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Marcin Gortat's rebirth huge for Wizards vs. Hawks in playoffs: 'It's about time to wake up'

Marcin Gortat's rebirth huge for Wizards vs. Hawks in playoffs: 'It's about time to wake up'

What Marcin Gortat has done in the first two games of the Wizards' first-round series vs. the Atlanta Hawks might be his two best performances all season. It's an about-face from where he was three weeks ago.

Why the change?

"The part where you suck. It just tells you that it's about time to wake up and start doing your job. The fact that I got to accept what's going on," said Gortat to CSNmidatlantic.com before the regular season ended. "The fact that this is how it's going to be and I got to perform now and then just keep fighting for my opportunities, minutes, touches, whatever it is. At the end of the day I think that that's what happened. The Utah game is where I started playing better. Maybe numbers don't show but I think it was the turning point."

Gortat, who had begun to lose playing time to Ian Mahinmi after the backup returned from knee procedures, had just four points and 11 rebounds in tha regular-season loss March 31 in Salt Lake City.

[RELATED: Wizards must fix Brandon Jennings' defense ASAP]

Against Atlanta in the playoffs, he has had 14 points and 10 rebounds in both games, each victories, including five blocks in Game 2. And combined he has shot 14-for-21, or 67%, from the field.

Gortat has had far better games than even those statistically speaking, namely 21 points and 18 rebounds in a two-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs. But none of it shows his defensive effort against Dwight Howard, what he does pre-catch to deny him post position, switching out on guards such as Tim Hardaway in space and defending All-Star Paul Millsap when the Hawks go to small-ball at the five.

Mahinmi is out at least the first three games with Atlanta because of a left calf strain. There is no other true center on the roster and Gortat is it. Whatever the Wizards have needed from him, he's given it to them going into Saturday's Game 3 at Phillips Arena.

“I thought he has been great both games. He has an athletic big that can have monster games in Dwight Howard," coach Scott Brooks said. "He’s done a great job of just staying around the basket, staying in front of them. He’s done a good job. That’s what he’s done. He’s a big part of our team, and when he defends he helps us. He’s not known as a defender because he does so many good things offensively, but he knows how to play. He had some tough assignments. Millsap is not an easy guard for anybody to play, and he did a good job of guarding him, also.”

[RELATED: Wizards escape after Beal comes alive in Game 2]

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Cavs tried to trade Kyrie Irving to Warriors for Klay Thompson, report says

Cavs tried to trade Kyrie Irving to Warriors for Klay Thompson, report says

The Cavaliers ultimately got a lot in return for Kyrie Irving, a star point guard who wanted out after helping lead Cleveland to three straight NBA Finals appearances. But before they struck a deal with the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and others, the Cavs reportedly tried for Klay Thompson of the Warriors.

Yes, the two teams that have met in the NBA Finals three straight times discussed a potential blockbuster. Marc Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated reported the would-be trade, saying Cavs GM Kobi Altman "did call the uninterested Warriors about Klay Thompson, a source said."

Well, wouldn't that have been interesting? From Cleveland's perspective, it would have been a great trade. Thompson could co-exist with LeBron James and Kevin Love, and one could argue he's a better player than Irving is. 

From the Warriors' side of things, that trade would have been a potential disaster. Irving would have needed to play alongside Stephen Curry and, though they would be amazing on offense, defense would be a completely different issue. Thompson works perfectly with Curry because he can not only score, but he's among the best defensive guards in the business. 

Beyond all those things, would the Warriors really want to switch it up now after winning their second title in three years? Nice try, Cleveland.

[RELATED: WHERE DO WIZARDS STAND IN EAST AFTER KYRIE TRADE?]

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Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 28 - What the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade means for the Wizards

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Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 28 - What the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade means for the Wizards

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast, CSN New England's Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakeley joined the show to break down the blockbuster trade involving Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller offered their own thoughts on the deal and later answered fan questions on the Wizards' bench.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

[RELATED: Keef and Dolph: an odd couple friendship within the Wizards' organization]