The Warriors are sitting back laughing as the rest of the NBA is in scramble mode

The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in three years on June 12th. And ever since that day, every team not named the Warriors is scrambling to try and play catch up. The blueprint is out on how to win a championship. Just years ago, a “Big 3” would be enough to get the job done. But as we just recently saw, having three all-stars including LeBron James, was barely enough to keep the Cavaliers from getting swept which would have been the ultimate embarrassment.

A “Big 4” is now required to compete for a championship. And as a result, teams are in full-on scramble mode in trying to orchestrate a team that will give them a fighting chance against the Golden State Warriors over the next few years.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have made three-straight finals appearances and won one of them. However, in the owner, Dan Gilbert’s mind, that plus “disagreement on the direction of the future” led to the termination of General Manager, David Griffin.

Let’s think about that. A General Manager who made the finals three straight times and under extreme circumstances (having to consult LeBron James on every decision) still wasn’t enough to warrant an extension.

Now that Cleveland is aware that a “Big 3” of LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving isn’t enough to compete with the Warriors, they’ve started reaching out to the Pacers and Bulls to gauge the interest of Paul George and Jimmy Butler respectively.

Even with Cleveland’s success, the Cavaliers are still left scrambling as they were trying to acquire star Jimmy Butler from Chicago. After it felt like Kevin Love had found his niche with the Cavs, he’ll now be the centerpiece in all trade talks that the Cavs are involved with.

And remember the Lakers? The lowly Lakers who finished 26-56 this past season? Well, they’re just as much in the mix as Cleveland is. Just last night, The Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov (salary dump) to the Nets in exchange for Brooke Lopez and their first round draft pick.

This is significant because with the Lakers expected to draft Lonzo Ball on Thursday night’s draft, they’ve now cleared up roughly $60 million in salary cap space which will allow them to sign one and potentially two max deal free agents in the summer of 2018.

Now that Paul George has made it clear that he’s leaving the Pacers after next year to go to the Lakers, teams are in a bind debating whether they should take a shot on the all-star for one year knowing that he’ll leave or just stay away altogether. About a half a dozen teams are interested in George but realistically, he’s going to be in either a Pacers, Cavaliers, or Lakers uniform next year.

And remember that Lebron James guy? He can also opt out of his deal in the summer of 2018 and has been linked to the Lakers on several occasions. Now the Lakers have the cap space necessary to sign both James and George next summer including other aging stars if they are willing to take pay cuts to form yet another super-team.

To recap: A GM who won a title just one year ago has been fired. The best player in the league is unsettled with the firing of his GM and now looks more likely than ever to leave for L.A. after next year. A perennial all-star has demanded out of his current situation. The Lakers have cleared an enormous amount of cap space to make a run at one, maybe two more free agents. And the NBA season ended just nine days ago.

Not to mention, the Celtics could potential land Blake Griffin or Gordon Hayward. The Clippers are now shopping De’Andre Jordan. And the Knicks (yes the Knicks!!!) have started shopping Kristaps Porzingis to gauge the interest level of other teams.

And why all the chaos? Because how the hell else are you going to beat the Golden State Warriors?

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Kelly Oubre made some improvements, but still has a ways to go

Kelly Oubre Jr. played just six seconds in Game 7 as the Wizards lost to theBoston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And just like that, his season ended the same way it began; with one big question mark.

Coming into the 2016-2017 campaign, the expectation was that Oubre would step into the backup role left vacant as the Wizards opted not to re-sign guys likeGarrett Temple and Jared Dudley. The hope was that the second-year player would slowly morph into a 3 & D player that the Wizards have sought out sinceTrevor Ariza’s departure. And although Oubre did improve from his rookie season, he still has a ways to go.

Even though Oubre struggled to score at times, Scott Brooks often opted to play him over Markieff Morris with the starters to close out games during stretches in December and January. However, when he spent time playing alongside the second unit, he struggled to score.

Although Oubre’s minutes essentially doubled from last season to this season (10.7 to 20.3), his scoring never came around. The second-year player worked with Drew Hanlen this offseason to try and improve his offensive game but it never came to fruition. He averaged more points this season (6.3) but that was due to his increased usage and shot volume.

In what looked like it would be another ho-hum season with just minor improvements, Oubre turned in the best stretch of his career starting with a 16 point and 7 rebound game as the Wizards beat the Cavs, 127-115 on March 25th. That kicked off a stretch where Oubre would average 11.4 points per game over the next 10 games, the best stretch of his career.

Unfortunately, that hot stretch didn’t fully carry over to the playoffs as Oubre’s numbers reverted back to the mean as he averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds; very similar to his shaky and inconsistent regular season numbers.

Now, Oubre enters a very pivotal offseason. Unlike Porter, he will not be forced into a starting role in his third season. That means Oubre will need to continue to make strides in his game keeping in mind that his minutes will probably hover around the 20-minute mark again next season.

In a recent interview, Oubre stated that he’ll be working out with Bradley Beal this summer to work on creating his own shot and setting up others. This seems like a big mistake. Oubre still has not become a knockdown shooter or a lockdown defender. To flourish as a key bench player next season, he’ll have to raise his three-point shooting percentage. His jump shot did look much cleaner this season than when he entered the NBA but the only issue was, it still never went in at a high rate. Shooting 28.7 percent from distance isn’t going to cut it.

Like his rookie campaign, Oubre would either shoot a three-point shot or would try to drive all the way to the hole and finish in traffic. There was an improvement here as Oubre connected on 57 percent of his field goals within eight feet from the hoop, but keep in mind that includes plenty of easy, uncontested dunks off of turnovers. When he tried finishing over seven-footers in halfcourt situations, it often led to poor shot attempts or turnovers before he even got a chance to get a shot up.

In addition, Oubre should focus on improving his perimeter defense. Wizards fans salivate over Oubre’s physical tools as he stands at 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan, but he hasn’t become a great on-ball defender, yet. He still gambles too often on defense, is overzealous, and commits far too many fouls.

As Oubre enters one of the most important offseasons of his career, he’ll be best suited in trying to hone in his shooting and defense rather than worrying about creating his own shot. Because when it boils down to it, his evolution and ceiling as an NBA player most likely mimics that of Trevor Ariza and Otto Porter more than it does Paul George or Kawhi Leonard.

Wall, Wizards pull away from Pacers win, 112-107.

Three Wizards players log double-doubles led by John Wall and Markieff Morris with 26 points a piece as the Wizards pull away from the Pacers and win 112-107. Marcin Gortat added 14 points and 16 rebounds while Beal scored 20 as the Wizards knock down an eastern conference foe hunting them down in the standings.

It looked like Otto Porter was going to be in for a big game. Porter scored eight points in the first period and knocked down his first three-pointer of the night. Unfortunately for Porter, he was shutout the rest of the game. For the first time in a long time, Scott Brooks went with all five reserves on the floor to end the first quarter. The Wizards led 33-27 after one.

The Wizards were a cold 2-7 from the floor to begin the second quarter. The starters came back in and countered with an 8-0 run with all points coming courtesy of Morris. The Pacers lead was stretched to as much as nine but the Wizards came back and tied the game at 59 at halftime.

The teams traded buckets for most of the third quarter. Once again, Brooks reinserted all five reserves to end the quarter and they were able to regain the lead as they capitalized on swift cuts and were able to get easy buckets.

The Pacers wouldn’t go away. Tough shots from Paul George down the stretch kept Indiana within striking distance. With under a minute remaining, Wall looped around the court and found Morris for a wide-open three as the Wizards would take a 108-102 lead and never look back.

Wizards win 112-107.

Frontcourt comes up big

Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat both notched double-doubles and combined for 40 points and 26 rebounds (10 OREB). Morris scored a season-high 26 points on 11-18 shooting while knocking down three three-pointers. Gortat came up big with eight offensive rebounds often resulting in second chance points. Gortat’s biggest offensive rebound of the game came with 40 seconds remaining as Beal missed both free-throws but Gortat was there to knock it out and give Washington an extra possession.

Brooks plays all five reserves at once

Scott Brooks has been shuffling lineups for almost the entire season and continued to do so tonight. Before, Brooks always kept a starter on the floor. Tonight, he went with all five reserves for five-minute stretches at two points in the game. The bench relinquished the lead in the first half but built out the lead in the second half. Clearly, Brooks seems to have more and more confidence in his bench as of late. That, or he’s trying to keep the starters’ minutes down as much as possible.

Wizards get back to business

After a heartbreaker against the Cavs and an uninspiring win against the Nets, the Wizards looked like themselves tonight. John Wall was doing John Wall things while Beal was knocking down three-pointers as he usually does. Nice all around win against a team a few games behind them in the standings.

Young hits circus shot with .9 seconds, drops Wiz 107-105.

Thaddeus Young hit a circus shot with .9 seconds left to put the Pacers up, 107-105. The Wizards had one last chance as Bradley Beal curled free off a screen for a good look at a three-pointer but it wouldn’t fall.

Wizards fall to the Pacers, 107-105, ending their three-game win streak.

For the first time in a long time, the Wizards got off to a hot start as they hit five of their first six field goals to take an early 12-1 lead. Bradley Beal and John Wall both scored 10 points each in the quarter for the Wizards as they led 36-29 after the first period.

The Pacers erased the lead as they used a 9-0 run late in the second quarter behind hot shooting from Paul George and Jeff Teague to tie the game at 57 going into halftime.

The start of the third quarter was sloppy as the Pacers started 0-6 from the field where the Wizards were just 2-9. Tomas Satoransky got his “welcome to the NBA” moment at Jeff Teagues’ expense. Teague blew by Satoransky on several occasions and used a nasty spin move for a layup that turned the rookie around.

The Wizards cut into the lead with a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter but the Pacers had an answer of their own. George took over in the quarter as he continuously hit tough shots over Beal, Morris, and Porter.

With 15 seconds left at the Wizards down two, Bradley Beal pulled up for what looked like three but ended up being a long two. Rather than taking a one-point lead, the Wizards and Pacers were all tied up at 105 with 15 seconds to play.

Young would hit a circus shot over Morris with just .9 seconds to play as Beal would miss his shot at a game-winner on the other end. Wizards lose, 107-105.

Wizards go cold from three-point range

After starting the game 3/4 from distance, the Wizards went just 5/29 the rest of the game. Beal and Porter hit threes early as the Wizards started out on an early 12-1 run. Things cooled down for the Wizards from deep in the second and third quarters but they were awakened in the fourth. Otto Porter hit another key three-pointer as Bradley Beal also had two more key threes as the Wizards chipped away at the Pacers lead.

Shooting 24 percent from three-point range is less than ideal considering the hot start.

Wizards have no answer for Paul George

George was an All-Star tonight as he scored a game-high 27 points. The Wizards had no answer as George took turns feasting on several Wizards players. Otto started on George but the Wizards switched Beal onto him and even Morris at times. It didn’t matter, as George was unstoppable tonight.

The loss stings but isn’t too upsetting

Yes, the loss stings, but not all hope is lost. The Wizards were very competitive for the entire game considering they were on a second half of a back-to-back and coming off their biggest win of the season. There were times in the quarter when it looked like the Pacers would pull away and the Wizards would just pack it in, but they didn’t. They continued to battle and stay competitive throughout. If this game was played one month ago, I don’t know if we’d be saying the same thing.

After Sluggish Start, Americans Roll Past Venezuela, 113-69.

After being all tied up at 18 after one quarter, the USA Men’s basketball team would flip the switch outscoring the Venezuelans 95-51 the rest of the way and would win comfortably, 113-69. Five Americans scored in double figures tonight led by Paul George with 20 points off of the bench.

The Americans got off to a slow start hitting just 3-8 field goals to start the game. Things got chippy as the United States racked up fouls quickly including DeMarcus Cousins who was forced to the bench early with two fouls (Only 5 fouls permitted in International play).

The Venezuelans like to play slow and control the pace of the game often using most of the 24 second shot clock. This affected the United States early as they could not get out and run. As a result, the Americans found themselves all tied up at 18 where they committed six turnovers to go along with 10 fouls in a sloppy first quarter performance.

The United States would use a 19-2 run led by Carmelo Anthony with 10 points in the second period to stretch this lead to 22, 48-26 at halftime.

The onslaught would continue as Jimmy Butler would come alive hitting several jumpers as well as DeArndre Jordan who made his first six field goals of the game, many on put back dunks.

With the game out of hand, Paul George put the icing on the cake when he took this defensive rebound the length of the court to punish the rim.

After a minor scare, the Americans roll to a 113-69 victory over Venezuela.

The Americans take on Australia on Wednesday at 6 P.M.

Wizards blow lead, fall to Pacers 100-99.

Paul George loves playing at Verizon Center.

With just three seconds remaining and the Pacers down one, Paul George calmly walked to the free throw line knocking down both attempts to give the Pacers a 100-99 lead as they’d win this game. George scored a game-high 38 points as the Wizards would have jumped into the 8-seed with a win but failed to do so.

Otto Porter was hot to begin this game knocking down his first three shots and the first six points for the Wizards. But as we’ve come accustomed, Porter would not score the rest of the game.

Anderson came in off the bench and got involved right away stretching the Wizards lead to 10, 41-31 early into the second quarter. Some nice passing including a tic-tac-toe from Wall to Anderson to Nene had the Wizards up 64-56 at halftime.

Scary moment for the Wizards as Bradley Beal went up for a layup and fell awkwardly on his hip. Beal would not return to the game but is expected to join the team on their west coast road trip coming up.

Lavoy Allen tied the game at 80 early in the fourth quarter on two free throws. Paul George would take over for the Pacers scoring 12 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter.

Free throw shooting has been an issue for this Wizards team and tonight they lost a game because of it. Wall and Nene missed two key free throws down the stretch in the fourth quarter. The Pacers made theirs.

Wizards lose 100-99 in heartbreaking fashion.

Free Throw Shooting: It finally caught up to them. The Wizards shot 15/24 from the free throw line tonight whereas the Pacers were 19/20 from the charity stripe. Nene was 2/6 from the line whereas Wall was 4/6. That was the difference. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; if the Wizards don’t clean this up and fast, they’ll lose many more close games due to free throw shooting.

Turnovers: Feels like the beginning of the season talking about turnovers and free throw shooting every game. Once again, the Wizards committed 17 turnovers tonight resulting in 21 points for the Pacers. Wall and Beal combined for 11 of the 17 turnovers. I understand that Wall has the ball in his hands more than any other player in the league but he cannot be turning the ball over seven times a game.

Marcin Gortat: Marcin Gortat had another monster game with eight points and 17 rebounds. Gortat accounted for 37 percent of the Wizards rebounds tonight and half of their offensive rebounds. Unfortunately, the Wizards only had 10 points off of those second chance opportunities. In mind scratching fashion, Wittman opted to go with Nene over Gortat for the last minute of the game. Would have rather had Gortat at the line.

Recap: Wizards at Pacers

The Wizards fall in double overtime to the Pacers 99-95 in a game that had a playoff like atmosphere. For the Pacers, this was a playoff game as they needed to win both of their remaining two games to claim the 8th and final spot in the eastern conference standings.

George Hill and C.J. Miles were the players of the game for the Pacers scoring 24 and 25 points respectively.

Both teams started out ice cold from the field to start this one. The first bucket by either team wasn’t scored until the 9:10 mark of the first quarter as they started a collective 1-10 from the field. Poor shooting from both sides continued throughout the quarter as this one was tied 16-16 after one.

The Wizards bench started the second quarter and provided a spark for this team. The bench scored 35 points in this game including 10 from Otto Porter.

C.J. Miles was the go to guy for the Pacers in the second. He had a neon green light and was jacking shots up at will. Midway through the quarter, he went up for what would have been a posterizing dunk on Kris Humphires but Humphries came away with the block.

The Wizards locked down of defense including no baskets on seven straight possessions for the Pacers in the second. The Wizards stretched the lead out to 8, 41-33 holding the Pacers to just 27% shooting.

The second half was a different story as the Pacers started out 5-6 from the field.   Cold shooting from the Wizards resulted in a 9-2 run for the Pacers who were able to cut the lead to one, midway through the third quarter.

The Wizards had a very effective 16 fast break points and 36 points in the paint including a steal from John Wall and a nifty behind the back pass to his backcourt mate Bradley Beal for the throw down.

Even so, the Pacers were able to cut into Washington’s lead trailing by just 3, 59-56 entering the fourth quarter.

As poetic justice would have it, Paul George exceeded his minutes restriction tonight to hit a three to open the fourth quarter and tie the game.

The Wizards would utilize a 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to take a 70-61 lead and it felt like the Wizards might coast away with this one. Nope, in #sowizards fashion, the Wizards blew the nine point lead. The Pacers had a stretch where they scored on eight straight possessions in the quarter to get back in this one.

With the game tied at 81, Randy Wittman drew up a 1-4 play for John Wall. John did not get a good look and missed the shot. We’d be going to overtime.

Overtime was hard on the eyes for both teams as the Wizards scored two points through the first four minutes. The Pacers didn’t get their first bucket of the session until Roy Hibbert hit a desperation jumper with the shot clock winding down.

With the game tied at 85, this time, Randy Wittman drew up a play for Bradley Beal who had the ball stripped and deflected off his leg. We’d be going to a second overtime.

The Pacers took firm control in the overtime when C.J. Miles hit a corner 3 to take a three point lead. The Wizards looked deflated and you could tell this one was over. Back to back field goals from David West and the lead was up to seven. Bradley Beal hit a three to cut into the lead but it was meaningless at that point as the Wizards would fall 99-95.

The Wizards are locked into the 5 seed so the game didn’t matter standings wise. The Wiz cap off the season tomorrow night in Cleveland. Wouldn’t be surprised if all of the starters got the night off.