Opening Statements 14: Wizards at Magic — Thanksgiving Stuffed | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements 14: Wizards at Magic — Thanksgiving Stuffed

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Updated: November 25, 2016

Washington Wizards vs Orlando Magic

The Ramblin’ Washington Wizards are back in post-Thanksgiving action. This time against the Magic in Orlando, after three days off. I’m going to go ahead and call it: this is a must-win. Let me explain.

The Wizards are 4-9 and the Magic have two more games—both wins—under their belt at 6-9. One of those wins came against Washington, then visiting Florida for their fifth game of the season. In that loss, John Wall didn’t play in the second of this first back-to-back set of the season (after a Hawks win at home), and Tomas Satoransky started in his place. The rookie Sato played well, and fellow starters played OK enough to beat Orlando. But the bench, oh that bench—Marcus was Thornton minus-14, Trey Burke minus-14, and Jason Smith minus-16. The end result was a bad, two-point loss, blown by the whole team in an otherwise dominating night, even if there were signs of life. This chart from NBA.com explains it:

20161105-wizards-magic-lead-tracker

Orlando has truly had an up-and-down season. Three losses out the gate, then three wins in a row, three losses in a row, then winning 3-of-4 (including one in OKC), and now they are losers of two in a row, versus Milwaukee and Phoenix.

Jeff Green, who scored 18 points off the bench versus the Wizards in that Nov. 5 win, was inserted into Orlando’s starting lineup seven games ago for Aaron Gordon and the Magic have gone 3-4. Green and fellow starters Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Serge Ibaka, and Nikola Vucevic have averaged plus-1 and 17.6 minutes per game during this stretch.

The Wizards have, well actually, won 2-of-3 games. Their starters have averaged plus-7.7 and 14.4 minutes per game over those three. The bench has been … still not good. The usual suspects, per game: Jason Smith, minus-3.7 in 9.4 minutes; Marcus Thornton, minus-3.3 in 20.5 minutes; and Kelly Oubre, minus-1.0 in 20.9 minutes. Trey Burke is only minus-1, but saw just six minutes of action in the Phoenix win. And Andrew Nicholson has averaged a pleasant, if you will, plus-3.5 in six minutes versus each New York and Miami.

Scott Brooks is still searching hard for the right combinations while hoping that John Wall and Bradley Beal find their way. Together Wall and Beal have averaged 56.3 points, 14.3 assists, 4.0 turnovers, 13.6 free throw attempts (87.8%), and 14.3 3-point attempts (48.8%) over the last three games. Quite good numbers, and certainly an improvement.

On the season, these two teammates of four years and counting are just plus-2 over 252 minutes on the court together. Wall is plus-2 in 117 minutes without Beal; Beal is plus-2 in 77 minutes without Wall.

Against New York, Miami, and Phoenix, they are plus-9 in 95 minutes together. Wall is plus-7 in 11 minutes without Beal; Beal is minus-1 in 14 minutes without Wall.

The Wizards are still no closer to a breaking point—it’s still early but at what point is it not? After Orlando, they will face the Spurs and then the Kings at home. Then they kick off a three-game road trip starting in San Antonio, then Oklahoma City, before somehow ending up in Brooklyn. And up until a Dec. 18 meeting at home versus the Clippers, current owners of the NBA’s best record (14-2), the Wizards have a winnable stretch of home games versus Orlando, Denver, Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Detroit, with a road trip to Miami sandwiched in between.

If the Wizards don’t go 8-4 or even 9-3 over the next 12 games, pushing their record to near .500 at 12-13 or 13-12, they you can’t say they are any closer to finding direction.

After that Clippers game, from mid-December thru January, the Wizards face a much tougher slate of opponents, atop 12 of 22 on the road and five-back-to-back sets. And let’s not forget March and April, when Washington ends the season with 16 road games to just eight home games.

But, per usual, it starts with this most immediate, post-Thanksgiving contest. Unfortunately, history doesn’t bode well there, either. Since 2000, in games on or immediately after Thanksgiving, the Wizards are 3-12—six at home (2-4) and nine on the road (1-8). In other words, they are due. The closing details:

  • 2015 Loss to Celtics in Boston
  • 2014 Win over Pelicans at home
  • 2013 Loss to Pacers in Indiana
  • 2012 Loss (2 OT) to Bobcats at home
  • 2011 No game played (lockout)
  • 2010 Loss to Hawks in Atlanta (on Thanksgiving; lost to Magic at home in next game)
  • 2009 Win over Heat at home
  • 2008 Loss to Magic at home (on Thanksgiving; lost to Hawks at home in next game)
  • 2007 Loss to Warriors at home
  • 2006 Loss to Grizzlies in Memphis
  • 2005 Win (2 OT) over Pistons in Detroit
  • 2004 Loss to 76ers (OT) in Philadelphia
  • 2003 Loss to Pistons at home
  • 2002 Loss to Pacers in Indiana
  • 2001 Loss to Pacers in Indiana (on Thanksgiving; beat Boston (OT) at home in next game)
  • 2000 Loss to Pacers in Indiana

 

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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 lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.