DC Council 80: Wizards vs Hawks — One Playoff Team Rests, Another Tinkers | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council 80: Wizards vs Hawks — One Playoff Team Rests, Another Tinkers

Updated: April 13, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Game No. 80: Washington Wizards
versus the Atlanta Hawks in Washington.
Contributor: Kyle Weidie from the Verizon Center.


Before the game, as part of an ongoing investigation into a changing NBA (and precluded by a question regarding what Drew Gooden, stretch 4, has done for the Wizards lately), I asked Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer if, in essence, he sees a future NBA where having a big man who can stretch the floor to the 3-point line on the roster would almost be a requirement. His answer:

“It’s an interesting question, I want to be careful not to say it’s a ‘requirement’ or that you have to do things a certain way. It comes down to really good players, and over the course of time I’ve had a lot of battles with Memphis in particular, who has two incredibly talented and incredibly good bigs who do not stretch the floor and go to the 3-point line. So I don’t think there’s one way to play or to have success. I think there’s a lot of teams that are playing with bigs who can shoot 3s and spread the court. At times San Antonio has two traditional bigs, but ultimately you have to have good players and find a way that works for them. You just take advantage of what you have.”

So, for the very first basket of the game in Washington, Atlanta’s Dennis Schröder used a screen from Elton Brand to get spacing on the left wing. Bradley Beal and Nene, in guarding the action and helping contain the quick Schröder, also gave the relatively non-shooting point guard plenty of space. However, a problem occurred when either Nene was slow to recover to Brand, or Marcin Gortat over-helped on Brand, or both. Schröder kicked the ball to center Mike Muscala at the top of the arc; John Wall showed help to bother Muscala but quickly recovered to John Jenkins, a more traditional shooter, on the right wing. The 6-foot-11 Muscala was left wide open for a 3-pointer, which he hit. Muscala is now 8-for-20 on 3s over 38 games on the season (he was 0-3 as a rookie last season). And, as part of filling in for an injured Paul Millsap and starting Atlanta’s last four games, Muscala is 7-for-12 on 3-pointers since March 27. As four-year player at Bucknell University, he went 21-for-67 from college 3-point range over his career.

You take advantage of what you have, according to Mike Budenholzer. And more and more, it seems, teams will be taking advantage of big men who can sink a shot worth 50 percent more than a two-pointer. That play:

Otherwise, the Wizards won and stuff. After taking a double-digit lead over the Hawks with 3:37 left in the first quarter, Washington cruised to the finish line: Atlanta creeped back within single-digits (9 points) for a grand total of 88 seconds over the course of the rest of the game (mostly toward the end).

Afterward, Randy Wittman primarily focused on the chance he got to tinker with lineups he hasn’t used much before, mostly lineups that featured Nene at the 5 spot next to either Kris Humphries or Drew Gooden.

Nene has played more minutes when paired with 10 different Wizards (or ex-Wizards), including Andre Miller and Ramon Sessions, than he has as a duo with either Humphries (107 minutes, +7 total) or Gooden (67 minutes, -33 total). Makes sense, as Nene has not historically been bashful when communicating his preference not to play the center position, where his body will receive more wear and tear. Just over 13 percent of Nene’s minutes with Gooden on the year came against Atlanta (-1) and just under five percent of his minutes with Humphries (-2).

These five-man units saw action against the Hawks:

  • Sessions-Beal-Porter-Gooden-Nene lineup saw nine minutes versus Atlanta and has totaled 15 minutes on the season (-8).
  • Sessions-Beal-Porter-Humphries-Nene lineup saw three minutes versus Atlanta (-4) and that’s the only time they played together all year.
  • Wall-Pierce-Porter-Humphries-Nene lineup saw two minutes versus Atlanta and has totaled six minutes on the season (+2).
  • Wall-Beal-Porter-Humphries-Nene lineup saw less than a minute versus Atlanta and has totaled 12 minutes on the season (+5).

These lineups did not see action versus Atlanta but have seen action on the season otherwise:

  • Wall-Beal-Pierce-Humphries-Nene lineup has totaled 20 minutes on the season (+1).
  • Wall-Beal-Porter-Pierce-Nene lineup has totaled eight minutes on the season (+3).
  • Wall-Sessions-Beal-Gooden-Nene lineup has totaled seven minutes on the season (-6).

And with that theater of small sample sizes, let’s grade…


Atlanta Hawks



Box Score

Washington Wizards


Nene Hilario, PF

27 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +4 +/-

Nene went through the motions early, as if he was simply playing for exercise (and to get his midrange jump shot going). Sometimes it seemed like he was willingly slow to recover, punting some aspects of defense but still knowing when to be relatively in the right position. In the second quarter, however, he took an accidental elbow to the chops from a driving Dennis Schröder. Afterwards, Nene started rebounding like he cared, notching 10 total (just his third double-digit rebound game of the season) and four offensive boards, which was a season-high. Oh, Nene has also now played in 67 games, the sixth-highest total of his 13-season NBA career.

#AngryNene was sometimes on display, as was the prerequisite flailing and complaints to the officials over calls and non-calls. He played almost reluctantly but sucked it up enough to accept the challenge. During portions of the game Nene could be seen with a wrap over his ailing right shoulder and/or with his right shoe off, keeping one of his plantar fasciitis warm atop a heating pad. Nene is definitely the type to ensure his teammates and others notice when he plays with bumps and bruises.

Paul Pierce, SF

29 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +17 +/-

Paul Pierce, basically: a stretch the floor 3-point shot maker who carries a utility belt full of pump fakes; a nose-for-the-ball rebounder; a pest of a defender (right up to the point of fouling); and a Hall-of-Fame-caliber chirper, be it to motivate teammates or get under the skin of opponents. At one point he did not throw in a 3-point shot with one hand while shielding his eyes with the other forearm and kicking his heels up to hit his butt during the release, but he might as well have.

Marcin Gortat, C

32 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +11 +/-

Gortat missed a couple bunnies really early and did not seem as involved with the pick-and-roll game (via John Wall) as he could have been. (Wall did at one point in the first quarter seem to vocally ‘encourage’ Gortat to pop out and set a solid screen.) He and Wall committed themselves more to the cause late in the first quarter, though, and got enough of a look at their continually-building chemistry to know such pick-and-roll action should be more of a staple in the future instead of a ‘when they want it.’ Gortat’s 6-for-13 shooting left more to be desired, but he ran the floor as usual, did the necessary work on the glass, and once had a mohawk, but not during this game.

John Wall, PG

35 MIN | 9-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 10 TO | 24 PTS | +14 +/-

Would you even care to try to believe if I told you that John Wall attempted three 3-pointers in the first quarter (one from each corner and one from to top of the arc)? Would it matter that Wall only missed one of those shots (right corner attempt)? Probably not. He went 5-for-8 in the first quarter and was 7-for-11 at half with 18 points (2-2 on free throws, 3-3 at the basket, and 2-5 from long 2 range). When jump shots from Wall are falling, what’s not to like about the Wizards? It was otherwise a check-the-box game for Wall with a display that he’s ready for the playoffs after eight days off. Preparedness will demand that Wall continues to find Gortat (which he did when he desired against Atlanta), and that he curtails risk in the postseason (at least two of his turnovers came when Dennis Schröder and Shelvin Mack picked the fancy dribbling right out of his left breast pocket).

Bradley Beal, SG

37 MIN | 6-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +3 +/-

It was a very cat-and-mouse game for Beal. He got an early 3-pointer by simply running with Wall, later casually hit a deep ball off a screen, and had two highlight dunks (one a reverse). He also missed pull-ups on the break with momentum throwing him off balance, could not slip past gaps in Pero Antic’s defense after screens and hesitation dribbles, and settled for other shots in seemingly predetermined spots when driving lanes appeared possible. Beal hobbled off the court late in the first quarter (to “stretch,” apparently—seems normal), later sat on the bench with a heat wrap taped to his back, and after that aforementioned reverse dunk, he seemed to tweak something by stepping on a baseline cameraman. Maybe Beal is the one who needs to have a couple games off.

Kris Humphries, PF

15 MIN | 0-2 FG | 3-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | 0 +/-

Just trying to think of some meaningless term to describe Humphries’ importance to the Wizards. X-factor? Naw. Glue guy? Probably not. Sandwich maker? Why even. A lake- and corn-fed Minnesotan ready to slap towels, grab rebounds, and hang out with his bros/brahs? Potentially. Humphries wasn’t on his ‘A’ or even ‘B’ game versus Atlanta, so one can only assume he’s still knocking rust off the tractor and/or snow-mobile.

Drew Gooden, PF

21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +2 +/-

Gooden was the first player off the bench to spell Nene and was active enough over the course of the game to let you know he was present. Gooden missed the only 3 he took, and his efforts weren’t totally necessary on this night, as the starters shouldered the scoring load (Wall’s 24 points equalled the bench production, which was led by Otto Porter’s nine points).

Note: I did like the wrinkle in Washington’s offense where Gooden sets an initial high ball screen for Wall and either slips or pops or fades, and Gortat follows up with secondary screening action.

Otto Porter Jr., SF

26 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +2 +/-

Otto checked in at first for Bradley Beal instead of Paul Pierce (as per usual), seemingly because Beal had to go to the locker room to stretch so he could play in the second quarter. Seemingly.

In any case, Porter was a nice filler. He was more aggressive in going after rebounds than I’ve seen him before, and he even hit a floater that made cohort Conor Dirks and I conduct second takes, almost putting out respective necks on the IR in the process. Porter led the bench unit in scoring, posted up Shelvin Mack (and held position! sort of) before hitting a running hook across the lane, and slapped the shit out of a Dennis Schröder shot attempt. Rejoice, gentle-folk of Wizards land, Otto is seemingly part of the playoff rotation, and that is a good thing.

Kevin Seraphin, C

1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1 +/-

Seraphin played for a New York minute to the tune of plus-1 near the end of the first half and never saw the floor again.

Jeers: His overall still untrustworthy game is firmly outside of the expected playoff rotation.

Cheers: He was the only outsider who saw action and will probably see his last minutes for the Wizards soon (barring unlikely circumstances).

Ramon Sessions, PG

17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -9 +/-

Sessions made a couple hard charges at the rim, especially in transition, that helped push the overall offensive agenda. But, he wasn’t wholly noticeable otherwise. His defense seemed safe and it appears as if Sessions should get more used to the corner and baseline areas on offense, as that’s where many of his chances will come when he’s playing off the ball next to John Wall or Bradley Beal.


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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.