The Washington Wizards will lose a lot of games this year. Everyone came into the season not only accepting that fact but also finally embracing the decision to rebuild. No one was expecting the Wizards to beat the full-strength Boston Celtics, but simply giving up and not putting up a fight is unacceptable.
Throughout the 82-game schedule, the Wizards will be overmatched plenty of times this season. It will be especially tough if they are short-handed like they were against the Celtics last night. They can’t afford too many absences, especially in their frontcourt rotation. Yet, the Wizards still need to play the right way and compete. That’s what was missing last night.
Kyle Kuzma noticing the lack of competitive spirit is a good start. But, as one of the leaders of the team, it starts with him. Kuzma and Poole have to lead this team with their effort and intensity. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. needs to be able to get that out of them as it is one of his primary responsibilities as a head coach. Not seeing the required energy and hustle from either player in a marquee matchup was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Celtics game.
In the first half of the game, aka the only semi-competitive portion of the game, the Wizards were outworked in every hustle category. Boston had more deflections, more steals, more blocks, and more offensive rebounds than the Wizards, despite being the older team and playing away from home. Moreover, Washington took too many ill-advised shots without putting the effort to get a better look and gave up penetration way too easily without any resistance on the defensive end.
There can be a talent and experience disparity between teams in the NBA. The only way a less talented team can compete with a better team is by competing harder. If the Wizards are not going to be outworking their opponent night in and night out, they are not going to win too many games.