Key Legislature: Wizards 83 at Cavaliers 108 — Ohio Beat Down Not the End of the World | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 83 at Cavaliers 108 — Ohio Beat Down Not the End of the World

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Updated: March 5, 2016

Key Legislature… the game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards at Caliers, Regular Season Game 61, March 4, 2015, by Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur)


 

No moral victories over here. For a game that had few positive takeaways, it should be easy to put this gutpunch in the rear view mirror and never look back.

No one was expecting this team to finish out the season on a 22-game winning streak. Another loss on the season was inevitable, and at least it came to one of the few elite teams remaining on the calendar, and not one of the supposed “cupcakes”  that comprise the easy post-break schedule narrative for the Wizards. After reaching .500 at the 60 game mark, this team clawed their way back into the late-to-the-party playoff discussion, and last night served as a reminder of just how far the Wizards still have to go if they want to make a first round series against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams interesting.

The Cavs served the Wizards an old-fashioned beat-down, and it didn’t matter that they decided to rest Kevin Love. Mind you, these two teams met in D.C. last Sunday, and the Wizards won going away. And yes, LeBron James sat out that game, to rest. It’s telling enough that the Cavs are electing to rest their best players against a team that still wants to make the playoffs.

Bron-Bron didn’t have a stat line to write home about on Friday, according to the King’s standard, but he did put up a fantastic all around game in which he was able to make his teammates better. For all of the talk this week about unhappiness in the Cavs locker room, Lebron was able to come out and get damn near everyone involved. The fact that Love was out may have helped the Cavs, because they were able to start three perimeter players around Lebron at the “4” and Mozgov in his usual center role. This allowed Cleveland’s offense to be free flowing with ball movement and cutting action that ultimately lead to tons of easy layups and dunks, because of Lebron’s ability to drive-and-dish.

The second quarter was the key point of this game, and the Wizards second unit was simply unable to keep up with the Cavs on this particular night. Being outscored 32-19 in the second, after only being down four at the end of the first quarter, will pretty much demoralize any team. The Wizards bench was not at full strength because of the conspicuous absence of Alan Anderson, who has proven to be a valuable commodity in his two-week playing tenure as a Wizard. Anderson’s absence can probably be attributed to trying to navigate through a minutes restriction and preventative measures in back-to-back game situations. Maybe Randy Wittman wanted to make sure Anderson was available on Saturday versus the Indiana Pacers.

It wasn’t as if the Wizards bench was completely dominated by the Cavs bench, the scoring margin was 42-39 in favor of Cleveland. Washington needed a bigger game from their reserves, considering the fact that the Cavs starters thoroughly dominated, leaving every D.C. starter with a negative plus/minus for the game.

If there was one positive takeaway to be had from this game, it was the fact that Markieff Morris finally appears to be getting more comfortable in his role within this team. He does not have the same free-reign offensively, like he did in Phoenix, but he is making the most of limited opportunities and picking and choosing his spots within the confines of this offense. Markieff isn’t really known for being a great 3-point shooter, and his shot has not been able to fall from deep since he’s been a Wizard, but his mid-range game is there and his post-up game an underrated tool. The fact that Markeiff got into a nice rhythm in the third quarter (9 of his 13 points) should bode well for his confidence going forward.

If there was one negative takeaway to be had, it has to be the elephant in the room concerning the starting shooting guard role. Bradley Beal has come off of the bench 20 games (starting three) since his return from a 19-game absence in the middle portion of the season, and for the most part it hasn’t really affected the outcome of Wizards’ games. In theory, bringing Beal off the bench makes sense because it limits the scope of the amount of minutes he can even play. In a perfect world the Wizards could get 15-to-20 solid minutes from Luke Walton All-Star Garrett Temple, and Beal could just dominate against second units, but the problem is that the clock has struck midnight on Temple’s Cinderella season. Against the Cavaliers, Temple played 27 minutes and save for one block, was completely shutout of any other statistical category. Do you know how hard it is to play 27 minutes of NBA basketball, and not log any points, rebounds, assists, or steals? It’s damn near impossible.

Maybe it’s time Wittman switched up the starting lineup, and if past behavior is indicative of future outcome, that change could be coming soon. Wittman did go with Beal to start the second half in Cleveland, a move that he has employed in past weeks when he would start Markieff in the second half over Jared Dudley. Wittman probably knows that Beal should be starting, but with the Wizards having a 7-3 record since the All-Star break there really wasn’t a need to switch up what has seemingly  been working. But now that there are only 21 games left, the Wizards can not afford anymore hiccups. Why not put the best lineup out there?

There is still so much to play for, despite Friday night’s game leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of Wizards fans. But if we’re being honest with ourselves here, the loss was tolerable considering the Wizards’ low strength of schedule going forward. (John Wall, who jammed his ankle in Cleveland, and others also got a bit more rest due to the blowout.) Time to move on to the next one, which is a much more important match-up with the Indiana Pacers, who are competing for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots. The Wizards are still trying to find that sense of urgency that many have been looking for, and now is their chance to execute and actualize team goals from the beginning of the season.


Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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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.