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Morning tip: Wizards can look ahead to Hawks, John Wall's preferred playoff opponent

Morning tip: Wizards can look ahead to Hawks, John Wall's preferred playoff opponent

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Never to look ahead on the schedule is the position of every coach and player in every sport, but it’s difficult for the Wizards not to going into their final regular-season game and think about the Atlanta Hawks. It's the opponent John Wall wants for the first-round series.

"Totally," Wall said about his No. 4 seed team playing the current No. 5 seed with two days left in the regular season. "I’m still mad about the time I injured my hand. That’s still in the back of my mind even though they might have a different team.”

The Hawks (42-38) were their last opponent when they last made the playoffs in 2015 and were eliminated in the conference semifinals in six games. Wall, who broke his left hand and wrist in a Game 1 upset, remains salty about the outcome. The Wizards were in a good position to topple the then-No. 1 seed in the East if not for his injury when he was shoved to the floor by Jeff Teague on a drive.

Teague is no longer with Atlanta, but Dennis Schroder is the starting point guard. He taunted Wall with threats to strike his injured hand on purpose.

Both teams have gone in different directions since then. While the Hawks qualified for the 10th consecutive postseason, they're not as potent without Kyle Korver and Al Horford. Paul Millsap remains, but other than the season-opening win over the Wizards at Phillips Arena, they've fallen three consecutive times. 

Not that regular-season series should matter much. The Wizards couldn't figure out them in the 2014-15 season, losing 3 of 4, before flipping the postseason script. They got there after going 1-3 vs. the Toronto Raptors in the regular season and then sweeping them in the first round. 

In Monday’s win at the Pistons and in Wednesday’s game at the Miami Heat, the Wizards' focus is more about fine-tuning themselves. There hasn’t been a lot of practice time in the last month of the season.

“I think we’re going to use it as not necessarily to experiment but just work on things that we’ve done in the past but we haven’t worked on lately,” coach Scott Brooks said of the last two games that won't impact their seeding. “Some of our pick-and-roll coverage, we can probably get into some different coverages.... To get some game reps because there's a different level of intensity in game reps than in practice. That is definitely what I’m going to consider throughout the next couple of games.”

[RELATED: Tougher matchup for Wizards: Cavs or Celtics?]

He held out Wall (left thigh contusion) and Otto Porter (back spasms) in Detroit. Ian Mahinmi has what is being called a left calf strain on preliminary diagnosis when he came up limp late in the fourth quarter. It seems unlikely that he'll be allowed to play in Miami. 

The Milwaukee Bucks (42-39) were in the fifth spot until recently. Now Atlanta has won three games in a row, including twice vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, to grab a firm hold. 

"It’s definitely weighted right now," Brooks said. "Atlanta is probably the frontrunner of who we play."

The Wizards (49-32) are just one game away from a 50-win season which has long been their goal. But the ninth-place Heat are going down to the wire for the eighth and final playoff spot with the Chicago Bulls. Both are 40-41 and have one game left.

"We might not play a lot of guys," Brooks said. "Maybe have a pseudo-practice or a shootaround for the guys who are not going to play."

With their third postseason berth in the last four seasons, Wall and Bradley Beal are the veterans on a team with the likes of Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre and Tomas Satoransky who have never been to the playoffs. Jason Smith hasn't been since 2011. Bojan Bogdanovic has gone just once. 

"We still have our focus to get 50 wins but trying definitely to stay healthy going into the playoffs without getting crazy or little petty injuries going into the playoffs. You look at and see who you’re going to play but playoffs are totally different than what the regular season is. We’ve been through that," Wall said. "We got swept before by a team (in the regular season) and gone into the playoffs and did something totally different.  You game plan different. You got to see this team seven times. We’re going to be focused. We have a lot of guys who haven’t been to the playoffs. But that’s my job as the leader and Brad’s job. Get these guys focused. Every shootaround, every practice, every game day is very important."

[RELATED: Wizards complete biggest turnaround in NBA history]

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Wizards' Markieff Morris to have surgery, miss start of training camp

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USA Today Sports

Wizards' Markieff Morris to have surgery, miss start of training camp

The Wizards will be without starting power forward Markieff Morris for the start of training camp, as Morris is due for surgery to repair a sports hernia on Friday.

The Wizards begin training camp on Tuesday, Sept. 26 in Richmond, Va. Their first preseason game is on Oct. 2 and they begin their regular season schedule on Oct. 18 at home against the Sixers. That should give Morris several weeks to recover before the season begins.

Morris, 28, is entering his third season with the Wizards and has become a key cog in their starting lineup. He averaged 14.0 points and 6.5 rebounds during the 2016-17 season, as the Wizards won 49 games and their division for the first time since the 1970s.

If he misses time, whether in the preseason or regular season, the Wizards will have to turn to backups Jason Smith and Mike Scott. Depending on the situation, it could call for more small-ball lineups with Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. playing together at the forward positions.

The Washington Post first reported the news.

[RELATED: PODCAST: CHENIER ON GETTING HIS JERSEY RETIRED]

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Tomas Satoranksy's role expand in his second year?

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USA Today Sports

Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Tomas Satoranksy's role expand in his second year?

As part of CSN's preview for the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we preview Tomas Satoransky's season...

Player: Tomas Satoransky

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

Age: 25

2016-17 stats: 57 G, 12.6 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 1.6 apg, 1.5 rpg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 41.5 FG%, 24.3 3P%, 69.7 FT%, 44.6 eFG%, 101 ORtg, 111 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Four years after the Wizards picked Satoransky in the second round of the 2012 draft, he finally joined the team for his rookie NBA season in 2016-17. A lot had changed about the Wizards roster in that time, as Satoransky joined a playoff-ready team as their third point guard.

Satoransky's rookie season saw him play inconsistent minutes and not always at point guard, the position he is most comfortable with. That may end up being his full-time role once he carves his niche in the NBA, but for now versatility to play multiple positions appears to be the key for Satoransky to earn more playing time.

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Head coach Scott Brooks has spoken about it several times this offseason and so have members of the front office. They would like to see Satoransky, who is 6-foot-7 and very athletic, to get more comfortable playing shooting guard and small forward. Basically, he needs to be more valuable off the ball. Satoransky is used to being the primary ball-handler, but with John Wall on the roster those opportunities will be always few and far between. Now with Tim Frazier in store, Satoransky remains down the depth chart.

In order to fit into the plan Brooks and others have described, Satoransky will need to continue working on his outside shooting and help defense. He can still make an impact with his passing ability and speed up and down the court even if he isn't playing point guard. It will just take an adjustment from what Satoransky has long been used to. Once he gets more comfortable, Satoransky will be fun to watch. He's one of the Wizards' most athletic players, he just hasn't been able to fully show it in NBA games.

Potential to improve: Outside shooting, scoring efficiency, defensive versatility.

MORE WIZARDS' ROSTER PREVIEWS:

Can John Wall take another step after earning All-NBA?

Is this the year Bradley Beal becomes an All-Star?

What is the next step in Otto Porter's development?

Markieff Morris can be an X-factor this season

Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?

Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

Can Ian Mahinmi make a bigger impact in his second season?

Will Tim Frazier be the solution at backup point guard?

Jodie Meeks could make big impact off bench

Mike Scott can add toughness to Wizards' bench

Jason Smith's improvement as a shooter should help Wizards bench

[RELATED: WHO WILL BE MOST-IMPROVED ON THE WIZARDS THIS YEAR?]

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