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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers to take season series

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Pacers to take season series

Another season series is in the books for the Wizards after Thursday’s 111-98 win at the Indiana Pacers as they head into the All-Star break.

Otto Porter opened red hot from long range as he made all four of his three-point attempts in the first quarter en route to shooting 6-for-10 overall (game-high 25 points, eight rebounds). He was followed by Markieff Morris (21 points, seven rebounds), Bradley Beal (19 points), Marcin Gortat (12 points, seven rebounds) and John Wall posted his 35th double-double (20 points, 12 assists).

The Wizards (34-21) won the season series 3-1. They’ve also won the series with the Milwaukee Bucks 3-1, lead the Charlotte Hornets 2-0, the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks at 2-1.

Paul George (17 points) was limited to 6-for-19 shooting as he labored through the second game of a back-to-back for Indiana (29-28). Myles Turner (17 points, nine rebounds) was their best scorer with Rodney Stuckey (12 points) and Al Jefferson (12 points) being sparks off the bench.

--The difference in the outcome was three-point shooting. The Wizards, who held the Pacers to 4-for-21 shooting from three in the last meeting, kept them to 4-for-18 in this one. Conversely, they made 15 of 29 threes to tie a season-high.

[RELATED: John Wall hits and-1 layup off top of glass vs. Pacers]

--Porter’s hot hand forced the Pacers to shift George, who usually covers Beal, onto the small forward. Porter responded by beating him off the bounce and getting into the lane with floaters that were converted. It also allowed the Wizards to get Beal some relief and not have to crossmatch to get a bigger defender on George. Beal made 4 of 7 threes. There were too many fires to extinguish.

--The bench’s inability to defend well vs. the Pacers was a problem in the last meeting. Then it was a 15-for-23 second quarter, 65.2% shooting, that allowed them to flip a 33-27 deficit into a 47-38 lead over Washington. The Wizards could’ve ended this one early but repeated droughts offensively and blown defensive assignments forced the starters back in. A 13-2 run trimmed the Wizards’ lead to 97-90 with 6:42 left. The Pacers had a 39-14 edge in bench scoring, but defensively is where the group seemed to lack more than offense. To score better, they have to play better defensively.

--The Wizards had all five starters in double figures with three minutes left in the third quarter for an NBA-leading 22nd time. Wall also had his ninth consecutive double-double by then. Among guards, no one in the conference is anywhere close to Wall with total double-doubles.

--Clearly more comfortable in the offense, this was the most assertive that Ian Mahinmi (five points, four rebounds in 12 minutes) has been in playing in his fourth consecutive game. He put the ball on the floor in and went at Al Jefferson successfully in the paint. Mahinmi made both of his field-goal attempts.

--Jeff Teague (six points) can be a matchup problem for the Wizards if he's allowed to get into the paint. Wall was significantly better and didn't gamble. In the last six quarters vs. Washington, Teague has scored eight points. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Otto Porter hits buzzer-beater after shot clock malfunction]

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Will the Cavs-Celtics trade involving Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas affect the Wizards' chances at all?

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Will the Cavs-Celtics trade involving Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas affect the Wizards' chances at all?

The Cavaliers and Celtics pulled off one of the biggest NBA trades in years, if not decades, on Tuesday night, one that features two All-Star point guards in Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, a very good player in Jae Crowder, a 2016 first round pick in Ante Zizic and an unprotected 2019 Nets first round pick that could be the key to Cleveland's dreaded life after LeBron James.

Boston and Cleveland entered this offseason as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, so naturally this should affect the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference a great deal, right? Maybe not.

In fact, this could have little effect on the rest of the East whatsoever, at least in the short-term. That's because both teams got good value back for 2017-18, but neither made a significant leap when it comes to their chances of winning the title next June.

[RELATED: PODCAST - MARCIN GORTAT ON HIS SUMMER]

Yes, All-Star point guards in Irving and Thomas switched sides, and in Crowder the Cavs now have a physical defender who gives opponents fits on the perimeter. That could help the Cavs in the East and if they match up with the Warriors in the NBA Finals once again.

But the Cavs were already going to be very good and before this trade remained the odds-on favorites to win the East. They now remain the favorites and may have taken a slight step forward, as long as Thomas recovers well from the hip injury that ended his 2016-17 season.

In Irving, the Celtics get a guy with an extra year on his contract. He's four years younger than Thomas and isn't currently dealing with an injury. They have to feel good about that, plus they don't lose much in Crowder, given he plays small forward. Even without Crowder, they could have the most depth at that position in the NBA when you factor in Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown and Marcus Morris. As good as Crowder is, he could have been fighting for minutes in that group.

If the Wizards are to take a step forward or backward in the East, it will likely have nothing to do with this trade. They are counting on improving from within with a core of young players now signed to long-term contracts.

[RELATED: Ranking the top point guards in the NBA]

Overall, the Wizards' odds against the Cavs and Celtics will probably be determined by other things unrelated to this trade, like if LeBron James truly begins his decline or if the Celtics losing Avery Bradley in a previous deal will hurt their ability to stop John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

That last point could be the determining factor in whether the Wizards can leapfrog either the Cavs or Celtics. Boston lost their best answer to what is arguably the best backcourt in the East. 

This trade could, if anything, just make things more interesting for Washington fans. Now the Wizards-Celtics rivalry can center around the debate about which All-Star point guard and former No. 1 pick is better: Wall or Irving? And with the Cavs, the Wizards now have a guy in Crowder who has been a true enemy for years. That matchup just got more intriguing.

The East could be more fun next year due to this trade, but don't expect the odds in Vegas to change much at all because of it.

[RELATED: WALL WORKS OUT WITH LEBRON, TWITTER OVERRACTS]

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Cavs trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and others in blockbuster deal

Cavs trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and others in blockbuster deal

The Cavs and Celtics have pulled off one of the biggest trades the NBA has seen in years, a blockbuster deal that will send Kyrie Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 unprotected first round pick. The final deal was reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Whew, where do we start? First of all, this is the top two teams in the East, teams that met in the conference finals this spring, trading All-Star point guards for each other. It's not often you see that.

For the Celtics, they will have Irving for at least the next two seasons under his current contract. Considering Thomas' deal runs up after this year, that's good news for them.

[RELATED: THOMAS OR IRVING? ONLY ONE IS A TOP 5 PG]

That said, this is an unbelievable haul for the Cavs. Not only do they remain very good in the short-term with Thomas stepping in to fill the same role Irving did, but they get deeper with Crowder and set themselves up extremely well long-term with the Nets' pick. The Nets were the worst team in basketball this past season, the odds of them still being very bad two years from now seem good. The Cavs are in good position now even if LeBron James leaves next summer, knowing they have an extra first round pick that could be a top selection.

The first game of the NBA season, by the way, is Celtics at Cavs on Oct. 17. That should be a good one.

For the rest of the Eastern Conference, teams like the Wizards, it's hard to draw major conclusions from this deal. The Cavs were the best team in the East and have a good chance of remaining the top dogs. The Celtics gave up a lot, but they also added other pieces this offseason with Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum. Only time will tell if either got signifincatly better or worse.

Cleveland, however, does look much better off in the long run. That could affect how some view James' future, as many have speculated about whether this will be his final season with the Cavs. Now they appear to have a very sound long-term plan.

This trade will send shockwaves throughout the NBA, but may not affect the standings in the Eastern Conference very much. Still, it's a big one.

[RELATED: WALL WORKS OUT WITH LEBRON, TWITTER OVERRACTS]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE WIZARDS STORIES