Opening Statements 07: Wizards vs Celtics — Searching for Respect from a 1-5 Hole | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements 07: Wizards vs Celtics — Searching for Respect from a 1-5 Hole

Updated: November 9, 2016

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics - Nov. 7, 2012 - Truth About

Not sure how you feel about the 2016 U.S. presidential election results, but don’t necessarily look to the sporting efforts of the Washington Wizards for any kind of reprieve.

They are looking pretty pitiful with a 1-5 record. The offense has been bad and the defense has been worse—much worse. For three quarters of games they will hang with an opponent, even while looking poorly coordinated. And when the balance of the contest really counts, they fold, wilt, and recoil.

Tonight’s opponent, the Boston Celtics, swept the Wizards 4-zip last season. Three losses were by a combined margin of 78 points. The other loss in mid-January came by just two points—Kelly Oubre (then, as now, relatively lost on defense) blew his assignment to give Boston the lead with a few ticks left; and John Wall went the length of the court in about three seconds but missed a point-blank layup that would’ve forced OT.

In the aftermath the Wizards were a baffled mess. Wall heaped praise on Boston coach Brad Stevens for, when the Celtics were on defense, calling out Washington’s offense plays that the Wizards didn’t think opponents had ever seen. And in another other light, he praised for Stevens calling offensive plays for his own team that had Washington, well, fooled. Wall also credited Boston for “doing the dirty things to help their team win.”

You don’t ask for respect, you earn it. Just ask Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. He was selected with the very last pick of the 2011 draft (No. 60), has been traded twice in his career (one involved Marcus Thornton), has worn three different NBA jerseys, and for the first time last season, was named an All-Star. Thomas has earned respect. He’s now featured in promo posters alongside the likes of LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and other stars.

And not to say that John Wall hasn’t earned respect with his play (winning aside), but every so often an article nonetheless surfaces using Wall’s words as a catalyst to ask for that respect. The latest: “They still don’t respect me … I’m going to let people know this season.”

But nobody really cares about you unless your team does the talking, first. You can talk about Washington’s bench, Wall’s teammates otherwise, and the fact that the seventh-year guard is putting up a career-high in PER (24.8, 4.0 better than his previous career-high which came in season three). And you can also talk about how Wall, over 172 total minutes on the season, is minus-11 (which, actually, shines over a team full of negatives, except for Tomas Satoransky and little-used Sheldon McClellan and Daniel Ochefu) … while chewing on this: 11 of those 172 minutes have come in “clutch time” during which, you guessed it, Wall is also minus-11. So he’s been a scratch player when his team isn’t ahead or behind by five points or less in the last five minutes.

Something else to digest: Wall has faced little 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas 11 times over his career—five times versus Sacramento, two times versus Phoenix, and four times versus Boston. Wall’s Wizards have won exactly one of those games, a nine-point win over the Kings in February 2014. Respect.

Boston visits Washington with an unsatisfying 3-3 record and losers of two in a row (a six-point loss in Cleveland last Thursday and a 16-point loss to Denver at home on Sunday). Al Horford has missed the last three games with concussion-like symptoms and Jae Crowder has missed two due to an ankle injury. Neither will face the Wizards on Wednesday but the much-improved Kelly Olynyk is expected to make his debut after missing all games to-date while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

For the Wizards, Ian Mahinmi, the second-most prized summertime acquisition after Scott Brooks, is nearly a month out from knee surgery and is increasing his rehab regimen, but there is still no timetable on his return. It was also suspected that Wall could get suspended for tonight’s contest after bumping into a referee toward the end of the Houston game, but he was fined $25K for an “inappropriate interaction” instead.

Stat-heads Kevin Broom and Neil Greenberg have each produced well-done analytical pieces slamming the poor early efforts of the Wizards. And some of the issues come down to just that, effort. But also as the season as unfolds there is a growing sense that a) Washington doesn’t have the necessary tools in their kit; and b) the talent they do have just isn’t ready to lead. Every next game is a chance to turn things around, but at that point how deep might the hole be?

Stat Bullets

23 three-man units have seen 25 or more minutes for the Wizards so far this season.

Worst 3:

  • Burke – Oubre – Nicholson (28 mins): -35.9 per 36.
  • Burke – Oubre – Smith (25 mins): -35.3 per 36.
  • Burke – Thornton – Nicholson (27 mins): -33.7 per 36.

Best 3:

  • Beal – Satoransky – Gortat (49 mins): +15.5 per 36.
  • Satoransky – Morris – Gortat (31 mins): +11.8 per 36.
  • Satoransky – Beal – Morris (31 mins): +8.2 per 36.

Most used: 

  • Beal – Porter – Gortat (161 mins): -5.4 per 36.
  • Beal – Morris – Gortat (152 mins): -4.3 per 36.
  • Beal – Porter – Morris (152 mins): -5.0 per 36.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.