Bullets on Wizards: 2 OTs, 1 Victory, Lots of Uncertainty — Preseason Game 2 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Bullets on Wizards: 2 OTs, 1 Victory, Lots of Uncertainty — Preseason Game 2

By
Updated: October 7, 2016

On a night when the other sports viewing options were a Cardinals vs. 49ers NFL football game, a Cleveland vs. Boston MLB playoff game, and a Donald Trump Town Hall, the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers went to not one but two overtimes—in an NBA preseason game.  The Wizards were ultimately victorious, 125-119, and Scott Brooks earned his first “win” as head coach in Washington.

Contrary to the first preseason game when there were more negatives than positives, there were a few more bright spots to be gleaned from the victory in Philly. However, some troublesome trends seem to be developing as well.

The rundown: On the first day of training camp, Brooks made it clear that shoring up the defense was first on his to-do list. The Wizards focused on positioning, closeouts, and fully utilizing their unique mix of both length and size. Their first opportunity to put this defensive philosophy to the test did not go so well, as the Wizards gave up 61 points in the first half against the Heat (they played slightly better in the second half).

Now, in the first quarter of Thursday night’s game against the less talented Sixers, the Wizards gave up 30 points (on 52% shooting), thanks to the lack of the very principles Brooks tried to establish in training camp. When T.J. McConnell would blow by Trey Burke and get into the paint, no other Wizards player was there to rotate and provide assistance. When Robert Covington or Dario Saric had open perimeter shots, the closeouts were two steps slow. Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi played stellar individual defense on Joel Embiid, not letting him establish position in the paint, but even that was more a function of Embiid’s lack of experience and decisiveness.

In the fourth quarter and two overtime periods, the Wizards lineup of  Tomas Satoransky, Sheldon McClellan (more on him later), Kelly Oubre, Danuel House and Daniel Ochefu did step up the defensive intensity, which bodes well for the Wizards bench. But for the starters to lay two consecutive first-quarter defensive eggs has to be disappointing to Coach Brooks—with or without the presence of John Wall.

Let’s bullet, shall we?

  • Marcin Gortat, who has to be missing Wall’s ability to make his paint life easier, played better against the Sixers than he did in Miami. He did not look as overmatched defensively or athletically against Joel Embiid as he did against Hassan Whiteside, and he seemed to up to the challenge of slowing the rookie. On offense, Gortat was at his best when he rolled toward the basket and used his quickness to maneuver past Embiid and the other Sixers big men. When he opted for the more traditional post-up moves, Gortat did not look as fluid but, again, it was difficult to ascertain whether that was preseason rust or the Embiid effect.
  • Bradley Beal, who also has to be missing his usual backcourt mate, shot just 25 percent and was unable to get into any sort of offensive rhythm. He shot 3-of-10 in the first half and scored just nine points, and he was scoreless in eight minutes in the third quarter. Coach Brooks increased his minutes limit to 23 without incident, and at times, Beal was Wall-ian in his ability to push coast-to-coast and find open teammates in the corner. Beal also demonstrated his defensive versatility when Philly’s set switches caused him to be matched up against Dario Saric and Jerami Grant on successive possessions in the third quarter. When Saric had him in the post, Beal bodied him and forced Saric to give up the ball. And while Beal tried the same tactic against the bigger, stronger Grant, and got beat for a dunk, his willingness to defend bigger men was encouraging to see.

Porter vs. Oubre.

  • Scott Brooks has said this will be a healthy competition and, through two games, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre are consistent in who they are. Oubre (game-high 24 points) gambles on defense, tries to drive through two, even three, defenders, and sometimes leaves his feet without a plan. But in the first quarter, when no other Wizard had any offensive game, it was Oubre who scored 10 points (including consecutive 3-pointers) in seven minutes to bring the Wizards within striking distance. During the second overtime, Oubre had a steal, an assist, and a layup in the first 30 seconds to give the Wizards a bit of breathing room, and later he hit a runner off the glass to seal the game with 1:26 left. At times he played like he was in a rush, but in the second half—particularly in the fourth quarter and overtime periods when Oubre knew he was going to be on the floor—he settled down and played more confidently. For now, he should continue to come off the bench because…
  • Otto Porter played a quiet yet efficient game in his 27 minutes of play. He didn’t have a flashy steal, and he didn’t make it to the free throw line, but he was reliable. On two different occasions he maneuvered his way into the paint to score from offensive rebounds—he had six total rebounds to go along with eight points. More importantly, he let the game come to him, rather than forcing the issue.
  • [Ed. Note: Oubre also pulled a “JaVale McGee” when, at the end of regulation with the Wizards up one point—with the ball and less than 20 seconds on the game clock—Oubre recklessly dribbled up the court, lost the ball, and then immediately committed a foul. Watch it here.]

Satoransky vs. Burke.

https://twitter.com/MikePradaSBN/status/784190473497870336

  • Where the Porter vs. Oubre battle is one of personal preference, fit, even style versus substance, the Satoranksy vs. Burke “battle” is much simple: Tomas Satoranksy plays like a veteran guard, while Trey Burke still plays like an unexperienced rookie. Burke would push the ball up the court, pass to Beal, Porter, or Morris, and then get lost on the floor without guiding the offense or moving them into their sets. Satoranky pushed the ball up the court, directed traffic, utilized his options off the pick-and-roll, and looked to dump the ball off to the big men, whether it was Gortat rolling to the basket or Daniel Ochefu looking for the alley-oop. On defense, Burke had problems staying in front of McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez and he was frequently out of position—although he did pick up the intensity in the third quarter, when he was presumably still riding the emotional wave from the half-court shot he sunk before halftime. Satoransky used his height and length to distract McConnell and Rodriguez, and if he found himself on a bigger man via a switch, he more than held his own. Assuming John Wall does not play against the Knicks on Monday, Satoransky has earned the right to start, and perhaps lead the Wizards to a faster start on both ends of the floor.
  • Sheldon McClellan is not as big as Satoransky, and he did not get a chance to run with the starters like Burke, but he was far and away the MVP of the game. He scored 20 points in 32 minutes, he got to the free throw line a game-high 11 times, and he boldly tried to win the game during regulation (he was hit on a shot but a foul was not called). He played with energy when he was asked to run the point, but he was just as comfortable playing the two-guard off of Satoransky. Just as Satoransky maybe deserves to start (instead of Burke), McClellan deserves a shot at running the reserves.

Notes.

  • John Wall does not know who Truth About It is:

  • Danuel House was perhaps the front runner to make the Wizards roster after summer league, but last night his shooting touch betrayed him. He shot just 1-for-6 from the field (1-for-4 from the 3-point line) and he looked out of control for most of the game. With McClellan’s emergence, he may not be a sure-shot to make the roster.
  • Ian Mahinmi saw his first preseason action; he played 12 minutes and managed to manhandle Embiid on defense, dunk on Embiid, and also pick up three fouls in two minutes.

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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.