Commentary and links …
You’ll often hear NBA coaches, especially Flip Saunders, exclaim (perhaps complain) about two things in explanation of their team’s faults: injuries and lack of practice time. Well, with three days off since their last game, along with the report that all 15 Wizards practiced for the first time this season yesterday, there will be little room for excuses as the team travels to Philadelphia tonight to seek their first road win of the season against the 76ers. Stay tuned …
Playing Down Defense?
On Monday the Washington Post’s Michael Lee had a good story about the Wizards’ improved defense since the Gilbert Arenas trade. Now, I’ll take a look at an additional level of defensive statistics.
As Lee wrote, before the trade the Wizards were giving up 105.8 points per game and after, 91 points per game. Since different opponents play at a different pace, thus the possessions in a game will fluctuate, we’ll look at points scored per 100 possessions* as a more balanced factor. Before the trade, the Wizards gave up 109.8 points per 100 possessions, and 96.7 after. So, the difference in pre- and post-trade points per game is 14.8; the difference in points given up per 100 possessions is 13.0.
Interestingly enough, before the trade, the current cumulative winning percentage of Washington’s opponents is an even .500; post trade opponents now have a .579 winning percentage.
Furthermore, on the entire season, the Wizards have played 16 games against 10 different opponents with a current winning percentage of .500 or better — Atlanta (2), Boston, Chicago (2), LA Lakers (2), Miami (2), New Orleans, New York Knicks (2), Orlando (2), Portland and San Antonio — they’ve only won one of those games (a home contest versus the Blazers). Against those teams, the Wizards have given up 107.7 points per 100 possession on defense. Understandable.
The Wizards have played six games against four different teams with records currently below .500 but .400 or above — Houston (2), Indiana (2), Memphis and Phoenix. Washington’s record in those games is 3-3 and they’ve allowed those teams to score 101.6 points per 100 possessions.
Now here comes the part that would seemingly indicate that the Wizards are good at playing down to an opponent (or at least maintaining a status quo of poor play versus these opponents). Washington has played 10 games against seven different teams with winning percentages below .400 — Toronto (2), Philadelphia (2), Charlotte (2), Detroit, New Jersey, Sacramento and Cleveland. Their record in those games is 4-6 and they allow those lower-echelon opponents to score 107.9 points per 100 possessions … which is at a better efficiency than the Wizards allow the best teams to score against them.
Sounds like a team that needs to get better motivated against weaker opponents. And again, as noted, tonight is as good of a time as ever … it will be a test for the Wizards worth some extra scrutiny.
*Using this equation: PP100P = (100 x points scored) / ((FGA – O-Rebs) + TO + (.436 x FTA))
Congrats to JaVale McGee … who will reportedly be in this year’s dunk contest with Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka and Brandon Jennings. First Wizards/Bullet in the contest ever? It’s about time.
Andrew Unterberger is traveling the North American territory and is surveying/reviewing all NBA arenas for The Score/The Basketball Jones. He recently took a trip to D.C. for the December 29 Wizards-Pacers game. I sat down with Andrew before the game and answered some of his questions while he took a ton of notes. One thing that surprised him, which surprised me that he didn’t know (maybe it’s my Beltway Mentality), but Andrew asked about which team dominates the sports landscape in Washington. I, of course, told him Redskins first, second and third. “Even bigger than the Caps?,” he queried? “Yes,” I easily answered. Even if the Caps win a title, or two, or three, I really can’t imagine a day where the Redskins don’t drive the sports discussion in this city. Go check out Andrew’s report, it’s good, fair and accurate.
[The Basketball Jones]
Kirk Hinrich’s athletic glasses will undoubtedly become a big part of the bloggable lore for the Wizards/Bullets franchise … they are much more meaningful than Mike Miller’s greasy blond pony-tail thing from last season.
[DC Sports Bog]
You thought NBA teams were banning gambling on team flights after the Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton thing? Evidently not the Memphis Grizzlies … because Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo seemingly got in a fight over a gambling debt from playing the very same card game, Boo-Ray, that Arenas and Crittenton participated in. Evidently, it was Mayo who owed Allen money … perhaps Tim Floyd can help out here.
Caron Butler in good spirits after suffering a season-ending knee injury.
[Ball Don't Lie]