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Tom-Jerry vs. Pacers-Hawks: Wizards have time on their side before Round 2 of playoffs

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WASHINGTON - Tom vs. Jerry? Or Pacers vs. Hawks?

Washington guard Bradley Beal has a professional interest in the latter, but he was leaning toward personal preference when asked about his television viewing plans for Thursday night.

"I'll probably watch cartoons," said Beal, even though the Wizards will face either Indiana or Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs. "Probably Tom and Jerry or something."

And though the cartoon classic seems to be bit old-school for a 20-year-old, Beal quipped, "I'm an old soul."

There was no urgency for Beal to do his homework because the Wizards have time on their hands. After finishing off the Chicago Bulls in five games Tuesday night, Washington has a five-day layoff before the start of the next series.

"It gives us a chance to rest," Beal said. "We won in five games, so that's good on our part. But at the same time, we've still got to keep our legs in tune, make sure we're staying in shape and not out of condition for Monday."

Coach Randy Wittman gave his team the day off on Wednesday, and Thursday was an "individual day" for players to get in whatever work they felt they needed. Regular practice resumes Friday, with the hope that all the downtime won't stymie the momentum from the franchise's first playoff series win in nine years.

"Whether you like rest or you want to keep going, we don't have a choice," Wittman said. "We'll do what we have to do to take advantage of these days."

Beal was on the court working on shots off the dribble and 3-pointers. Drew Gooden, one of the team's older players, arrived at 9:30 a.m. and experienced a true body-maintenance day: good breakfast, cardio work, weight room, light shooting, cold tub and yoga.

Fellow veteran Marcin Gortat was asked if the challenge was to stay sharp.

"No," Gortat said, "the challenge is to heal."

As for the Wizards' next opponent, they really have no preference. If the Hawks were to finish off the Pacers in Game 6 on Thursday night, Wittman wouldn't have to prepare multiple gameplans for two completely different teams. However, if Hawks-Pacers were to go to a seventh game on Saturday, Washington would face a team fighting fatigue for a Monday Round 2 opener.

"I say we don't get too caught up in watching the game and cheering for who we want to play in the next round," Gooden said. "You saw what Brooklyn did toward the end of the regular season, trying to position themselves and fixing the cards they were dealt, and they're down a game now in the series (against Toronto). And if they do win, they've got to see Miami."

If the eighth-seeded Hawks were to prevail, the fifth-seeded Wizards would have homecourt advantage in the next round — but even that particular benefit was up for debate.

"I think we are a better road team because when we don't have our crowd, we don't have to flex and celebrate after every jump shot we make," Gortat said.

Added Gooden: "It will probably work in our favour to have home court, but it didn't work in Chicago's favour."

Whatever the locale for Game 1, the Wizards are planning a team-bonding dinner, similar to the one they had in Chicago before the Bulls series. Such outings have become a regular staple this season.

"We just hang out," Beal said. "We have more guys hanging out in groups this year than we did last year, and that definitely helps out off the court and on the court. It gets you to know guys personally a little bit more. It just brings you together as a team."


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