Where, Oh Where, Have The Tough Wizards Gone? | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Where, Oh Where, Have The Tough Wizards Gone?

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Updated: March 22, 2017

The Wizards have lost four of five games and since the All-Star break they are a measly 8-6. Remember that 2-8 start now?

Still, this is a different team, even if it shares some of the same 2016 struggles. To paraphrase Adam Rubin’s recent piece, “6 Reasons Why The Wizards Did Not Peak Too Early,” let’s everybody chill.

But what’s to be gleaned from the last two losses in Charlotte and Boston?

What’s concerning is that with the Celtics throwing the first punch, not only were the Wizards unable to muster a true counter, but it was also apparent that they didn’t have the muscle. (Although mindset has long overcome such.) Marcin Gortat’s physical contribution is mostly sprints on the break and slap-out rebounds. Markieff Morris has a silent toughness, strong but not necessarily making the other team recoil. Jason Smith is probably the second-most physical Wizard but he’s also a magnet for fouls (leads team with 8.1 per 100 possessions — two more than Kelly Oubre!). And Ian Mahinmi is capable of snarling defense, but sometimes gets lost in (and can only do so much against) Boston’s multi-pronged attack.

John Wall is tougher than the average bear, by far — and would win the award of toughest Wizard, but that is still saying something when that’s your point guard. Kelly Oubre and Bojan Bogdanovic are punch-the-clock tough, Otto Porter and Tomas Satoransky are too nice to be tough, and Brandon Jennings only has pest-like toughness.

Boston, this time, had their full contingent. Al Horford and Jae Crowder both missed the first meeting (a Wizards blowout win). Avery Bradley missed each of the next two meetings, a split. And the fourth game between these sour stage rivals, Bradley was part of setting the tone with 11 first-quarter points (to counter Beal’s 12 first-quarter points) to go with his three offensive rebounds. Avery Bradley helped hold Bradley Beal to just seven points after the first quarter on Monday, while scoring nine on his own. The Celtics outrebounded the Wizards 5-1 on the offensive glass in the first quarter and 20-8 for the game. That’s tough.

The Wizards missed 49 shots in the game, the Celtics missed 54. Yet, Boston was tracked as having 35 offensive rebound “chances” — more than doubling up Washington’s 17 chances. Meaning, the Celtics much more often put themselves in position to chase, and procure, offensive rebounds. The strategy paid off. Brad Stevens’ team had a 22-16 advantage in second-chance points, but just gave up 11 fastbreak points to Washington (with Boston scoring 12 fastbreak points of their own).

In Charlotte, the game — the score — was ugly, but it was a good contest. The Wizards led 20-19 after one quarter and 40-39 after two quarters. They also let Cody Zeller out-”tough” them. Or rather, Washington’s attentiveness didn’t respect the opponent. Well actually, hard to say that since they have been in a defensive daze since the All-Star break, regardless of opponent. How do you just allow Zeller to slice a lane and have his way in the paint like this?

It’s too simple to claim: Tonight, against the Hawks, the Wizards need to find some toughness. But that’s sort of it. Not necessarily physically, mouth-punching toughness — although that’s part of getting an opponent on their heels and making them react. But that’s kind of it. There’s also the mental toughness — the “mental physicality” Wittman always talked about — of simply concentrating, which is hard to do. And tough. But that’s a “fixable” problem, as they say. If they don’t, tough luck.

 

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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.