Key Legislature: Wizards 91 vs Cavs 78 — Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 91 vs Cavs 78 — Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

Updated: November 22, 2014


Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment for Washington Wizards contest No. 11 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers in the District, via Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) from the Verizon Center.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Conor Dirks.

We often inject our ideas about what is right and good in life into the world of basketball. Selflessness and sharing are easy to preach. By the same token, selfishness and a lack of sharing are easy to criticize. The takeaway from this game, where John Wall’s command of the action and his team’s defensive prowess were on full display, will almost certainly be that the Cavs, who looked disjointed on offense and non-existent on defense, are broken due to their personal failings. But chalking this up to a difference in sharing the ball, or some quasi-moral superiority on the part of the Wizards is reductive, and doesn’t do justice to the real strengths of this Washington team.

Just sharing the ball doesn’t make an offense go. Washington out-passed Cleveland 300-268 (a mere 1o% difference), but more importantly, the Wizards out-assisted the Cavs 24-13 (a 46% difference). All through the game, Washington’s playmaking was more purposeful, its action performed with an end in mind. It hasn’t always been the case in D.C. With a coach that, as he did in the opening minute of the third quarter of this game, is wont to say nothing at all in a timeout, and a point guard who, upon arrival, was surrounded by a team of lambs in a league of wolves, direction is relatively new. And damn, it feels good.

As TAI’s Kyle Weidie pointed out, defense is, and will be, Washington’s “pillar.” The Wizards’ scheme revolves around denying the ball on the inside, and letting perimeter shooters attempt to do damage from the outside. It’s both why guards seem to go off on the Wizards and why Washington allows so few paint points. After the Cavs game, the Wizards are allowing the second-fewest field goals within five feet of the basket in the NBA (trailing only the Golden State Warriors). While some teams force the issue, the Cavs seemed all too ready to waste six or seven seconds per possession dribbling aimlessly on the perimeter (whether it was Irving, Waiters, or James) before swinging the ball to another perimeter player, and attempting to find a few feet of space to shoot a contested jumper.

Again, it’s easy to blame this on ball-hoggy, selfish play, but that’s hardly accurate. The reality is that the Cavs may have wanted to move the ball, but had no idea how to generate movement, or find teammates in position to make a shot. It takes time to develop that—for lack of a better word—chemistry. And the Wizards knew it. Here’s Wall, who had obviously read the scouting report.


Frustrating the Cavaliers seemed to be at the top of the priority list for the Wizards. Kevin Seraphin, sweating a bit in the camera glow, beamed when asked about the game plan against Kevin Love, and admitted that the idea was for he and Nene to go directly at the stretch-4: “It’s a mismatch, so for sure we went straight up at him.”

Before both offenses ground themselves into highway salt in the fourth quarter, the game was won in the third. With the Cavs within 10 points, Wall demoralized the other side with three consecutive baskets, all of them jumpers. Concerns about the sustainability of this kind of offense aside, it’s absolutely essential to have access to this kind of shot from Wall. And while Cavs players sagged far enough off of Wall to make you question whether it was a lack of respect, a lack of effort, or a lack of awareness on their part, Wall rose up in rhythm from his favorite spot on the floor, the right elbow.

After the game, Cavs coach David Blatt called for reflection:

“First thing is that guys have to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves where and how they can impact positively and try to simplify things. You have to look and see if you can make a change or two but not recreate the wheel. You have to stay in there and show grit and get a good day to gain a yard at a time.”

When this PFTCommenter-esque sentiment was relayed to James, he shrugged his shoulders and said “Well, if you need that…” before shrugging again.

While LeBron, booed and cheered by separate sects of fans throughout the game, probably hasn’t taken enough responsibility, or been the incarnation of patience (see, these virtues are not easy to embody) he preached in Decision, Part 2: The Letter, there’s no real need for anyone to “look in the mirror.” Ask the Wizards, who spent all last season stumbling across brilliance every third or fourth game only to lose sight of what made them successful, and then find it again, and then lose it again. No one needs to head off into the woods and live alone in a cabin they built with their own two glove-less hands and stare indefinitely at an ultimately meaningless pond (other than for the tadpoles, for whom it is ESSENTIAL). Washington has emerged on the other side of all that uncertainty, dented and dinged, far from the shine of a new superteam, but with far more knowledge of each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and how they can coexist. It shows, and it’s fun to watch. Seeing Wall and Beal pass back and forth on the fast break, or watching Nene call for a cut, look away, and then toss the ball blindly to a teammate, trusting that they will be where they should be, is reflection enough.

The Wizards haven’t arrived, not yet. Things come together slowly, with balances and tweaks being made along the way. A win against the Cavaliers is, as Wall would go on to say in the locker room, “a statement.” As the final seconds ticked off the clock, and the sellout crowd that largely discarded their concern for being first in line for the departing train stood up to cheer, another box was checked off in the office of a keeper of accounts. This one was important.


The Bullets.

  • John Wall on defense, beating a big-name team, how his play differs from Kyrie Irving, and not being a one-on-one guy.
  • Paul Pierce, proclaiming “now or never,” as he strode into the middle of the locker room to address the media before an early exit, on moving on to Milwaukee: “You know, all year, it’s a long year, every time you have big emotional wins, and you come into the next game, those are the games that are trap games, and that is what I tried to tell the guys. You know those are the games that the great teams win, and it feels good and hopefully we can put this win behind us and move on because we have another test on a Milwaukee team that have been playing great.”
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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.