Key Legislature: Wizards 91 vs Celtics 116 — No Match For That Mean, Green, Winning Machine | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 91 vs Celtics 116 — No Match For That Mean, Green, Winning Machine

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Updated: January 26, 2016

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 vs. Celtics, Regular Season Game 42, Jan. 25, 2016, by Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur) from the Verizon Center, D.C.

The blizzard that struck the D.C. metro area, and much of the East Coast, did little to deter die-hard basketball fans from trekking through the snow to see their favorite team. The only problem: almost half of those fans in the Verizon Center on Monday evening were sporting green Celtics gear, out in droves to watch their team complete a season sweep of the Wizards.

The “Let’s go, Cel-tics” chants were frequent and surprisingly loud, even though they were drowned out by boos from the locals every time … well, at least until the game turned into a 25-point blowout in the four quarter. People were more concerned about getting to the exits than city pride at that point.

Can you blame them?

Head Coach Randy Wittman said the Wizards gave up. But Hell, Wittman did, too. And from the look of recent starting lineups, he’s given up on the future of basketball. Maybe we were all sold a bill of goods.

Deep down, we had to know that Wittman was eventually going to lean on the style of play that he knows best—a style that includes neither “pace” nor “space.” Monday’s offense did not resemble the one that the Wizards used to dismantle the Raptors in last year’s playoffs and upset the Spurs earlier this season. The way they played, with Nene and Gortat in the frontcourt, more closely resembled last year’s team that finished 19th in Offensive Rating. The Celtics were able to limit the Wizards, particularly John Wall, from settling into easy offense and running in transition.

A functional half-court offense was almost non-existent, besides a few early post-ups from Nene and lots of futile Wall pick-and-rolls. There wasn’t enough spacing on the floor. There wasn’t a lot of shooting on the floor, either, and maybe that has something to do with the fact that the Wizards best shooter, Bradley Beal, only played nine minutes because of an elbow he absorbed. Not only did Marcus Smart break Beal’s nose, he also gave the Big Panda a concussion. Beal is now subject to the NBA mandated “concussion protocol” and won’t be available until he’s “sympton-free.” He’s been ruled out of tonight’s game against the Toronto Raptors, when the Wizards will try to avoid another season sweep against an Eastern Conference foe.

Boston Coach Brad Stevens has run an offensive clinic on the Wizards this year. The Celtics have had scoring totals of 116, 119, 111, and 118 points against Washington. Stevens is a coach who has an understanding of how to get the best out of a mediocre roster, while the Wizards under Wittman look lost if Wall or Beal have bad games—on those nights, it takes a season-high scoring effort from the likes of Otto Porter, Jared Dudley, or Gary Neal to stay competitive.

What now? Roster changes seem unlikely, and even so, would probably be of the minor variety. A change at the head coach position seems warranted, but that too will likely not happen mid-season. It’s not this organization’s style. (Keeping costs down is priority No.1, it seems.) Wizards faithful may be stuck on this sad journey till season’s end, and I, for one, am content. If they surprise everyone and make the playoffs, great. The Wizards have proven to be a team worthy of full attention from any playoff opponent. If they fall into the lottery, I’m OK with that too, because at least the Wizards could add big-time talent to the already-young nucleus.

This team may also be in need of that strong veteran leadership offered by Paul Pierce. Jared Dudley has tried his best to bring a sense of reason as a veteran in this league, but he’s an NBA journeyman whose voice my not resonate as deeply as The Truth’s.

Dudley was blunt after the game when talking about how this team handles adversity:

“They are a deep team where Coach [Brad] Stevens plays a lot of different lineups. If something’s not working, they’re trying different people who can shoot the ball, guards going downhill, so it puts a lot of pressure on us. We’ve never stopped them in all four games. I think for us we’ve been indecisive defensively how we’re going to do it, and this team, what I’ve seen so far this year, we don’t do great dealing with adversity. I don’t know this year if we have any come from behind wins where we were down ten or more, 15. NBA teams are supposed to get a couple of those.”

Dudley was one of the few Wizards who had a decent night against Boston. He kept the Wizards in it during the first half and finished with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor. He had eight points in the first quarter and played with confidence and in rhythm, driving past opponents and pulling up for 3s. With Gortat and Nene clogging up the lane when they played together, it didn’t allow Wall the space he normally has to operate on offense. That is no excuse to absolve Wall from criticism, it’s just the truth, but in any case, Wall did not play well. He was unable to get the Wizards going offensively, and he did not put up much of a fight on defense. Wall allowed Isaiah Thomas (23 points) to create offense for himself and his teammates all night. It wasn’t just Thomas that beat Wall, however: the Wizards switched Wall onto Avery Bradley, who managed to sink a few shots. They switched him onto Evan Turner, who was able to have his way with Wall as well. It was a disappointing showing from a player many feel was snubbed for a First Team All-Defense selection last season.

Maybe John Wall is hurt, or maybe he’s just tired of losing and having to carry the team on offense every night. Or maybe he, like everyone else, is tired of a coach who has no intent on trying to progress, or at least has shown little capability to propel the Wizards to the next level.


 

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.