Fourth Quarter Collapse Leaves The Wizards Limping to the Finish Line | Wizards Blog Truth About

Fourth Quarter Collapse Leaves The Wizards Limping to the Finish Line

Updated: April 6, 2018

The Washington Wizards put their fanbase through the full gamut emotions with their 119-115 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.

The game began with the Cavaliers working over the Wizards in the first quarter because, once again, Scott Brooks started with a flawed defensive scheme. He decided to double-team LeBron James at the beginning of the game, which is a perplexing strategy with the Marcin Gortat on the floor.

Gortat has the foot speed of a man running in quicksand and his lack of reaction time allowed the Cavaliers–specifically Kevin Love–to get as many open 3s as their hearts desired. Love buried three 3-pointers in the first quarter as Gortat failed to come remotely close on closing out on his man. Part of that is his aforementioned lack of quickness, but a larger part of that falls at the feet of Scott Brooks who panicked and decided to double-team LeBron after not doubling at all in a 57-point performance from the King earlier this season.

When Gortat was removed, Ian Mahinmi helped the team competently defend the Cavaliers offense in the second quarter. He provided rim protection which enabled the Wizards to fly around the perimeter and defend the 3-point line. Ian finished the game with a plus/minus of plus-6, but only played 11 minutes, none of which came in the second half which is also another knock on Scott Brooks’ coaching job last night. Brooks elected to not play his backup center in the fourth quarter of a game in which they led by 17 points. The lack of rim-protection exposed them to one of the greatest rim-attackers of all-time in LeBron James.

A Comeback That Defies All Logic

What the Cavaliers were able to do to the Wizards in the last six minutes defies all logic and reasoning of how basketball games are supposed to end. With a 16-point lead and less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Wizards should have been able to wrap that game up and get their starters some rest before the back-to-back matchup with the Atlanta Hawks tonight. Instead, the team fought for their lives until the final buzzer and in the process had one of the biggest meltdowns of the season.

Scott Brooks elected to finish the game with Markieff Morris and Mike Scott as his center and power forward combination, and this duo has not had much of any success on the season. The combo of Keef and Scott have a net rating of minus-13.7 in 141 minutes played this season. It’s perplexing that Brooks would allow one of the best finishers in the history of the NBA to attack the rim at will because of non-existent rim protection.

Even more perplexing is Brooks’ inability to draw up plays in the final two minutes of games, especially for Otto Porter. The Wizards late-game offense consists of John Wall and Bradley Beal isolations which has yielded very little positive results in end of games situations. It’s not as if the Wizards do not know that Wall and Beal have not had as much success in the clutch this season. TAI’s Bryan Frantz penned an article earlier in the year highlighting the All-Star duo’s struggles late in games, in which Wall famously replied:

Well, the season is nearly over and the Wizards are still doing the same things, expecting different results. The frustrating thing about their late-game situations is that it is completely different from how they play the rest of the game. Washington has adopted the motto “Everybody Eats” as an ode to how much they pass the ball and get everyone involved, but consistently run isolation plays at the end of games. (The team’s so-called prevent offense seems to kick in around the eight-minute mark of games in which they lead.) Beal and Wall take 2.8 and 2.4 shots respectively, per game in clutch situations. Those shot attempts result in 31 and 34% shooting from the field, which is not good enough in close games. The Wizards third “max” player is receiving less than half of those attempts in clutch situation (0.9 FGA’s) while shooting considerably better at 43%.

John Wall made a few terrible decisions in the waning moments of last nights game and when asked about why he didn’t take a layup attempt over Jeff Green and instead decided to pass the ball at the last second, which resulted in a turnover, Wall responded by saying he didn’t shoot the layup because he knew he wouldn’t get the call.

This answer is almost as egregious as the play itself. John Wall, an All-Star, cannot let his assumption of whether he’ll get a call determine whether he’ll attack. Wall’s decision to pass the ball in that situation was a poor one, and this is becoming a common theme in his return to the team. In the three games that Wall has been back, he is averaging six turnovers per game, and is still working to regain the chemistry with his teammates. Washington came into this season wanting the respect of a contending team, but all they have done is provide more of the same inconsistency that has plagued this franchise for the last 40 years.

Not much has changed and the season will be over before we know it, buddies.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.