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.

Wizards comeback falls short, lose to 76ers 120-112.

The Wizards make a furious 4th quarter comeback but ultimately, fall short to the 76ers, 120-112. John Wall (29) and Bradley Beal (40) combined for 69 points as the Wizards found themselves down by 22 and it would be too much to overcome. This one stings as Joel Embiid did not play for the 76ers tonight.

This game started off the way you’d think a game against two teams who hadn’t played in eight games would start off. A lot of missed shots, silly turnovers, and poor defense all around. The Wizards finally got their legs underneath them behind a combined 18 points from Wall and Beal as they led 28-26 after one.

The 76ers had things going as they opened the second quarter up on a 10-2 run. The Washington bench was awful tonight combining for just 11 points for the game and allowed Philly to build on their lead. The Sixers outscored the Wizards 35-21 in the period to take a 61-49 lead into halftime.

Washington was able to get their scoring going in the third quarter but the issue was, they couldn’t stop the Sixers. The Wizards were able to cut the lead down to 12 on several occasions but Philadelphia would go on a run to stretch it back out to 17. The Sixers led 95-81 after three as this one looked all but over.

The Wizards would not go away though. A furious fourth quarter rally behind big buckets from Wall and Beal kept the Wizards in the game. Washington got the game to as close as four points, 116-112 with 22 seconds to play but couldn’t cut into the lead anymore. Philly wins 120-112.

This was not the way the Wizards wanted to start the post All-Star game stretch.

Wall and Beal get no help

Outside of Wall and Beal, no Wizards’ player hit double figures in scoring until the fourth quarter. Morris and Gortat ended the night with 14 and 11 points respectively but it was Wall and Beal who stole the show with a combined 69 points. Porter, who’s usually automatic from three-point range, was just 1-5 from distance and could never really get going.

The bench disappoints again

The Washington bench combined for just 11 points and nine rebounds tonight. In a nutshell, they were awful. They didn’t stretch the lead when the starters were out forcing Scott Brooks to play starters extended minutes alongside the reserves. Newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic couldn’t get going tonight as he was just 1-5 from the field.

Wizards vs. 76ers final score: Washington overcomes slow start, cruises to 109-93 victory over Philadelphia

All five Washington starters scored in double figures as the Wizards overcame an early 13-point deficit to blow out the 76ers, 109-93. John Wall, band pinkie and all, led the way for the Wizards with 25 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds. Bradley Beal scored 20 points (18 in the first half) as the Wizards won their 11th straight game at Verizon Center to go back over .500 with a record of 20-19.

The Wizards came into Saturday night’s game with two days of rest while the Sixers were coming off a game the night before against Charlotte. However, if you watched the first quarter, you would have had no idea. The Wizards showed next to no life in the opening period as Jahlil Okafor and Ersan Ilyasova torched the Wizards for 18 points in the period, forcing Washington to dig themselves out of yet another, early double-digit hole.

The second quarter was a different story. After shooting just 31 percent in the first quarter, Washington finally started to get their shots to fall as they ended the half on a 24-11 run that tied things up at halftime.

The third quarter proved to be even better. The Wizards raced out on a 7-0 run in the blink of an eye. John Wall was 3-4 from three-point range in the period with the only miss coming on a heat check that was blocked. After missing most of the first half due to foul trouble, Gortat made his mark on the game as he dunked over former Wizards Killer Gerald Henderson.

The Wizards would outscore the Sixers 30-15 in the period, with the lead ballooning to 17 at one point, as the Wizards held a comfortable 86-71 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Kelly Oubre must have had a lot of pent up anger after reading all of the Bullets Forever “Wizards Killers” posts as he posterized Gerald Henderson to start the fourth quarter.

The starters would rest for the majority of the fourth quarter as the bench would carry the Wizards to a comfortable, 109-93 victory.

John Wall had a great game, bad hand and all. Pinkie swear.

Like the rest of the squad, Wall got off to a slow start tonight connecting on just one of his first five shots. Wall was playing with an injured hand/pinkie tonight and you could tell by his first shot; a brick from the elbow. After that slow start, rather than settling for jumpers, Wall attacked the lane with all of his made field goals in the first half (5) coming in the paint.

Wall caught fire from three-point range connecting on three of four from deep in the third quarter and 11 points in the period.

Jahlil Okafor was a handful

Okafor received extended minutes tonight as Joel Embiid sat out of tonight’s contest and he was a load in the paint. Okafor was the aggressor going right at Gortat forcing him into two quick fouls. Jason Smith came in for Gortat but he picked up two personal fouls quickly as well. The second-year player did most of his damage in the paint en route to 26 points tonight (16 in the first half).

It was just one of those nights

John Wall was swag surfing after a slew of threes. Gerald Henderson found himself on the wrong side of two posters. Jason Smith threw up the three goggles after hitting a three-pointer. Yeah, it was one of those games.

A way too early ranking of the Eastern Conference

Last week we took a look at how the teams stack up early in the Southeast Division.

Now let’s see how the entire Eastern Conference stacks up now that free agency is in the rearview mirror.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs just won the championship. Cleveland just re-signed LeBron James to a three-year deal. Not much else to discuss here. Let’s keep moving.

2. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are here by default. After making their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in team history, the Raptors are looking to build on that momentum to carry them even further. They re-signed All-Star DeMar DeRozan to a five-year $145 million dollar year to keep the dynamic backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan intact.

Bismack Biyombo played out of his mind during the playoffs earning him a large payday but with the Orlando Magic. Many think that Biyombo’s departure could potentially set the Raptors back. I disagree. Biyombo is a backup center and a rim protector. He averaged 5.5 points and eight rebounds during the regular season but those numbers jumped 6.2 points and 9.4 rebounds during the postseason. Biyombo is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end but is very limited on the offensive end. He’s a classic energy guy who happened to explode on a national stage at the right time. Yes, they’ll miss his defensive presence and shot-blocking; it’s just, I don’t think that’s enough to set the entire team back.

The Raptors replaced Biyombo with the acquisition of Jared Sullinger. As a starter last season, Sullinger averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Celtics. However this year, he’s expected to come off of the bench for the Raptors. Sullinger’s playing style is the opposite of Biyombo. Sullinger is shorter in stature but throws his weight around to gain position in the paint. Sullinger can stretch the floor and is effective in doing so as he shot 44.1 percent from shots 5-9 feet from the basket and 44.9 percent on shots 20-24 feet from the hoop.

He isn’t a great three-point shooter but is capable of knocking them down as he shot a modest 28.2 percent from distance last season which is better than most centers.

The Raptors did what they had to do to stay at the top of the Eastern Conference. They may not scare Cleveland, but keeping DeRozan and other key players intact will make them a force to be reckoned with next season.

3. Boston Celtics

The Celtics return four of their five starters from last season. They upgraded at the center position in acquiring Al Horford to fill the void left by Jared Sullinger. Although Horford is 30 years old, the former All-Star is an instant upgrade over Sullinger as he averaged more points (15.2), shot better from the field (50.5 percent), and shot better from three-point range (34.4 percent).

Plug in rookie Jaylen Brown and now the Celtics have another long wing to go alongside Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, and Gerald Green.

Additionally, according to ESPN.com, the Celtics are projected to have the easiest schedule in the league next season.

This team still lacks an “alpha dog” as I don’t believe Isaiah Thomas has reached that level yet. However, they still have a very good roster and one of the top coaches in the NBA. The arrow continues to point up for this team.

4. Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers didn’t get much publicity but positioned themselves very well for next season. The Pacers upgraded at point guard acquiring Indianapolis native Jeff Teague from the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team trade. Teague and Hill shot almost identical shooting percentages from three-point range and from the field, however,Teague averaged more points (15.7) and assists (5.9).

Us Wizards fans know that Ian Mahinmi is now gone from the Pacers. The Pacers seem very pleased and confident to move forward with second-year player Myles Turner at center and they also signed a Swiss Army Knife player in Thaddeus Young.

The Pacers secured up the center position with Al Jefferson and it’s very clear that Paul George is back to his superstar ways. The Pacers do have a new coach in Nate McMillan to get used to, however; this team looks poised to take a step forward after getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

5. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons bring back essentially the same roster that they had last season after re-signing All-Star center Andre Drummond. In somewhat of an under the radar move, the Pistons acquired Boban Marjanovic from the Spurs to play the backup center position. He is still somewhat of an unknown as he didn’t get too much playing time in San Antonio, however, he’s coming from the best culture in the NBA and will practice against one of the best centers in the NBA in Andre Drummond.

Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris will now have the entire offseason to get acclimated with the team rather than learning on the fly in just 30 games prior to the postseason. The Pistons have a nice core of players and young guys such as Stanley Johnson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who should continue to get better with time.

Expect a big step forward from the Pistons this season.

6. Charlotte Hornets

The losses of Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee sting; No doubt about it. But as Kemba Walker enters his sixth NBA season, I feel that he’s on the verge of a breakout year. Walker scored a career-best 20.9 points last season. After getting snubbed from the All-Star game, Walkers’ numbers ballooned to 25.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.6 rebounds in the three weeks afterward. Walker has had his superstar moments evidenced by his 52-point game against the Jazz last season. We’ve seen Walker perform at All-Star levels in stretches; now’s the time where he does it for an entire season.

Outside of Walker, the Hornets kept many key guys intact by re-signing Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still around along with young, fresher guys in Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Jeremy Lamb to round out the roster. That’s enough to make the Hornets the early favorites to win the Southeast division.

7. Washington Wizards

The Wizards return their starting five (after the All-Star game) from last season. The big X-factor this season will be Bradley Beal. Will he stay healthy? That’s the $128 million dollar question. Although he feels his injury woes are behind him, the elephant in the room will remain until Beal proves that he can stay healthy as the four-year player averages just 62 games played per season in his short four-year career.

Another uncertainty for the Wizards is Otto Porter’s development. He has continued to develop over the past three seasons, however if the Wizards are going to be relevant in the playoff race again, they’ll need Porter to take yet another step forward. He needs to continue to increase his scoring as the front office is all in on him and Kelly Oubre at the small forward position.

John Wall on the mend from knee surgery and Bradley Beal’s health are a constant question mark, so if Porter can take on more of a scoring load for this team early; that will pay dividends down the road.

8. Miami Heat

Let me preface this by saying this ranking assumes Chris Bosh DOESN’T play next season.

The Heat lost key players in Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Joe Johnson to free agency. That hurts. The team will now be counting on Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and up and comer Justice Winslow to carry the torch for this team.

The Heat should be just fine defensively as Eric Spoelstra is known for his defensive schemes however the offense is another question. Hassan Whiteside is limited offensively, the team replaced Wade with Dion Waiters, but will count on Goran Dragic to carry the scoring load. Dragic has averaged 20 points for a season just once in his career and if the Heat are going to be competitive this year, he’ll need to do that again.

The wildcard here is Chris Bosh. As mentioned, Bosh has been dealing with blood clots over the past two years causing him to miss 67 games over the past two seasons. If Bosh is cleared to play and can stay healthy, that should be enough for the Heat to make the playoffs. If he can’t, the Heat will probably be on the outside looking in.

9. Chicago Bulls

Will the Bulls make any three-pointers next year? It can be assumed that Rondo, Wade, and Butler will be starting at the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward positions. None of them shoot threes very well. That leaves Nikola Mirotic, the team’s power forward, as the Bulls’ best three-point option.

10. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks lost Jeff Teague and Al Horford in the offseason. Yes, they signed Dwight Howard but he has proven that he’s not the easiest teammate to play with. In addition, Dennis Schroder will now be counted on to lead this team. There’re too many unknowns right now. Expect the Hawks to fall out of the playoffs.

11. New York Knicks

Derrick Rose was right. The Knicks did form a “Super-Team”…… if the year was 2011. The Knicks should have an improved record now that there’s more talent surrounding Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. It’s just the players they signed in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee are injury prone or are already past their prime.

12. Milwaukee Bucks

I thought the Bucks would break out last year but they didn’t. They have youth, size, athleticism, and a good coach (so we think). They fooled me last year. Now I need to see the improvement to believe it.

13. Orlando Magic

The Magic added size and athleticism in the offseason. Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka are good players; however, scoring is not their strong suit. Scoring for this team will be difficult.

14. Philadelphia 76ers

They went 10-72 last season and drafted the preseason favorite for rookie of the year in Ben Simmons. Can only go up from here, right?

15. Brooklyn Nets

Close your eyes Nets’ fans.

Wizards hold off 76ers, win 116-108.

The Wizards use a fourth quarter rally to come back and fend off the 76ers, 116-108. John Wall was a star again for the Wizards scoring 37 points and Marcin Gortat turned in his best game of the season with 18 points and 20 rebounds (career-high).

The Wizards had way more talent than the 76ers and that was apparent as the Wizards forced their will to a 60-48 halftime lead.

Things fell apart for the Wizards in the third quarter as the Sixers went on a 19-4 run to take the lead 67-66 midway through the period. Isaiah Canaan topped it of with a corner three-pointer right in front of the Wizards bench and had some words for the bench too.

Philly led 82-79 entering the fourth quarter and this had #SoWizards written all over it.

The Wizards utilized a 16-0 run of their own to regain the lead. John Wall was not settling for jumpers and was getting to the hole. Gortat had a couple of and-1 opportunities. And Markieff Morris hit key jump shots as the Wizards regained the lead 110-100.

Ish Smith gave Wizards’ fans a bit of heartburn when he knocked down an arching three-pointer to cut the lead to three, 110-107, with just 25 seconds to play. But the Wizards wouldn’t falter and closed this game out, 116-108.

The Wizards should have lost this game. Against any other team in the NBA, they probably would have. Fortunately they were playing the 76ers tonight.

Markieff Morris turns in his best game as a Wizard: I was very apprehensive when the Morris trade took place but am warming up to him more and more with every passing game. Morris had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. It should also be noted that Morris started for Dudley. Morris had a very solid mid-range game tonight, was effective in the post, and always made the right pass after getting double teamed. Morris was 0-2 from three-point range and still hasn’t hit a 3-pointer as a Wizard yet. Even so, a very solid performance tonight.

Marcin Gortat: Marcin Gortat may have turned in his best performance of the season tonight with 18 points, 20 rebounds, and five assists. The Polish Hammer had half of the Wizards’ offensive rebounds (7) and a third of the Wizards defensive rebounds (13). On top of that, Gortat was very effective in the post often getting matched up against Nerlens Noel. Gortat missed a few bunnies but we’ll give him a pass tonight.

Wizards overcome slow start, beat 76ers 103-94.

Five Wizards players scored in double figures as the team overcomes a slow start to beat the 76ers, 103-94. John Wall was the high scorer for the Wizards with 23 points and was just two rebounds short of notching a triple-double.

The Wizards really didn’t pick things up until about halfway through the third quarter. For most of the night, the 76ers played like the team who was looking to make a late season playoff push. The Wizards were just going through the motions and assumed that would be enough to beat this Sixers team.

The Wizards went on a 12-2 run to end the third quarter giving them a 76-72 lead. After stretching the lead out to ten early in the fourth quarter, the Sixers made one last push and were able to cut the deficit to five. The Wizards hit their free throws down the stretch to close this out 103-94.

Slow Start: Once again, this team lacked a sense of urgency to begin the game. Give Philadelphia credit as they played very hard tonight. The Wizards talent eventually took over but it wasn’t until deep into the second half. Slow starts won’t necessarily cost you a game against the Sixers but do that against other Eastern Conference foes and it will. It’s still pretty puzzling that a team who’s on the outside looking in doesn’t play with more urgency.

Free Throw Shooting: The Wizards went 16-17 from the line tonight as well as 6-6 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. I’ve mentioned how free throw shooting could potentially cost this team if they didn’t clean up their act but tonight, it iced the game.

Otto Porter Reemerges… Sort Of: Otto started the game 4-5 from the field but then missed his next seven shots. Porter did all of his scoring in the first quarter, a time where the Wizards were struggling to get buckets. Porter also had 10 rebounds tonight. Unfortunately, after the first quarter, Porter went invisible again. He lacked aggression and didn’t look engaged at times. This game was better than the last few for Porter, but still, he’s got to show up for the entire game.