Opening Statements: Wizards vs 76ers, Game 42 — Lining Up Washington After 1st Half | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs 76ers, Game 42 — Lining Up Washington After 1st Half

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Updated: January 19, 2015

Washington Wizards vs Philadelphia 76ers

 

Half of the season is gone for the Washington Wizards—41 games proving who they are, 41 games left to prove who they want to be.

They’re 28-13 (.683), owners of the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They’ve played 22 games at home (17-5) and 19 on the road (11-8). At one point Washington had played the easiest schedule in the NBA, then they picked up some tough opponents. Now it’s just fourth easiest.

The Wizards rank in the top third (or so) in the league in several key categories: Defensive Rating (7), Offensive Rating (13), Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (7), Rebound Percentage (4), Effective Field Goal Percentage (8). Low rankings in Free Throw Rate (23) and Turnover Percentage (21) serve as detriments.

Washington’s over/under on wins was set at 50 before the season. Their winning percentage says their on pace to win 56. More intensive statistical projections indicate the Wizards are on pace to win 49 games.

Are the Wizards underrated, overrated, or just rated? They seem faintly capable of improving on their own merits, perfectly capable of staying afloat, and potentially crashing with a significant injury or two. Team brass will make a move to increase chances of late-season success or provide insurance at some point. At their core, the Wizards are in a strong position, but they are also inexperienced and tend to spite themselves.

As they prepare to start a second-half push, which, mentally, won’t happen until after the mid-February All-Star break but technically happens now, Washington has a laundry list of needed improvements—no doubt. The 28 games after the break will define Washington, the 13 games before the break could set their ceiling.

Limiting turnovers is something Washington can completely control. Getting to the free throw line is tougher, but attainable. A more efficient offense can be inspired by improvement in both areas—along with continued focused defense, as we are ever reminded—but this team, in its strategy, must swing toward multi-faceted offensive options being the key advantage.

Whether they’ve met them or not, expectations for Washington have been set. They should be competing for an Eastern Conference championship. There’s probably plenty of heart and veteran experience to go around, but whether the Wizards can be tactical enough remains to be seen.

Line ‘em up.

Nine lineups have played 40 or more minutes on the season. As expected, the starters are the best lineup—John Wall, Bradley Beal, Paul Pierce, Nene, and Marcin Gortat are plus-12.4 per 48 minutes; this is the second-most used lineup (260 minutes).

The most-used lineup (278 minutes) featured Kris Humphries in place of Nene with the first team. That five is minus-0.7 per 48 minutes. Humphries had been the second coming of Darius Songaila for Washington, but much better. Still, the 13.1-point difference between having Nene with the starters over Humphries speaks volumes of Nene’s value (and how lineup data really reflects cohesion).

Lineups where Humphries is paired with Gortat, Wall and Beal—along with either Rasual Butler (66 minutes) or Otto Porter (40 minutes)—yield positive impressions: plus-5.8 and plus-6.0 per 48 minutes respectively.

The worst five-man unit that Washington uses quite frequently: Andre Miller, Beal, Butler, Humphries, and Kevin Seraphin (47 minutes). They are minus-13.3 per 48 minutes.

If it’s offense that Washington needs, they might want to turn to a lineup featuring Wall, Beal, Butler, Nene, and Seraphin. Of the lineups seeing 30 or more minutes together (13), they sport the best OffRtg: 117.1.

Defensive lineups: I’ll let these numbers speak for themselves (ranked by DefRtg):

  1. 70.2 (36 mins) — Wall, Beal, Butler, Nene, Gortat

  2. 88.8 (175 mins) — Wall, Temple, Pierce, Nene, Gortat

  3. 94.1 (260 mins) — Wall, Beal, Pierce, Nene, Gortat

Only eight NBA trios hold opponents to under 93 points per 100 possessions, and the Wizards provide four of those combinations. Ranked by DefRtg:

  1. 91.7 — Pierce, Nene, Gortat

  2. 91.7 — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut

  3. 91.8 — Curry, Harrison Barnes, Bogut

  4. 92.2 — Wall, Nene, Gortat

  5. 92.2 — Wall, Pierce, Nene

  6. 92.4 — James Harden, Donatas Motiejunas, Dwight Howard

  7. 92.6 — Darren Collison, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins

  8. 92.8 — Wall, Beal, Nene

[Stats via NBA.com/stats and Basketball-Reference.com]


Teams: Wizards vs 76ers
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 14 points.


#1. Philly Freeway.

Philadelphia has won four out of their last eight games (wins coming against Cleveland, Brooklyn, Indiana, and New Orleans; losses coming against Milwaukee, Atlanta, Toronto, and Detroit). They sport an 8-32 record and are NOT the worst team in the NBA. That honor goes to the Knicks, then the Timberwolves, and then the 76ers. The over/under on 76ers wins set by Bovada before the season was 15.5. Philadelphia has played the fifth toughest schedule to date, so there’s a solid chance they can break their betting ceiling.

#2. Fat Joel.

The 76ers, who had the second worst NBA record last season, slipped to the third pick in the 2014 draft. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, center Joel Embiid, whom many figured could have been the top pick, slipped to third. Going into the draft, there were injury concerns with Embiid, so Cleveland was figured to be picking between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker with Milwaukee landing the player who was left over (which ended up being Parker). Nabbing Embiid as a consolation prize had its potential flaws, especially since Philadelphia drafted center Nerlens Noel the year before.

Now, reports are surfacing out of Philly that Embiid has let himself get fat while sitting out with a foot injury, ballooning up to 300 pounds, getting in arguments with the team strength coach, and being sent home from a recent West Coast trip.

Remember fat John Wall? That turned out to be no big deal. Then again, fat big man are another story. From Kevin Duckworth to Andray Blatche, Washington could probably offer Philly some words of warning, such as PUTTING CHEESE WHIZ ON CHEESESTEAK SANDWICHES HAS TO BE ONE BIG JOKE, RIGHT?

#3. B/W Party-way.

Let’s hope the Wizards have a full boat of energy today. Seems that Bradley Beal and John Wall hosted a party last night—Beal was inviting people to “Come through !!!!” at midnight. Monday holiday games with a 2 p.m. start could be just as much a trap as Sunday games, in which the Wizards are 9-20 over Wall’s career with the team.

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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 currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.