NBA Playoffs: Three-point struggles are sinking the Washington Wizards

Another playoff game, another blowout loss for the Washington Wizards. After seemingly everything went wrong in game two, and the Wizards lost by 25-points, it got even worse in game three. Returning home to Capital One Arena did not help the Wizards bounce back, and they dropped game 3 by a score of 132-103. The Wizards are now one loss away from the offseason.

It’s becoming quite clear that the Washington Wizards are quite simply overmatched by the Philadelphia 76ers. They’re winning all the major matchups, whether on the floor or on the sidelines. Most importantly, the 76ers are winning the three-point battle…handily.

Throughout the regular season, the Philadelphia 76ers were one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA and one of the best teams defending against the three. They ranked in the top ten in each category and shot 37.4 percent from beyond the arc while holding opponents to 36.0 percent. Unfortunately, the Wizards were not nearly as good around the perimeter. During the regular season, they shot 35.1 percent (23rd) while their opponents shot 36.9 percent (19th).

The Washington Wizards can’t make a three-pointer against the 76ers. There’s no way they’re stealing a game from the 76ers if they can’t start hitting from deep.

In the playoffs, Philly’s advantage along the three-point line has been impossible to ignore. To their credit, the Wizards shot pretty well from three. They made eight of their 20 attempts. However, over the next two games, the Wizards only made ten total three-point attempts. Here’s how the two teams compare through three games…

  • Game 1 — Wizards: 8/20; 76ers: 10/32
  • Game 2 — Wizards: 2/22; 76ers: 9/21
  • Game 3 — Wizards: 8/35; 76ers: 17/33
  • Series (three games) — Wizards: 18/77; 76ers: 36/86

Through three games, the Wizards are shooting 23.4 percent from deep while the 76ers are shooting an insane 41.9 percent. The Wizards just haven’t had any answers.

Another way to contextualize the three-point struggles: the 76ers have three players that, combined, have made more three’s than the entire Wizards team. Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris have been blistering from deep this series and have made 21 total threes on only  45 shots.

While the 76ers are dropping this barrage of long-range buckets on the Wizards, the Wizards are clanking three after three after three. Besides Rui Hachimura, who has made five of his six three-point attempts this series, no other Wizard is shooting above 30 percent from three-point territory.

Davis Bertans (29.4 percent) has been massively disappointing in his first season postseason with the Wizards. Bradley Beal has been a scoring machine but unable to find a rhythm from deep (15.0 percent). And the Wizards’ other most dangerous shooter, Garrison Mathews, has been stuck to the bench and has registered only 14 minutes this series, mostly in garbage time.

As of May 30, the Wizards have the worst three-point percentage among the 16 playoff teams. They’re the only team shooting below 25 percent from three in the playoffs through the May 29 games. Give the 76ers credit. Their perimeter defense and length make it incredibly hard for the Wizards to find space and get open looks along the three-point arc. Make no mistake. They’re the ones causing this.

The Wizards scored 76 points in the paint in game one, the most by any playoff team since the NBA started tracking the stat in 1996. It didn’t matter, though, as the 76ers were still able to eke out a victory. Since then, they haven’t looked back. In today’s NBA, the three-ball is king, and the 76ers are teaching the Wizards that one rout at a time.