REACTION: Wasted Wizards Possessions Lead to Missed Opportunity | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

REACTION: Wasted Wizards Possessions Lead to Missed Opportunity

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Updated: May 12, 2015

We all should have known how this game was going to play out when John Wall showed up looking like an extra from “That Thing You Do.” Let’s react…

The Wizards fell 106-101 to the Hawks, and the story of the game was porous first-half defense and plenty of wasted possessions that ultimately cost the Wizards a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

How it happened

Paul Pierce was still a walking truth serum to start Game 4 for the Wizards. His 3-for-3 shooting from 3-point range allowed for his teammates to get into a groove in the first quarter without having to feel the pressure of keeping up with a Hawks team that came out much more focused than they had in the two previous games.

Ramon Sessions seemed to be out of sorts to start, missing his first few shots, including an air ball. Luckily for the Wizards, Will Bynum carried over the momentum that he’d built up in a nine-point outing in Game 3 with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting. But Bynum played awful defense on Dennis Schröder, and four costly turnovers proved too, too crucial to the game-long arc of wasted Wizards possessions.

A major part of Washington’s problem in the first half was their lackadaisical pick-and-roll defense. Sessions allowed Jeff Teague and Schröder to initiate the offense well inside the 3-point arc, allowing too much space for Hawks guards and wings to operate in the lane. Marcin Gortat was late recovering on the majority of his close-outs in the first half, and Al Horford and Paul Millsap had free reign on elbow jumpers.

The adjustment that the Wizards made halfway through the second quarter was to switch on the pick-and-rolls, which ultimately confused the Hawks, who could not take advantage of their bigs on Wizards guards.

While the Wizards were able to stave off the Hawks from increasing the lead to blowout proportions during the second quarter, the damage was already done. Washington would spend the rest of the game playing catch up after being down 10 at the half. Atlanta’s 65 halftime points were the second-most allowed by the Wizards in a half this season.

In the second half, Washington was able to find a better rhythm defensively, limiting Atlanta to just 41 points. The problem for the Wizards was not being able to take advantage of all of the Hawks’ misses and mistakes. There were too many second-half possessions that ended in rushed shots or turnovers. The Wizards lost the turnover battle 13-17, and the timing of those turnovers proved to be tough to overcome in the long run.

Despite the sloppy play form the Wizards, everything was on the line with six seconds left and the ball in Paul Pierce’s hands. This time “The Truth” was unable to deliver the tying 3-ball, even though he was wide-open at his preferred spot above the break. I guess he needed two Hawks bodies flying at him as he faded away to make the shot as difficult as possible.

Hits

#NeneJams is back

This is the active Nene that the Wizards need to maintain their natural size advantage in the paint over the Hawks.

Bradley Beal had his signature playoff game, finishing with a game- and playoff career-high 34 points, plus six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals on 11-for-25 shooting. Beal has figured out how to keep his teammates involved while staying aggresive in finding his shot. There were a few times where he might have forced the issues with rushed shots when the team needed a quality possession, but that is the type of nuance that can only be acquired via in-game experience. Beal has grown exponentially over these last few games with Wall out, and this was one of his best games as a pro.

Misses

Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter both picked the worst time to lay duds. Gortat’s was the more egregious of the two considering the fact that he went 1-for-7 from the field, including a few missed bunnies at the rim. It was bad enough that Gortat’s shot was not falling, but he may have hurt the Wizards even more with his slow pick-and-roll defense and constant loose-ball fouling.

Porter, who lit the NBA world on fire with his first seven postseason games, finally had his “regression toward the mean” game. The effort was most definitely there on defense, but the Wizards really needed that third wing scorer to complement Pierce and Bradley Beal.

Garrett Temple played and finished with a team low plus/minus of minus-7 despite only playing four minutes. He missed his only 3-point attempt, and committed two personal fouls and one turnover. That is the type of negative impact that the Wizards cannot afford with the “all hands on deck” approach that the team needs with their leader and superstar out. At this rate, Randy Wittman might be better off breaking the emergency glass on Rasual Butler and seeing what he has to offer in terms of wing depth.

What’s Next?

The series heads back to Atlanta tied up at two games apiece, meaning the Wizards will be at the disadvantage of not having home court. It does not appear that John Wall will be making the miraculous recovery that everyone is hoping for, since all reports out of the Phone Booth are telling us that Wall has yet to attempt to dribble a basketball.

The Wizards will need to someone outside of Brad Beal and Paul Pierce to step up and give them a much-needed boost. Wednesday’s Game 5 is now the most important game of the season. Let’s hope that the Wizards can put this missed opportunity behind them before their run comes to a screeching and unsatisfactory halt.

 

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.