Opening Statements: Wizards vs Magic, Game 8 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Magic, Game 8

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Updated: November 14, 2015

Washington Wizards vs Orlando Magic


Teams: Wizards vs Magic
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington DC
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 5.5 points.


Coming into this season the Wizards were dead set on changing the way they played by increasing the tempo and attempting more 3s using small-ball lineups. The Orlando Magic gave Washington their first reality check on opening night—maybe this new style is still a work in progress. Yes, the Wizards were able to eek out a season-opening victory in Orlando, but this team looked far from the offensive juggernaut that saw them lead all teams in preseason scoring at 112 points per game.

Two weeks, a few double-digit losses, and one exhilarating win against a perennial power has left the identity of this 3-4 Wizards team in flux, but there’s plenty of time to sort that out with 75 games left. Can they establish themselves as contenders in an improving Eastern Conference? (Brooklyn and Philadelphia are the only non-competitive teams in the East so far.)

The 5-5 Magic, on the other hand, find themselves in a situation that should look awfully familiar to the recent history in D.C. Orlando has the luxury of having limited expectations as a franchise, while simultaneously staying competitive with a core nucleus of young players who exude confidence on the court. The Magic lost their first three games of the season, but have now rallied to win five out of their last seven, including a big win last night over a rising Utah Jazz team.

If the Wizards are to get back on track, the first step is to protect the ball and not lead the league in turnovers (17.3 a game). Maybe the fast pace that this team has been striving for this season has led to the sloppy play, which has crippled their early season performance.

It would also greatly behoove Washington to get back to the defensive intensity that saw them finish in the top 10 in terms of opponent points per game allowed last season (97.8), not the ridiculous 110 points per game that they are currently giving up. The best way for this team to improve defensively is to start driving opponents off of the 3-point line. Teams have grown increasingly comfortable beyond the arc against the Wizards and are shooting 38.4 percent (third-highest 3-point rate allowed in the NBA).

Randy Wittman’s team should be plenty rested after last Tuesday’s debacle against OKC, and they should should use that to their advantage early against a team coming into the second night of a back-to-back. Bradley Beal is officially questionable, and Victor Oladipo has been ruled out for Orlando with a concussion. It can be the John Wall and Marcin Gortat show, if they want it to be.

Remember: it’s early. But this is as an important of a game as any for the Wizards to find a rhythm offensively. Their 91.6 first quarter Offensive Rating ranks fifth-lowest in the league. If Wall & Co. can score efficiently early and allow that to set the tone defensively, maybe the Wizards can get back to fulfilling some of the promise that had everyone so excited heading into the season.


 

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.