Wizards hoping for turnover-light outing in Charlotte

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Wizards hoping for turnover-light outing in Charlotte

After five days and eight overall practices, the Washington Wizards take the lessons and play designs they have learned on the road for Sunday's preseason opener at Charlotte. Here's what you need to know about the first of eight exhibition games before the regular season opener on Oct. 30 at Cleveland...

Watch those turnovers: Seeing as the game is not televised, I asked Wizards coach Randy Wittman following Saturday's practice's what those of box score-only analyzers should be on the lookout for against the Bobcats. Like a springy defender anticipating an incoming pass, Wittman jumped my question.

"Turnovers," Wittman exclaimed, sounding a like a coach not willing to participate in a second straight season where the team averages 15.3 miscues per game. "Obviously that's got to be one of the areas that we this year. That number has got to come down a lot for us to be successful. You're always going to have someone what to run and push the ball like we want to but its still got to come down.

"That's probably my number one concern. It always is. We threw the ball all over this gymnasium Tuesday morning so, I'm hoping that doesn't happen."

With John Wall (knee) sidelined and Jannero Pargo (abdominal strain) having missed the previous two days worth of practices, the primary ball handling and push the pace responsibilities fall to A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack.

"I don't think we have any pressure," said Price, one of the several players expected to make their Wizards debut on Sunday. "Our job is simple: just not to turn it over. That's the only thing we have to be concerned with, not to turn the ball over. We don't necessarily have to score. We don't have to really rebound. We don't really have to do anything but not turn the ball over, make sure we get into our sets and we get good shots every time down."

To this point in his first training camp as Wizards head coach, Wittman has been pleased with the work done, the effort provided. Now comes the first opportunity to gauge whether the lessons learned (or at least taught) have sunk in.

"I just want to see a carryover of what we've put in and our execution of it both offensively and defensively," Wittman said. "We've got a long way to go still with what we're going to add, that's my main thing. On the flight back here to George Mason I want to look at the film and say 'oh that's petty good carryover' or it's not and we've got to get right back in here and get to work. That's what I'm looking for."

The Wizards return to George Mason University Monday and Tuesday for the final two days of the formal portion of training camp.

Beal vs. MKG: Wizards rookie Bradley Beal's de facto NBA debut comes against a team sporting another first-year player he's quite familiar with. One pick before Washington selected the University of Florida shooter, Charlotte tabbed another Southeastern Conference stud, Kentucky's grinding small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

"Im pretty sure were going to guard each other," the 19-year-old Beal said. "Hes a competitor and I love playing against him because he never takes it easy on anybody. I mean Im real close friends with him, but that doesnt mean anything to him. He just wants to beat you, he wants to be competitive, he wants to be the best that he can be.

During his one season at Florida, Beal faced Kentucky three times. After shooting 6-for-25 in the first two games, the 6-foot-4 Beal turned in arguably his best game of the season against the Wildcats during the SEC Tournament, finishing with 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists and sank 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

"So, whenever I match up against him, its always a competitive battle. I love his game. I love the way he plays. I love his heart and passion and how hard he plays. I just have to be able to retaliate and hopefully play better than him."

Wittman is simply looking forward to seeing Beal play when the lights come on.

"I want to see what he can do," Wittman said. "As (for) what he's done here these five days and if any of that carried over into a game like situation against another team, that's all I'm concerned about right now as we move forward. I want to see where we're at retain wise and how we execute from where we're been."

While Beal's thoughts are focused on the upcoming events in Charlotte, the St. Louis native confidently offered a prediction for a certain National League Divisional Series that kicks off today in his hometown.

"Cardinals. Thats all Im going to say," Beal said as St. Louis hosts the Nationals for two games before the series shifts to Washington on Wednesday. "Im trying to actually go to the game, if were free. Itll be a close series. I know the Nationals are good, but I still got the Cardinals."

As for whether he caught any of the Cardinals playoff win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday, Beal cracked, "I knew they were going to win, so there was no point in watching."

Charlotte who?: Last season the 20-win Wizards finished 4-0 against the Bobcats. They weren't the only ones to find that winning feeling against a Charlotte team that underwent significant changes this offseason after a seven-win campaign and finishing with the lowest winning percentage in NBA history. Former St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap was named head coach while the roster shakeup included the additions of NBA veterans Ben Gordon and Brendan Haywood along with Kidd-Gilchrist.

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Caps get the rematch they were hoping for

Caps get the rematch they were hoping for

Last season left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth in Washington. The Caps dominated the regular season, wrapping up the Presidents’ Trophy for the top record in the NHL by late March with seven games still remaining.

And yet, once again, Washington’s regular season success did not translate to the playoffs. The Caps met the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and were eliminated in six games.

RELATED: Why Eller may be the key to beating the Penguins

Now, however, Washington will get a chance to erase the sting of last year’s loss in a second-round rematch with the Penguins.

“We were disappointed last year,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “First thing that you thought was about coming back and playing them again and here we are. Maybe not a surprise, but it's going to be a good match up. They're a good team, they're the Stanley Cup champs so it will be a really good match and we're excited about it.”

“Pittsburgh's a rivalry team, knocked us out last year,” T.J. Oshie said. “You don't need much more motivation to get started here.”

In the team’s 41 seasons, Washington has advanced past the second round of the postseason only twice and have failed to do so in the Alex Ovechkin era. Much of their playoff troubles have come at the hands of the same team they now prepare to face.

In the franchise’s 27 playoff appearances, this will be the 10th time Washington and Pittsburgh have met. Washington has gone only 1-8 in their previous nine meetings.

For a team looking to overcome its previous playoff history, it seems almost necessary to have to go through Pittsburgh.

“There's a history with the Penguins,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “I think it's fitting that we have to go through the Penguins at some point. Got to change the narrative hopefully this year and that's what we intend to do.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz calls Hornqvist a guy who 'conveniently will fall on your goalie'

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!

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Five things to watch during the NFL draft while waiting for the Redskins to pick

Five things to watch during the NFL draft while waiting for the Redskins to pick

The Redskins have the 17th pick in tonight’s first round. Things get underway when the Browns go on the clock at about 8 p.m. There are 10 minutes allotted between picks. If each team takes the maximum time the Redskins will pick sometime after 11 p.m. However, picks are usually in with a few minutes to spare so Washington will go on the clock sometime between 10 and 10:30.

So, what is there to watch for until then? In what everything thinks will be one of the wildest and most unpredictable first rounds in recent memory, here are five places where the decisions made could have ripple effects back to pick No. 17.

No. 1, Browns—The steaming hot rumor that has popped up in the last 24 hours is that QB Mitchell Trubisky, not DE Myles Garret, will be the top pick in the draft. Of course, that talk could be a steaming pile of, well, what comes out of the south end of a bull. If the Browns do go with Trubisky, who was expected to remain on the board through the first five picks, there could be a run on quarterbacks in the top half of the draft, with teams maneuvering to get their guy. That could push a solid defensive player back to the Redskins.

No. 4, Jaguars—Nobody is quite sure what is going on here. Leonard Fournette is the chalk pick but this is the team that drafted Blake Bortles completely out of the blue in the top five a few years ago. They have spent a lot of draft capital and free agent money on defense. They may be ready to move on from Bortles so a QB is a possibility, a move that would start or, if Trubusky goes to the Browns at No. 1, continue a run on quarterbacks.

RELATED: Final NFL Mock Draft

No. 8, Panthers—In a draft that is supposedly unpredictable, the constant in mock drafts over the last 10 days or so has been Christian McCaffrey to Carolina. It almost seems to be too simple to be true, especially if the top seven picks are loaded with surprises. The Panthers have plenty of needs and if they have a top safety or linebacker fall into their laps they could well bypass McCaffrey. That would put him in play for the Redskins at 17.

No. 13, Cardinals—We go back to quarterbacks here. Will the Cardinals, who have plenty of needs, take a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech to groom to replace Carson Palmer? If they do, that could force the a QB-needy team picking later in the first such as the Texans to move up to make sure they aren’t left out. That could have them on the phone to Ashburn offering their second-round pick to entice the Redskins to move down to No. 25.

MORE REDSKINS: Final Redskins mock: Defense goes 1-2, surprise in the third 

No. 16, Ravens—Picking immediately in front of the Redskins, the Ravens also have needs everywhere. Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster seem like the type of player the Ravens like so there is the possibility that the Redskins could see a very good player at a top area of need slide back towards them only to get snatched up one pick prior to them going on the clock. The good news may be that many analysts have Baltimore addressing wide receiver or offensive line at No. 16 and those positions are not likely to be of high interest to the Redskins in the first round.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.