Key Legislature: Wizards 101 vs Maccabi Haifa 95, Preseason Gm 5 — Seraphin, Silas & Yung Simba Shine | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 101 vs Maccabi Haifa 95, Preseason Gm 5 — Seraphin, Silas & Yung Simba Shine

Updated: October 16, 2014

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment for Washington Wizards preseason contest No. 5 versus Israel’s Maccabi Haifa in D.C., via Kyle Weidie in attendance at the Verizon Center.

[Yung Simba: Otto P.orter. #Wizards. -- via]

[Yung Simba: Otto P.orter. #Wizards. — via]

DC Council Key Legislature

by Kyle Weidie.

For observers, fans, and pixel producers, Wednesday night’s game was as close as you can get to a preseason tipping point. The beginning came via an opening thriller in Chicago, a budding rivalry reunited and a Bulls crowd worthy of the regular season. There were unseen games in Jacksonville (versus the now Pelicans old Hornets) and Greenville (versus the now Hornets old Bobcats)—Wizards preseason: an age of radio enlightenment for some, renaissance for others. (Also: Bradley Beal got hurt in one of those games.) There was a fun, sort of competitive matchup against foe Detroit in Washington last Sunday. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Then there was Wednesday night’s home game against Israeli pro basketball team Maccabi Haifa. Not to belittle the opponent—they almost beat a depleted Wizards team—but the game, the atmosphere, and continued angst about the unscathed sent a strong signal: it’s about time for the preseason to be over.

Not entirely true. With mounting injuries, the Wizards need all the time they can get. Glen Rice, pegged as Bradley Beal’s replacement for the next six weeks (or so), landed on an opponent’s foot after contesting a shot in the third quarter. He sprained his right ankle and missed the rest of the night. He is, of course, day-to-day, and ambled out of the training room on crutches, later leaving in a walking boot.

Randy Wittman rested Nene and Paul Pierce against Maccabi Haifa and afterward said that he’d planned to give both John Wall and Marcin Gortat limited minutes. Wall played all 12 first-quarter minutes and that was it. Gortat played 18.5 minutes spread out over the first three quarters. Otto Porter, Kevin Seraphin, Xavier Silas, Andre Miller, and Rasual Butler led the Wizards in court time. Martell Webster, Kris Humphries and Beal continued to sit out with injuries, so five others saw action.

“It was a good game for that,” said Wittman about his cast of mixed bags, “to get some big minutes for guys that haven’t had an opportunity. Coming down the stretch of the game, you couldn’t really plan it any more to have some end-of-the-game situations for some of these guys that a lot of them haven’t been in.”

The Wizards needed two slashing buckets from the 27-year-old Damion James down the stretch (both set up by the 38-year-old Miller), sandwiching a lucky double-clutch baseline shot by the 21-year-old Porter, to finish Maccabi for the 101-95 win. Young Seraphin (24), elder Butler (35), and midlife hopeful Silas (26), also saw heavy fourth quarter action.

Don’t tell the coach to end the preseason, he’s still got judgments to make, and more importantly, issues to sort out.

“I’m still trying to figure out who’s going to play in rotations and stuff of that nature, so these three games are important in terms of me trying to see if we’re going to keep an extra guy, a 15th guy,” said Wittman afterward, fully in consideration of Rice’s currently bum ankle.

The minutes, and verbal tea leaves, displayed Wittman’s preferences du jour. Silas, Butler, and more time for Porter were mentioned by the coach in that order upon being asked to assess team injuries and that last roster spot.

It such didn’t look like an easy game to coach. Wittman agonized over the details until the end. What head coach at the top level doesn’t? Afterward Wittman admitted that he didn’t think his team was mentally ready in the first half—a familiar scenario from last season—but got it going in the second half. The Wizards won the first quarter 29-25, but allowed Maccabi to hit two 3s in the last 40 seconds to keep it close. Wall seemed concentrated on staying in front of his man on defense and distributing the ball at the right moments, but the team offense looked disjointed. Shot attempts either seemed an exercise in individualism, or the attempted execution of team schemes were so letter-of-the-law that any fluidity was sucked out. The ball was shared more in the second quarter (seven Wizards assists to two turnovers), but most shots were either difficult attempts or open ones that simply did not go down. Maccabi shot 4-for-7 from deep in the second quarter, while the Wizards shot 0-for-7, and the visitors won the period 30-25, taking a 55-54 lead into half. Rice led first half efforts with 11 points and Seraphin chipped in 10 off the bench.

Ten Wizards saw action in the second half, including Rice before getting hurt as well as brief cameos from Blair and Gortat. The efforts were led by a mix of young and old, as mentioned. Porter, aka “Yung Simba,” displayed his well-rounded game, filling the stat sheet with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals, zero turnovers, and he sent an Anton Shoutvin layup attempt several rows into the stands. Nasty.

Kevin Seraphin was the darling of the night, contributing 18 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench—he even attempted eight free throws, making six. He has never attempted more than six free throws in a regular season game over his four-year career. Still a physical specimen despite losing weight and purportedly being in better condition, Seraphin punished opponents several inches shorter and as many as 40 pounds lighter. He needs to do the same against real competition (and did so to an extent in the previous game versus Andre Drummond). It’s long been known that Seraphin can score with a soft touch, but rebounding and earning trips to the line have been major issues. Those boxes were checked on Wednesday.

“He’s slowing down. The game’s slowing down for him a little bit,” said Wittman after the game when asked what Seraphin is now doing more consistently. “He still needs to slow down even more because he gets going 100 miles per hour, and that can happen at both ends of the floor. And when he gets racing like that, that’s when he gets himself into some trouble.

“When he reads and takes his time, whether it’s the score or the pass … he found some nice kick-outs tonight when they tried to double-team him, and that’s been a problem of his—No. 1, recognizing he’s being double-teamed and No. 2 reading the situation. It’s coming, ‘cause he’s a kid that’s got great energy. You always see him bouncing around out there. He’s calming down, but that’s still a process he needs to go through.”

Seraphin had a chance to respond to his coach’s comments. “It’s my fifth year, so I’m trying to get there by watching guys like Nene play, and Marcin, but especially Nene,” said Seraphin. “I’m a young player, I still have a lot to learn, so that’s what I’m doing right now.”

In a qualifying offer contract year, Seraphin now has one season to show that he’s no longer young.

Along with Seraphin, free agent Xavier Silas has been the first off the bench over the last two games. Silas was in last season’s Wizards training camp and also played on their most recent Las Vegas Summer League team. The Wizards are giving him a serious look for the last roster spot and Wednesday was a significant audition.

“He’s kind of a guy that can spread the floor. He’s got great confidence in himself, goes out there, make or miss, he’s not fretting it. And I like that in a guy in that position,” said Wittman about the 6-foot-5 guard who has just two NBA appearances under his belt (with the 76ers in 2011-12).

Silas wasn’t on fire from deep (just 3-for-12 on the night), but is certainly more of a threat than Garrett Temple and could even be a more reliable ball handler than Temple in a pinch. Over three preseason games Silas is 8-for-24 from long range (33.3%). With both Beal and Webster out, and with the departure of Trevor Ariza to Houston, 3-point shooting could be a major concern for the Wizards. Pierce, Porter and Rice are capable shooters from distance, but none are of the traditional, “spot-up and knock-down” variety.

“He’s got to show me that he can solidly do the things that we want to get done from a defensive standpoint, too,” said Wittman about Silas. “He’s got good energy, flies around … now he’s got to figure out what we’re doing from a defensive standpoint and take steps there.”

“Defensively, I think I did way better, didn’t have as many mistakes. That felt a lot better,” Silas told me afterward, speaking of the area which could make-or-break his chances with the team.

“I think just staying on the guy’s body, locking and trailing. Really just chasing everything instead of trying to shoot gaps or cheat over to certain spots. And I think that I made a point to not cheat all night, and I don’t think I did. I’m going to come and watch film in the morning and see, but I think I did pretty good.”

And about all those missed 3-point attempts? He made two early, went cold missing his next six, made his third to tie the game with just under 10 minutes left, and then missed his final three chance. Most were open spot-up attempts and came within the offense.

“Witt hasn’t said anything to me about any of the shots,” said Silas. “I think they were all good shots. I was just talking to Andre Miller and he was saying that they’re good shots, keep shooting them and that they’ll fall. I think everyone has confidence that they’ll fall eventually.”

Eventually—the word could certainly be incorporated into a team motto for these Wizards.

The Wizards will round out the preseason by hosting Charlotte at the Verizon Center this Friday, by playing New Orleans in the Baltimore Arena next Monday, and by playing in Madison Square Garden versus the Knicks on Wednesday, October 22.

There have been important signs of individual development leading up to real basketball action, but displays of poor offensive execution continue to be the No. 1 concern on the minds of Wizards brass. That and trying to make it through the last three games without adding any names to the injury report.

The Bullets.

  • Wittman, when asked about team expectations upon drafting Otto Porter, being that he is more of a utility guy as opposed to a flashy play-maker: “We picked him third, he better get me something.”
  • And more Witt on Otto: “Once we can get some more ‘Froot Loops’ in him, maybe he can slide to the 4 at some point in his career.”
  • Over the last two preseason games, the casual in appearance but ever so calculating Andre Miller has tallied 17 assists to just one field goal attempt (a miss).
  • The announced attendance at the Verizon Center was 10,923. I wish they defined “attendance” like that when I was in school. At best, 3,000-to-4,000 people were on hand.
  • Later, money-maker.
[Preseason #WittmanFace: grab the mic, grab the water, and hold on for dear life. -- via]

[Preseason #WittmanFace: grab the mic, grab the water, and hold on for dear life. — via]

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.