Everything’s Eventual — Wizards vs Bulls, DC Council 67 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Everything’s Eventual — Wizards vs Bulls, DC Council 67

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Updated: March 17, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs Bulls, Game 67, March 17, 2016, from the Verizon Center, via Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks).

That Game Was … the Right Kind of Chaos.

In the vacuum of desperation created by a five-game losing streak against a murderer’s row of eminently beatable teams, the Wizards appear to have simplified their defense. They’ve also broken through offensively, powered as always by Wall but supplemented, finally, by shooters who are cutting to the corners when appropriate, and finding space between the 3-point line and the basket when necessary. According to Wall, their pick-and-roll defense, previously “some shit,” has been modified to better allow for help defense. Which is a good thing, as the Wizards were previously choosing between giving up the lane or giving up the 3-point shot. Since those are the two most efficient point-producing spots on the floor, it’s kind of a Sophie’s Choice situation.

The cumulative quotable calculator, from Jared Dudley to Randy Wittman to John Wall and back, implies that while the Wizards were frustrated with the plan on defense, their coach was frustrated with the team’s inability to execute the plan. And that this went on for a long, long time.

Change can be good. Even last-second changes like this one, coming with just a few weeks worth of games remaining. Against the Bulls, the Wizards were able to contest 53 shots, holding Bulls stars Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose to a combined 7-for-20 on contested attempts. Wall and Nene, and even Otto Porter, played the kind defense that each have, at times, been praised for (although Otto’s praise has been more about his potential in this area). Wall funneled players to Nene (starting at the 5 via Gortat’s back issues), who was often the last, sturdy line of defense as Bulls players took it to the rim.

Indeed! Bulls players got 10 shots at the rim against Nene, but were only able to convert five of them. Meanwhile, Wall and Beal formed the Charybdis to Nene’s Scylla, swarming ball-handlers and drivers alike (and grabbing three steals each). With the defense working frustrated Bulls shooters into a froth, the Wizards were able to collect 25 fastbreak points compared to Chicago’s paltry 11 (Wall alone matched Chicago’s fast break total). All of the above combined to create the kind of proud chaos the team envisioned at the outset of the year. Finding a groove now can’t save the season, which is lost regardless of whether the team makes the playoffs and steps into the ring with the Cavaliers. But ending a campaign without an answer to the team’s defensive backslide would be worse.

M.V.P.

It’s John Wall, who triple-doubled for the third time this season (29 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds). His defense was more consistent, and he was perfectly unpredictable on offense, at one point luring E’Twaun Moore into trying to take a charge and then shifting the other direction, leaving Moore to feign—and eventually make—contact with Wall, which resulted in a blocking foul. Wall was good from pretty much every spot on the floor, but especially from the center-right of the court on his midrange shots, where he was 5-for-7.

There was also this.

From where bloggers’ row stands in the arena, one couldn’t quite see whether Wall got more ball or wrist. But if you watch the clip, you can see Beal not-so-reluctantly cede the chance to contest the layup to Wall. Butler, for his part, seemed unaware of Wall’s position. But if you’re visiting truthaboutit dot net, then you know this has to be in the scouting report for Wall. Early in his career, he’d often purposefully lag behind offensive players in order to get the chasedown block, resulting in a lot of layups that looked contested but were never in doubt. In the last two years, however, Wall’s come close to perfecting it.

The play was also the second hard contact a Wizards player had with Butler, after Bradley Beal got called for a flagrant foul minutes earlier for contact with Butler’s brain container.

Wall threw the ball away several times as well (8 turnovers), which kept the Bulls in striking distance in the first half. Maybe that’s part and parcel with the gunslinging, and maybe it’s avoidable, but the franchise point guard found his dudes more often than not. A static dribble, above-the-break, no-look pass to Garrett Temple (a career average 3-point shooter but 5-for-6 on the night) for a corner 3-pointer does not an NBA championship make, but if the Wizards are ever able to surround Wall with high-quality wings, no one will have to rely on the blue moon.

L.V.P.

Ramon Sessions looked awful. The Wizards won by a whole rack of points. Ramon didn’t matter. Things rarely do.

The below Vine will illustrate the futility of trying, the abject uselessness of usefulness, the vapidity of progress, the telekinetic prowess of Cristiano Felicio. When it happened, I turned to TAI colleague Kyle Weidie and uttered a single word. A word once reserved for the prophet JaVale, the sage conditioning absentee BALTCHE, and even Otto Porter, who once entered into a temporal rift and blinked for a lifetime. The word: Shaqtin’.

X-Factor.

Bradley Beal is a porcelain panda. We know this, and as the year trudges on, that thought has crept into the way I think about Beal as a player. His injuries, both the recurring stress reactions and the endless seasonal varietals, were eventually going to work their way into his dictionary entry. So, now, the Wizards have a shooting guard with a Ray Allen stroke, strength enough to muscle through to the rim like Wade, and the athletic ability to sky towards the rim. But Beal, unlike Wall, has yet to play a season without a significant injury, and picks up “minor” week-long injuries like he’s a clone with no antibodies walking through a kindergarten classroom.

Which makes watching Beal performances like this one difficult to watch! In one game, Beal displayed more aggressiveness than he has all year, backing down smaller defenders, going at the rim despite knowing defenders were coming for him, and cutting to the basket in traffic. Beal took 17 shots, but 11 of them were at the rim. In fact, Beal only took three 3-pointers (far below what he should), and seemed intent on taking advantage of Chicago’s weak interior defense without Noah, Gibson (who reinjured his hamstring), or Gasol.

Beal also led the team in free throw attempts, which was a product of his activity at the hoop.

And, still, I caught myself. I caught myself saying “no no no nononoono” under my breath as he went up for contested layups, and as he checked Bulls players on defense. I sighed as I saw him amble back to the stationary bike in the runway between the Wizards locker room and the court, slowly pedaling instead of resting on the bench, seemingly keeping an unknown muscle from tightening up. Beal has been imagined as Washington’s second best player, whereas in reality that prince’s crown has probably belonged to either Marcin Gortat or Trevor Ariza in recent years. In a season that may not feature the playoffs for the first time since Beal’s rookie year, Brad may not have many more chances to shine before coming to the table with the Wizards to talk about his max money. Better make ’em count.

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.