DC Council Round 1, Game 4: Wizards vs Raptors — The Floor Has Been Cleansed With Bristles | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council Round 1, Game 4: Wizards vs Raptors — The Floor Has Been Cleansed With Bristles

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Updated: April 29, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from First Round Playoff Game No. 4: Washington Wizards
versus the Toronto Raptors in Washington.
Contributor: Kyle Weidie from the Verizon Center.

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Three days removed from Sunday, I’m still trying to gauge the balance of surprised versus not at all in terms of Washington’s 4-0 series sweep. Surprised that Toronto pretty much laid down? Of course. Surprised that the far superior defensive team cleaned clocks? Not really. Which, makes it hard to assess just how good the Wizards are, or can, be at this point. In the next round they will face either Atlanta or Brooklyn—two teams that gave the Wizards a court’s worth of problems in the regular season. Sure, the second season brings us to a point where the past does not matter so much. But also: Atlanta’s defense (now without Thabo Sefolosha) ranked seventh in the regular season while Brooklyn’s D (which went through its own personnel transformations) ranked 24th. Relevant? As much as it needs to be by the time you would get to individual matchups with either squad; and now it’s too early to tell with that series tied at two games apiece.

Back to the sweep. The Raptors did, mind you, provide some #EffortMetrics and toughness in the early-going of Game 4. But it was mostly an attempt to throw blind haymakers while standing in a wet pile of waist-deep hay. The analytics behind their efforts (seemingly mostly intent upon making it an ugly slog that would irritate the Wizards into submission) was the equivalent of pumping “double-doubles” as the telling stat by which all telling stats would be measured. (A note: CSN Washington always peddles the inane and irrelevant to most things double-double stat on viewers whom they ‘must’ assume only cater to the lowest common denominator of statistics. Grow up, Comcast. You might even bring viewers with you on that path.)

We’ll stop the digression, because the Wizards never bit. (Nene came close, mind you.) Before the series I speculated that team turnover percentage (TOV%) would have a great influence on the outcome—”The series could really come down to turnovers, something out of the hands of either coach and through the fingers of players. Washington’s TOV% is 15.5, ranked 23rd in the NBA. Toronto does a better job of taking care of the ball with a TOV% of 13.4, ranked fourth-best.”

I was essentially wrong, as Washington’s series TOV% was 14.8 and Toronto’s was 11.9. Not a big difference. Perhaps I was influenced by Randy Wittman’s general, out-of-the-box sentiment of (something along these lines): ‘Take care of the ball and everything will be OK and your bowel movements will be perfect.’

Instead, what has allowed team owner Ted Leonsis to do a first-round victory lap via-a-vis blogging and ‘Mission Accomplished’ banners on aircraft carriers was the fact that Washington’s 3-point attempts per 48 minutes skyrocketed from a 27th-ranked 16.6 in the regular season to 23.6 in the postseason (which is still currently ranked 11th amongst all playoff teams—Brooklyn is 10th with 24.1 and Atlanta is third with 30.2).

The chicken, the egg, the stubbornness, the blame on personnel, and the midrange. Pierce at 4, Gooden at 4, (Otto at 4!), and a pile of pigeon shit. Where does it all lie? Probably, again, in Toronto’s shitty defense, especially because so many of Washington’s 3s in the first round were uncontested. But somewhere in there is change. Whether the Wizards realized it all along or later on, after much hand-wringing in the world of basketball operations (including the blogs, which also made it to Leonsis’ own blog), there was change. And through that change, the team lives to see another day.


 

Toronto Raptors

94

Final

Box Score

Washington Wizards

125

Nene Hilario, PF

28 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-7 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +20 +/-

Nene attacked the Raptors with a big-bodied spin move in the lane, drawing attention then finding Gortat who shuttled the ball to Wall for a jumper. Teamwork. Later, Nene didn’t settle for a jumper and drove the lane, but a haphazard pass to Gortat didn’t get through the traffic and the ball was lost out of bounds. Nene was a tad spastic, almost got into a skirmish, flailing his arms at near-J.R. Smith levels (but without as much malicious intent) when contact came his way. In related news: John Wall went almost out of his way two games in a row to praise Nene for a) not demanding the ball in the post, and b) not complaining to the referees (too much). All the while, Toronto was very much trying to get under his skin in the early going and he didn’t bite. His game still wasn’t ideal, but it was enough. He hit a couple jumpers with legs and arc and, late in the game, he finally hit a hook shot in the lane without overdoing it with flailing movement and limbs. Nene is more important than he knows, not as important as he sometimes acts. In other words: stay out of Wall and Gortat’s way if you don’t mind.


Paul Pierce, SF

22 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +20 +/-

Grandpop Uncle Paul Pierce got the Verizon Center going on the game’s first possession with a block on DeMar DeRozan. And now, a message from Twitter:

And so then Pierce helped draw an early tech on Kyle Lowry in the first quarter with veteran-craftsmanship-gamesmanship-telepathic-skin-grafting-theory-of-annoyance. Then Pierce victimized Toronto fans by stealing the ball, setting real time into slow motion for long enough to allow DeRozan to catch up on the break and goaltend his layup attempt. It was taunting at its best.

By the way, Pierce hit all four of his 3-pointers in the third quarter and then sat for Sunday evening with 3:28 left. Broom? Piece buried dino bones with a shovel. We’ll talk about him owning the Raptors in more ways to Sunday for years to come. Using the word ‘neat’ in earnest would be appropriate.


Marcin Gortat, C

29 MIN | 8-9 FG | 5-7 FT | 11 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | +32 +/-

If Gortat seems a bit more patient these days—and more present on the court—it’s because he understands: he will get his shots. It used to be Nene the Wizards’ offense had to placate; get him his shots, right from the get-go. Now, Nene has taken a backseat, at least this series, and you can constantly hear John Wall praise him for it. Nevertheless, Gortat once again got his. And he did his damn job. Amazing how reciprocal relationships can work. He was all Gortat was, is, and could be.

He once sealed a mismatched Patrick Patterson, caught the lob pass, and made a beautiful reverse layup finish. Think about it. How many big men can do this? Another time he was recovering, nay sprinting back, into the paint after helping on Kyle Lowry to disrupt a pass and get the steal. Gortat beat Jonas Valanciunas down the court for points—he prefers the “Machine” and not the “Hammer” because, I theorize, he usually beats opposing 5s down the court. The shimmy on the game’s shake: Gortat once had a mismatch versus Greivis Vasquez, got the ball, and clearly and comfortably hit a fading baseline jump shot over him, for points. Of course.


John Wall, PG

25 MIN | 3-5 FG | 7-7 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +20 +/-

John Wall picked up a third foul on Kyle Lowry while traveling and not even getting fouled. It was a nice excuse that even caused a non-stir, but it was just indicative of the feeling which turned out to be fact: one All-Star guard was not like the other. I’m not sure whatever might be wrong with Kyle Lowry matters that much. John Wall took five shots, made three, controlled the game like a man with about seven phalanges at the end of each arm gripping a telekinetic Playstation controller. Hence, a mismatch versus fellow Wildcat Patrick Patterson in the left corner did not result in a bunch of John Wall dribbles but, instead, a beautiful baby basketball was born on the court. His name was “Assist” and he was birthed into a bucket. The delivering doctor: Marcin Gortat.


Bradley Beal, SG

36 MIN | 5-15 FG | 10-11 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +29 +/-

Beal came into the NBA with the reputation as a shooter first, but the analytics on his game also showed that he could rebound and get to the free throw line. As we’ve come to learn about the Big Panda, when he’s rebounding and assisting, his head’s in the game. And when he’s getting to the free throw line, well, that’s a very rare show of driving confidence. Sunday was just the fifth time in 207 regular season and playoff games that Beal reached double-digits in free throw attempts (10-11). This was not lost on Randy Wittman after the game. In one year at Florida, Beal’s FTr (Free Throw Rate—amount of FTAs to FGA) was .440. That’s like, a lot. Also: NBA ain’t college. As we’ve also come to learn, Beal’s height may be in Dwyane Wade territory but his wingspan comes up short, as does his ability to maneuver into the lane and at the rim. So, Beal has had to compensate, and it’s been a tough road. In the NBA, his FTr has been .191 to this point in his career. That’s closer to the levels of a 3-point specialist (think Raja Bell or Boobie Gibson)—even a shooter like J.J. Redick has a career .271 FTr. In 15 career playoff games, Beal’s FTr is .298.

All of this is to say that my notes from Beal’s team-leading 23 points in the Game 4 sweep essentially went like this: Got on board with a corner 3 that looked like a long 2, OH MY GOD HE HIT A 3 OFF A CURL, hard drive and knock versus Psycho T, hard drive on Lou Williams, Panda Range miss. He shot 5-for-15 and no one cared. Nor did Beal care who he attacked. He got to the line so many times by drawing fouls against these Raptors in this order: Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, Lou Williams, DeMar DeRozan, Greivis Vasquez, Sweet Lou again. Talk about spreading the Panda love.


Drew Gooden, PF

23 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +17 +/-

Drew Gooden has played about seven percent of his 21,242 career regular season and playoff minutes with the Wizards—42 percent of his 88 career 3-point makes have come with the Wizards.

The Wizards are Gooden’s tenth NBA team and he was taken fourth overall out of Kansas in the 2002 NBA draft: Yao Ming (1), Mike Dunleavy (3), Nene Hilario (7), Amar’e Stoudemire (9), Caron Butler (10), Jared Jeffries (11), Juan Dixon (17), Tayshaun Prince (23), Juan Carlos Navarro (39) draft. This was also the last Wizards draft before the Grunfeld Era.

Gooden is a relic, a chameleon, and nothing new. Big men like Gooden have been adopting 3-point shots late into careers just about since the 3-point shot was made part of the game. Except now we notice, and now Gooden’s brand of hair-plucking raised arms or gyrating side-fist celebrations are those which you love to see on your side but hate to see displayed by the other team. For Toronto fans, Gooden’s twits are second in line after Paul Pierce, and a notch above ‘Who is Otto Porter and who fed him Pork Chops ‘o Chunky?’

We shall leave you with these bullets:

  • Drew Gooden hit 62% of his 81 career 3-point makes over the last 5 years of his 13-year career.
  • Eduardo Najera hit 87% of his 110 career 3-point makes over the last 5 years of his 12-year career.
  • Brad Miller hit 67% of his 201 career 3-point makes over the last 5 years of his 14-year career.
  • Jack Sikma hit 97% of his 203 career 3-point makes over the last 3 years of his 14-year career—Sikma’s first two seasons in the NBA were pre-official 3-point line statistical tracking.

What a time to be alive and develop a jump shot. Gooden’s career, bless it, is one beautiful pump fake.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

26 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +12 +/-

Otto Porter got the “Ot-to, Por-ter” chant almost immediately upon his entrance into the game. Everybody is excited for the young man. Plus, his name is perfect for chanting. Funny how it all works out. The chant first came, if I can recollect, after he blocked a Tyler Hansbrough spaz attack. It’s not Tyler’s fault. He was an active boy as a youth, used to love the playground merry-go-round. You know, the type of contraption banned from public spaces ‘cause kids was gettin’ hurt.

Otto didn’t rock any socks or dino-claws off anyone with his play in Game 4, but he hit a 3-pointer, a sweet, sweet baby 3-pointer. Porter is a difference-maker with his go-go-gadget arms all over the court, but the difference in any of that mattering is his ability to hit the long ball. Teams are going to start the notice, however, so Otto won’t always have the luxury of being the most open Wizard on the court. How he adjusts: to be continued…


Ramon Sessions, PG

24 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +17 +/-

Sessions started the game a little out of it, rhythmically, and sometimes he goes unnoticed, which can be a good thing—he’ll never pound the air out of the ball. But then he found himself assisting Drew Gooden for a 3, drawing a flagrant foul versus Tyler Hansbrough (hit both free throws), getting a layup off a nice Paul Pierce drive and dish. Before we know it, Sessions was alive with 3-point pleasure, smoking from deep with three straight made 3-pointers (all assisted); one near the end of the second quarter and two near the end of the third quarter, the last one pushing Washington’s lead to 30-plus points for the first time in the game. That was nice.


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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.