Bradley Beal says Wizards will make the playoffs

15 Comments

The Wizards are off to their worst start in franchise history. Still winless after 11 games puts them at the bottom of the league’s standings and power rankings across the web (including ours).

Despite this awful start, rookie Bradley Beal thinks his Wizards will make the playoffs:

“We’re 0-11 but we still have 71 more games,” Beal said following Saturday night’s double-overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. “It’s still a long season and we still have an opportunity to get over .500.

“That’s our goal and we need to shoot for it. Just try to get in the playoffs. I mean, we’re going to make it. I have faith in this team and I think we’re more than capable of doing it.”

In one respect, you have to love the confidence. Theoretically, there’s nowhere to go but up for the hapless Wizards and in an Eastern Conference where it’s still the Heat and then everyone else, there will be playoff spots up for grabs at the bottom of the bracket.

Plus, with Nene now back from injury and John Wall hopefully back from his before the new year, the Wizards will be adding quality players to their roster. Those two can be the anchors for a strong push that sees them get some much needed wins.

That said, the Wizards are still looking at a steep uphill climb to be in contention for even an 8th seed. Right now the Celtics are sitting in that last playoff spot and they’re two games over .500 at 8-6. To think the Wizards can win at a high enough clip to even come close to a .500 record by the end of the season is wishful thinking even with 71 games left on the docket.

But I give Beal credit. At least he believes in his team.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
2 Comments

Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

Leave a comment

The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

Leave a comment

Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

Leave a comment

In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.