NBA Playoffs: 3 Washington Wizards players that could get more minutes

Washington Wizards Anthony Gill. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Anthony Gill. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

In game one of the playoffs, the Washington Wizards cut down their rotation to nine players. Ish Smith and Davis Bertans were the only non-centers to come off the bench in game one. That means that as many non-centers came off the bench (two) as centers (two) and that the Wizards used three of their nine active players in game one to fill the role of one position.

To a degree, it was warranted. The centers were in foul trouble, each had at least two personal fouls before the end of the second quarter, and the Wizards will likely need to keep rotating big bodies in and out to keep up with Joel Embiid. However, only dipping into the bench for two other players is asking a lot of the starters. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook each played 40+ minutes (which will probably continue throughout the series) while no 76ers player played more than 38.

The guys that did get minutes in game one didn’t get the job done, although they came pretty close. So it begs the question, should Scott Brooks look elsewhere on the bench? Judging by what we saw in game one: yes.

The Washington Wizards need to go to the bench to fix some of the problems they had in game one vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.

Game one had an unlikely star in Tobias Harris. While Embiid was on the bench with foul trouble, Doc Rivers turned to Harris in the first half, who picked apart the Wizards’ defense. After the Wizards made no adjustments to slow Harris down, he finished with 37 points, a new playoff-high, and the second-highest scoring total of his career. Harris has only scored more than 37 points one time, a 39-point game back in 2018 when he was with the LA Clippers.

To ensure that Harris doesn’t keep abusing the Wizards’ defense, Brooks needs to get more length out there to match the length of the 76ers. One reason Harris was so effective was that he was routinely finding himself matched up against smaller guards who he was able to shoot over or get around easily.

Luckily, the Wizards have some length that they can throw at Harris and the rest of the 76ers throughout the remainder of the series. In fact, they have three guys with length that they could use. Oddly enough, none of them got minutes in game one.

Chandler Hutchison, Anthony Gill, and Isaac Bonga are three players Scott Brooks should consider utilizing more in this series. Each would improve the Wizards’ defensive standing and hopefully help them get the stops they could not get in game one.

While each guy would help fix the problem we saw in game one, they each bring something a little different to the table. Bonga is the best defensively but is the biggest offensive liability of the three. Plus, Bonga has fallen out of the rotation the hardest. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him regularly contribute outside of garbage time. Gill didn’t really find his role on the team until late in the season but came on as a solid glue guy with some stretch four capabilities over the final month or two of the season. Hutchison is probably the most likely to see an uptick in minutes. He’s the most athletic of the three and has shown he can get to the rim, making him a little less one-dimensional than the other two options. Although not a prolific three-point shooter, Hutchison also shot the best from beyond the arc, something the Wizards need to do more than they did in game one.

Adding all three into the mix would be a bit much. The Wizards probably shouldn’t rock with a 12-man rotation in the playoffs. But sprinkling in some Hutchison here or some Gill there could help stifle a Philadelphia offense that looked far too comfortable in game one. Now, we’ll see if Brooks makes an adjustment or trusts the same guys from game one to step up in a way they didn’t in the series opener.

Next. 3 secret weapons the Wizards have at their disposal vs. 76ers. dark