Key Legislature: Wizards 105 at Heat 110 — Preseason Carnival Almost Over | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 105 at Heat 110 — Preseason Carnival Almost Over

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Updated: October 22, 2015

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards at Heat, Preseason Game 6, Oct. 21, 2015, by Sean Fagan (@McCarrick).

The NBA preseason, even late in its gestation, is much like a small town circus carnival. For every larger ride, a Ferris wheel, that has legitimacy and paying customers queuing, there are the darker corners of the carnival that many attendees seek out (the “Freak Show”) to satisfy their morbid curiosity. Come! See the last professional gasps of Jimmer Fredette! (Recently released by San Antonio.) Watch the unkillable Gerald Green explode for 28 points off the bench! Or, in the case of the Wizards: Marvel at the altruism of Randy Wittman as he lets a bench mob whose main core consisted of Ramon Sessions, Jaron Johnson, and Josh Harrellson try to close out a game against the Miami Heat’s starters!

Wittman’s kindness ultimately proved to be the Wizards’ undoing, as his ragtag squad was unable to hold off a fourth quarter Heat surge that resulted in Miami taking the lead for good with 40 ticks left on the clock, following a Dwyane Wade floating jumper. The ball was then placed first in the hands of Kelly Oubre Jr., who clanged an ill-advised 3-point attempt which was quickly followed by a Josh Harrellson miss that sealed the game for the villains in white, red, and yellow.

While the end result of the game, 110-105 Miami, was hardly surprising considering the personnel the Wizards employed, its flow up until that point was baffling in the extreme. The Heat won not so much due to the work of their starters, who performed like a science experiment gone horribly wrong, but on the strength of their bench, which outscored the Wizards’ bench 67-30. Much of this came on the back of the aforementioned Gerald Green (8-14 FGs), who took advantage of Oubre Jr.’s rookie defensive awareness, but also from the usual cast of villains who appear every year to torment the Wizards. Mario Chalmers came off the bench to run the Heat in an much more efficient manner than starter Goran Dragic (Chalmers was plus-20 on the night, and Dragic a loathsome minus-15), and the Heat even unearthed the remains of Udonis Haslem, who managed to end up plus-4 despite his only remaining basketball skill being able to dodder up and down the court.

On the flipside, the Wizards’ bench left a bit to be desired. Wittman inserted Jared Dudley into his first competitive basketball game since last year’s playoffs (and since back surgery in July) and the results were as one might expect. While Dudley flashed a bit of the court vision that the Wizards signed him for, he was otherwise ineffective, managing to accumulate a Veselyian five fouls in just under 12 minutes of floor time. Fellow bench mate Drew Gooden was also a hack machine, managing to foul out in under 18 minutes of court time. Tyler Johnson walked away with an indelible “NBA moment” in the first quarter as he threw the ball down in Gooden’s mush.

If one is to take heart from the evening, Washington’s starters, even with Bradley Beal taking a night off for rest, were resplendent. From the jump, the starters—John Wall’s starters—redlined the speed in Playoff Randy Wittman’s new pace and space system, and the end result was a Wizards double-digit lead each time the opening five held serve. Wall could pick his spots at leisure, whether it was finding Kris Humphries in the corner for a 3-pointer in the first quarter, or calling his own shot and draining a 3 over a statuesque Birdman Andersen in the third. Nor were the highlights limited to Wall, as Marcin Gortat continued his tremendous preseason by stymying the frenetic Hassan Whiteside, and Otto Porter Jr. continues to be the solvent that holds the entire core together.

With the preseason carnival about to pull up stakes and leave town, the Wizards have to feel good about the performance of their main attractions (the starters) while hesitantly optimistic that Randy Wittman has some idea of how his bench is going to shake out over the season. (This, of course, has been stated every season since Wittman took over as head coach … normally rotations are solidified sometime in February.) When the real show opens in a week, it is a smidgen unlikely that the Wizards will be closing out games with Josh Harrellson on the court, and John Wall and Bradley Beal sitting on the bench cracking jokes and rooting on their teammates.

Bullets.

  • Far and away the biggest ICG (Internet Comment Getter) was not the quality of basketball on display but the long and lustrous ponytail of Josh McRoberts, who must have some sort of deal with Vidal Sassoon. Mike Miller, the game has been upped.
  • Gary Neal started in place of the resting Bradley Beal and was just “there” for most of the evening, going 6-for-14 from the field but not doing much else. It was a boxscore devoid of calories, signifying nothing.
  • The Wizards were extremely handsy on the evening, committing 32 fouls to the Heat’s 19. Despite their overall hackery, the Heat only ended up shooting two more free throws, 33 to the Wizards’ 31.
  • Another poor stat for the Wizards, and perhaps the most worrying trend of the preseason, is that the turnover margin continues to favor Washington’s opponents. The Wizards coughed up the ball 18 times on the night while the Heat more or less protected the rock with only nine turnovers.

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Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.