The Washington Wizards looked their age in the first game of their restarted NBA season.
Whether the games count or not, the Washington Wizards haven’t been able to win while in the bubble. After going 0-3 in the exhibition games, the Wizards opened up the first of their eight seeding games with a 125-112 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
A win would have drastically improved their playoff hopes after the Brooklyn Nets fell to the Orlando Magic (an unlikely bubble ally) earlier in the day, but the Wizards were not able to capitalize and stay 6.0 games behind the now eighth place Nets.
Without Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans, the Wizards are a young group. Against the Suns, Shabazz Napier, Ish Smith, and Jerian Grant were the only Wizards over 25 years old to see the floor.
While it may be beneficial in the long run to let the rookies and second-year players figure things out without the team’s usual first, second, or third offensive option, the Wizards’ inexperience hurt them in game one of the restart.
Youth, inexperience doomed the Washington Wizards in loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Foul trouble and turnovers derailed the game for the young Wizards. Defensively, they couldn’t stop the Suns without sending them to the foul line. The Suns shot 32 free throws to the Wizards 23. By the end of the first half, the Suns had a 15 point lead and 21 points from the foul line. By the end of the game, four Wizards had at least three fouls. Ten of the eleven Wizards that played vs the Suns finished the game with at least two fouls.
Offensively, the Wizards looked stagnant and at times disoriented as players adjust to new roles and a larger responsibility.
Aside from Jerom Robinson’s team-high 20 points on 7-9 shooting, the Wizards were fairly unimpressive. Hachimura finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds, but early foul trouble limited him throughout the first half as the Suns pulled away. He also attempted 0 three-pointers, something he should be trying to improve in Orlando.
The few veterans the Wizards do have didn’t help much, either. Ish Smith and Shabazz Napier combined to go 12-31 from the field, finishing the game as the Wizards with the most and third-most shots, respectively. During a time of development, they should be looking to create for the young guys, not take over the game. And definitely not combine for seven turnovers.
As a team, the Wizards finished with 18 turnovers, a bit above what they are averaging this season (14.1 turnovers per game). But many of the turnovers were lazy and unforced, including multiple turnovers on inbound passes. Maybe it’s rust, maybe it’s inexperience, but these guys truly are developing before our eyes.
Let’s see how things go in their next bubble game, a must-win matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.
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