Kevin Durant went down during the 2014-2015 season, Westbrook put up monster numbers and the team still missed the playoffs. The talent around Westbrook is solid but Durant leaving will leave a bigger dent than people wish to believe. As a result, the Thunder will have to sneak into the playoffs with either the seventh or eighth seed. A Warriors-Thunder first round matchup would be a pretty nice start to the playoffs, no?

10.  Giannis Antetokounmpo will win Most Improved Player – The Greek Freak is entering the fourth year of his NBA career. He’s increased his scoring, rebounding, and assist numbers every season he’s been in the league. Now that he’ll be playing point guard in Jason Kidd’s offense, this is the year the Greek Freak catapults himself onto the scene, maybe even making an All-Star appearance. He’s got the tools to be a Kevin Durant-type player, and this is the year he puts it together.

Bonus: The Warriors will win the championship – They’re pissed about blowing a 3-1 lead in the finals last year. On top of that, there’s no team out west who’ll test them prior to the finals.