Key Legislature: Wizards 99 at Hawks 114 — Turnovers Turn Close Game into Laugher | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 99 at Hawks 114 — Turnovers Turn Close Game into Laugher

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Updated: November 9, 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 Hawks, Regular Season, Game 6, Nov. 7, 2015, by Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur).

When Bradley Beal hit a cutting Nene with a beautiful pocket pass to put the Wizards up 92-90 at the 6:24 mark of the fourth quarter, there didn’t appear to be a conceivable avenue for what eventually happened. And what happened? The Wizards walked off the floor disgusted and angry after a 15-point loss.

On consecutive nights, the Wizards ran into a buzzsaw, facing teams with more experience playing the pace-and-space style that this franchise has adopted. On Friday night the Celtics simply ran the Wizards out of the gym with a tutorial on positionless basketball that I’m sure Brad Stevens left out of his CliffsNotes meeting with Randy Wittman over the summer. On Saturday night, the Wizards were ready for a track meet, but ultimately did not have enough to sprint to the finish line.

The Wizards core can’t close out games because they are expending so much energy in the early part of games playing catch up for the deficit that the bench creates. For example, John Wall exited the game with 3:57 left in the first quarter with the Wizards up 13-11, and by the time Wall came back into the game at the 9:55 mark of the second quarter the Wizards were down 24-19. That’s a seven-point differential, which in most cases the Wizards core must close.

Wall, Beal, and Porter average more than 34 minutes per game, ranking them all in the top 25 in minutes played per game. The Wizards simply may not have enough depth to play at their current pace: 104.9 possessions per game, second in the NBA behind the Celtics.

Now, while the Wizards bench lacks firepower, depth issues don’t compare to the angst generated by Washington’s turnover problem. The Wizards are worst in the league in terms of turnover ratio (the percentage of a team’s possessions that end in a turnover), and opponents score 19.7 points per game off of Wizards turnovers, which was fourth-most in the NBA as of this game’s final buzzer.

Twenty-six team turnovers, the grand total on Saturday night, is not going to allow you to win many games, especially if those turnovers come from your best player in the last five minutes of a highly contested match-up.

John Wall has a lot of responsibility to bear when it comes to the turnover department. At the most critical moment of the game, after the Nene layup that put the Wiz up two points (answered by a Mike Muscala 3-pointer), the Wizards were done in by two horrendous decisions by Wall. Kent Bazemore stole two lazy, perplexing passes from Wall, which directly led to five Hawks points. Tack on a Beal offensive foul turnover, a poor ball-handling turnover by Otto Porter, and a lack of clutch shot-making, and the Wizards suddenly found themselves down 109-96 in the blink of an eye.

If this Wizards team wants to maintain the winning ways that this city has grown accustomed to from its professional basketball franchise, the first step is for John Wall to take control of this team’s ball security issue. He is the initiator of offense and leads the team with a 28.4 percent usage rate, making his five turnovers a game unacceptable even despite his high usage. The positive outlook for the 3-3 Wizards is that they’re staring down the barrel of a small sample size (6 games), and, eventually, Wall’s turnovers should regress back to the mean—his career average is 3.7 turnovers per game.

The Wizards, and Wall, likely need time to adjust to the increased pace they’ve aspiring to play at this season. But the practice run is over, and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook won’t be kind on Tuesday if the Wizards get sloppy again.

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.