Well that…was awful.
For the record, let it be known that I almost considered ending this recap after the sentence above. After all, if the Wizards don’t find it necessary to apply any effort coming off two days rest (essentially three, since we played Charlotte in the game before) I don’t see why bloggers, beat writers, fans, or anyone else should either. Covering tonight’s game was hard enough as it was. With the Cavaliers missing Kyrie Irving and Washington sans Bradley Beal, this matchup might’ve been the answer to the trivia question, “Which two NBA rosters look like they could produce the most NBDL All-Stars?” At any rate, it was safe to assume the Wizards were planning to take care of business, up 13 after the 1st quarter with John Wall, Martell Webster, and Emeka Okafor properly chugging along. What happened next is something I plan on affectionately referring to as, ‘The Great Realization’. It’s that moment where every coach realizes that his starters cannot play 48 minutes a night. And that he must bring players off his bench to enter the game and actually take part in meaningful moments. And those players have to contribute positively for the team to have a chance to win. So when seven bench players (let’s make it 8 because Garrett Temple should only start if every guard on the team forgets there’s a game that night) combine for 13 points and a stunning -28 on the floor, it makes it just a tad difficult to win, no matter who the other side has out there.
Before we get too far down this article and lose the attention span of 99% of this reader base (thanks fellow WizofAwes writers for still reading), I must give major kudos to John Wall for the game he played out there. He single handedly kept us in it all night, with the aggressive nature we’ve been begging for all season and found his teammates time and time again. It’s possible that he’s heard the backlash from his less than stimulating interview with Zach Lowe yesterday and had something to prove. Wall put in 37 minutes of work, racking up 27 points, 14 assists, and 7 rebounds. Some 3rd quarter foul trouble put him on the bench and the Cavs used this opportunity to blow the game open. Ultimately this turned out to be the pivotal point of the game, as the Wizards were never able to recover and trailed the rest of the way. By the time Washington cut the lead back down to 3 late in the 4th quarter, we did everything in their power to ensure it never got any closer. My favorite plays of that segment included a couple missed bombs from Ray Allen AJ Price, A dropped pass by Martell Webster prior to a potential corner 3, and the always lovable Nene losing a jump ball to a guard who is a few years removed from the most horrific basketball injury that most of us have ever seen. I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, John Wall – great game, sad to see it wasted.
See below for a couple key points that stood out to me during tonight’s game:
- Defensively, the Wizards showed up fair enough in the stat sheet. The rebounding battle was generally even (48-46, Cavs) and we held Cleveland to 41% shooting from the field. But too often, especially in the 2nd half, guards got loose and either got to the basket or found open guys that spotting up for jumpers or at the basket for layups. The on again/off again effort that we display on most nights may be good enough to rise up the charts of defensive ratings, but it ruins the flow of our offense and limits any leads we’re trying to extend or comebacks we’re trying to attempt.
- The Wizards are devoid of playmakers currently. We started seeing flashes of Beal being able to create offense for himself and others, but until he comes back, the list of who can do that reads like this: John Wall. To the box score again we go, to notice that Wall notched 14 assists, and of the remaining players, four of them had 1 assist, and one had 2. The offense stalls regularly because of this and we go through stretches where each possession seems to be a contest to attempt a more difficult shot than the one before it.
- I probably should impose a moratorium on myself for mentioning this, but Randy Wittman needs some serious assistance with who should and shouldn’t play in the game and when these players should be entered into the game. Unless there’s an injury I am not aware of, it is inexplicable for Garrett Temple (23 minutes) and AJ Price (21 minutes) to both play more than Trevor Ariza (12 minutes). I understand that it’s tough at the shooting guard position without Beal in the lineup and without Jordan Crawford on the roster, but there has to be a better distribution amongst the guys who can play.