Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bulls, Game 67 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bulls, Game 67

Updated: March 16, 2016

Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls - Dec. 29, 2012 - Truth About

Teams: Wizards vs Bulls
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 6 points

Nobody saw that coming.

I should clarify. A handful of people, myself included, predicted the Wizards to beat the Pistons on Monday night. But nobody—and I mean not one person in the world—figured they’d score a season-high 124 points and drown Detroit by 43 points. It was Washington’s biggest win over the Pistons in franchise history, spanning 273 games.

“In the games we lost, all teams did was run pick-and-roll for most of the game, and we couldn’t find a way to stop it,” John Wall said afterward.

The pick-and-roll. The Wizards, in their own words, have been failing Basketball 101.

“When we do the way we did tonight—helping, chipping, taking away passing lanes and driving lanes—it makes the defense a lot tougher.”

He was right. Look at the fight in ‘em:

Now, despite the Wizards offense zipping the ball around like they were the Spurs, the biggest takeaway from Monday’s victory was that Randy Wittman, in Game 66 after five straight losses, changed the strategy on defense.

“Coach simplified what he wants us to do on a pick-and-roll,” John Wall said. “We was doing the opposite first of giving up layups first and then try to protect the paint and then giving up 3s. You’re never going to win a game like that.”

In case you missed it: The Wizards were previously cool with giving up layups. Now they’re not! Give the head coach a 10-year extension, because he deserves it. (1)

On the Verizon Center floor after the game, young Otto Porter, being interviewed by CSN, said: ‘We learned that maybe we don’t suck so bad.’ Endearing!

Meanwhile, the rest of his teammates had already walked off the court like this:


So, the feel from team media (at least my interpretation, having skimmed headlines) is that the Wiz Kids are back on track. But that’s a stretch that would make even Mister Fantastic blush. One win after five consecutive losses is a step in the right direction, but little more. The Wizards, in a deep and dark hole they’ve dug themselves, have now climbed onto the first rung of a ladder propped up against the muddy wall and want to celebrate.

It was one … good … game. See, despite manufacturing a massive 43-point win at home, the Wizards still have a negative differential (-2) in the last five games.

And they’re nowhere close to being favorites for the 8-seed.

Playoff Odds Before Blowout Win

FiveThirtyEight: 11.0%
Basketball-Reference: 3.2%
ESPN BI Playoff Odds: 4.1%

Playoff Odds After Blowout Win

FiveThirtyEight: 17.0%
Basketball-Reference: 6.3%
ESPN BI Playoff Odds: 7.0%

Tonight, the Wizards face off against the Chicago Bulls, the team DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THEM in the playoff race, for third and final time this season. Whichever team wins will take the season series.

Still sidelined (2) for Chicago: Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, the only player in the Association this season to have multiple games with at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. But back in the rotation are two players who missed the previous game: Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Butler suiting up is a problem, with no one on the Wizards capable of checking him. And Rose is a different player since the All-Star break, scoring more points, shooting better from the field (including from 3-point land) and dishing more assists.

Speaking of assists: Since the All-Star break, 63.4 percent of Chicago’s made field goals have been assisted. That’s the third highest percent behind only the Warriors (.677) and the Hawks (.667). They’re also (tied for) third in assists per game at 25.5, behind the Warriors (29.1) and the Mavericks (26.0).

The Wizards rank 14th in both categories with an AST% of .587 and 23.5 assists per game.

Those are your pre-game pixels.

It’s another—dare I say it?—must-win game for Washington. Trouble is, must-win games don’t seem to mean much in terms of team performance.

  1. I’m kidding.
  2. The Bulls are one of five teams in the NBA this season (along with Charlotte, Philadelphia, Denver and Utah) to not yet play a game with all of their top roster players available.
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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.