Game 1, Wizards at Hawks — Washington Waves White Flag in Atlanta | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Game 1, Wizards at Hawks — Washington Waves White Flag in Atlanta

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Updated: October 28, 2016

TAI’s highlights from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Hawks, Game 1, October 27, 2016, via Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace).

If you only watched the first half of Washington’s season opener, I envy you. You probably went to sleep with visions of Markieff Morris midrange jumpers, Bradley Beal hesitation moves and John Wall dimes dancing through your head. Granted, your dreams might also have been haunted by Dwight Howard offensive rebounds.

Washington and Atlanta played a relatively even first half. That is to say, both teams were equally disjointed and took turns going on mini-runs followed by mini-droughts. The halftime statistics were a little misleading.

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Washington shot 47 percent with 16 assists and held Atlanta to 39 percent shooting. However, it is the final stat on the list that gives you the clearest picture: Washington was destroyed on the glass, giving up 12 offensive rebounds. The Hawks were able to score 57 points on sub-40 percent shooting because they scored 15 second-chance points.

Washington did a better job on the offensive boards in the second half, but that is partly because Atlanta did not miss nearly as many shots.

The cold, unforgiving play-by-play shows that the game was lost in the fourth quarter when Atlanta went on a 24-4 run over a seven-minute stretch beginning with 10:40 remaining in the game. That is correct, in a clinical sense. But Washington’s collapse was so much more than a chronological list of missed jumpers, bad passes and Atlanta 3-pointers.

If you only read the transcript of the game, you would have no idea if Atlanta’s 3-pointers were hotly contested (they weren’t), if Washington’s turnovers were self-inflicted (they were), or if Washington’s starters gave up well before the game was decided (they did).

It is the last point that is so disappointing. Washington was only 40 minutes into the 2016-17 NBA season and they were already walking back on defense, shrugging their shoulders after blown defensive assignments and lazily contesting jumpers.

For those who require visual proof with their recaps, here you go:

Take that in for a second. Washington, the team that was so excited to start a new season under Scott Brooks, quit in the first game of the year. And Beal, one of the main offenders, seemed to know it. How is that even possible?

The optimists will point out that this was just the first game of a long 82 game season. That’s certainly true. This game will no more doom the Wizards’ season than a victory against Memphis on Sunday will save it. But it is also true that the only games we can evaluate are the ones that have been played. And this one was not good.

One silver lining in all this hand wringing is that part of the blame can be placed on Beal’s foul trouble. Beal picked up his fourth foul two and a half minutes into the third quarter and he did not return until 10:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. This threw Brooks’ rotations out of whack, most notably resulting in Marcus Thornton playing 20 minutes. According to Comcast SportsNet’s J. Michael, Beal said after the loss, “It definitely would’ve been a different game if I wasn’t in foul trouble.”

However, it should be noted that when Beal sat in the third quarter Washington led 65-61. When he returned, the Wizards still led 82-81. The foul trouble definitely threw off Beal’s rhythm, but it was not the chief cause of this loss.

The excuses did not end with Beal. Both Jason Smith and John Wall said after the game that the second unit had difficulty hearing the play calls from Trey Burke. Really?

At least Smith and Wall identified the problem (poor bench play), if not the cause (lack of talent). For what it’s worth, Tomas Satoransky has a deep, booming voice.

Scott Brooks, via J. Michael, also diagnosed the problem with the second unit:

“I thought that second unit, we still have to figure out how we can score. We have to really just focus on getting stops helping us score. … It was an entire team issue. We’re all in it together. We have to figure out how to keep scoring, keep moving the ball with that second unit.”

However, Brooks stopped short of naming the obvious solution. The second unit is a hodgepodge of jump shooters (Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith) and whatever you want to call Kelly Oubre. As a group, they are rudderless. There is no ball movement with the second unit because there are no ball movers on the second unit.

This would be a very bad problem for the Wizards if not for the fact that they have a very good ball mover on the bench. His name is Tomas Satoransky and he signed a three-year contract this summer. He even has his own hashtag: #FreeSato.

The ills of the second unit can be cured by playing Satoransky at point guard alongside a shooter in the backcourt (perhaps Trey Burke, perhaps Sheldon McClellan, perhaps Marcus Thornton on a night when the microwave is functioning, or perhaps one of Ernie’s famous in-season free agent signings).

Washington fans will have to wait until Sunday against Memphis to see how Brooks handles these first mini-crises of his Wizards tenure. Until then, they are left to stare blankly out the window and repeat the mantra, “It’s only one game…. It’s only one game…. It’s only one game….

“It’s only one game…”

 

Thumbnail image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.