Opening Statements: Wizards at Spurs, Game 24 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards at Spurs, Game 24

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Updated: December 16, 2015

Washington Wizards vs San Antonio Spurs - Nov. 26, 2012


Teams: Wizards at Spurs
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Venue: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Spurs fav’d by 13.5 points.


Conventional logic or #SoWizards?

That is the pregame question.

Conventional logic says the San Antonio Spurs will blow out the Washington Wizards, much like they blew out the Utah Jazz on Monday night. The Spurs have won eight out of their last 10, 21 of 26 overall, and they are undefeated at home (13-0 this season, 22-0 dating back to last season). They lead the NBA in:

  • point differential (13.2);
  • points per game allowed (87.9)
  • 3-point percentage allowed (30.6%, compared to the Wizards’ embarrassing 41.1%);
  • and Defensive Rating (93.7).

As has been mentioned on seemingly every basketball-related show on television this week, the Spurs have amassed these lofty stats while cloaked in the shadow of Golden State’s greatness.

Sticking with the same line of conventional logic, the Wizards should not even sniff a victory against the mighty Spurs. In addition to their fancy defensive stats, the Spurs are second in the NBA in field goal percentage (48%) and fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (37%). Spurs coach Gregg Popovich may think that the 3-point shot is a circus sort of thing, but it’s an act that coach Randy Wittman and his Wizards have yet to stop, or come closs. Less than 48 hours ago, the Wizards allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 66 percent from behind the arc, even though they entered the game as the second-worst 3-point-shooting team in the league. If the Wizards struggle to score against the league’s best defensive team and allow them to shoot at or significantly above their averages from the 3-point line (1) and the field, the numbers AND conventional logic add up to another bad loss. Not to mention, the Wizards have not won in San Antonio since 1999.

The 2015-16 Washington Wizards have been anything but conventional—in fact, even Coach Wittman characterized this season as a “roller coaster,” which means that season averages and stats may not apply. They do have bad losses to the Grizzlies, Lakers, and Celtics (twice). BUT they also have wins over these Spurs (more on that later), the Cavaliers in Cleveland and the Mavericks in Dallas without Bradley Beal. And despite John Wall’s quiet performance against the Grizzlies Monday night (six points and nine assists), he has averaged 27.3 points, 10.9 assists, and 5.4 rebounds during the month of December and figures not to have another dismal game in San Antonio.

The last time the Spurs and Wizards faced off in Washington, Wall was his usual facilitating self with 14 assists to go along with 17 points, but it was his now-injured backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, who led the team to victory. Beal had 25 points and hit the game-winning shot (assisted by Wall). Just in case you forgot:

The Spurs had an uncharacteristically-high 20 turnovers that night but still led by as many as eight points in the final quarter before relinquishing the lead with 3:51 left in the game. Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs with 25 points but had trouble containing Beal. Aside from Tony Parker, who had 17 points, the Spurs did not get much from LaMarcus Aldridge (10 points on 4-for-14 shooting), Tim Duncan (eight points), or David West, who scored two points in just 11 minutes of play. Given that the Spurs have gone 17-3 since that game, it goes without saying that they are better practiced with how to use their new personnel. But that’s yet another conventional logic assumption. When Parker was asked about the first Spurs-Wizards matchup, he acknowledged that his team has come a long way since then. “We felt like we had the game and we let it slip at the end,” Parker said. “I feel like we’re improving a lot, I feel like we’re a different team, so we’re going in the right direction.”

Bullets.

Kawhi says he doesn’t like to watch tape of an individual opponent and instead prefers to see that player face-to-face on the court, making notes of their tendencies and various basketball idiosyncrasies. Hopefully he was able to index all of Otto Porter, Jr.’s court habits after his 8-10, 19 point night against Kawhi and the Spurs in November. With Beal’s injury, Porter may have just become the Wizards’ most important player outside of John Wall, as they attempt to stay in the playoff conversation in the surprisingly frisky Eastern Conference. I don’t think Kawhi will take this one lightly.

  • Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post tweeted that the Wizards watched practiced/watched tape for two hours and focused on defense, particularly their communication. Coach Wittman tried this same tactic earlier in the season when the Wizards gave up 110-plus points in five of their first seven games. Now they are at it again, without Beal, Nene, and Gooden.

  1. They’re allowing opponents to shoot 7.1% better than average from 3.
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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.