Wizards Bench Backs Up Rivers' Talk in Win Over Pistons | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Bench Backs Up Rivers’ Talk in Win Over Pistons

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Updated: October 11, 2018

One of the unwritten rules in the ever-evolving world of journalism states that if a writer criticizes a player or coach on any given team, he or she must show their face at practice or in the locker room the next day. The criticized player may choose to ignore the critical writer or there could be conflict.  But the writer should show up regardless.

Players are not bound by that specific contract, but typically when a player talks trash about someone else or talks in a braggadocios manner about their own game, they should be able to back it up—or walk it like they talk it.

In a recent interview with CBS Sports, Austin Rivers had this to say when asked about the Wizards bench, which has been notoriously punch-less in recent years:

That’s not gonna be a problem no more. Yeah, this is my first year here, man. I feel like a lot of the shit I did last year was discredited just because I played for my pops. I’m going from being a starter to being a bench player this year, I have to adjust my mindset. But I think between me and Kelly [Oubre] off the bench; and then you’ve got guys like Tomas Satoransky, who’s just a solid player, man; Jeff Green, a veteran player; our bench can be one of the more elite teams. They went from not having a really good bench to having a powerful bench. This is why I think we have a chance to compete with the best teams: because of our depth.

Last night’s game against the Detroit Pistons was the first opportunity Rivers and his bench colleagues had to prove those words to be true, and for nearly a quarter and a half, they did just that.

The lineup of Jason Smith, Jeff Green, Kelly Oubre, Tomas Satoransky and Rivers entered the game in staggered fashion towards the end of the first quarter but by the 2:24 mark, they were all in the game.  The score was 24-23 in Detroit’s favor. By the time the starters were reinserted, the Wizards bench had successfully turned that one-point deficit into an 11-point lead–and it was truly a group effort.

Jason Smith led the way with nine points during that span (he had 11 points overall), and as Marv Albert would say, he showed the full repertoire. He hit a 3-pointer, he scored from the free throw line, he cut to the basket and received a pretty pass from Satoransky, and he scored via a tip-in. If Dwight Howard were healthy, and if Ian Mahinmi could have temporarily shed his ability to accumulate fouls in bunches (he had five fouls in 11 minutes), Smith would have been firmly planted on the bench. Instead, he made the most of his opportunity, and he may have forced Coach Brooks to include him in his Dwight Howard-less plans.

Satoransky and Rivers took turns running the point for the backup unit, but the fluidity of the offense did not suffer at all either way. Just as he did during his breakout season last year, Satoransky deftly toed that line between finding his teammates and getting his own shot off and had four points and two assists. More importantly, as the Monumental Sports broadcast team pointed out, the bench lineup moved and cut as if they expected to get the ball during each offensive possession, which was a testament to the style of basketball Sato plays. Rivers took a cue from Sato and scored seven points while dishing out three assists. He played under control and seemed to thrive off the ball movement created by Sato.

Kelly Oubre and Jeff Green’s contributions were not quite as demonstrative. Oubre rebounded better than he shot or defended, and Green assisted the ball better than he shot it. But their willingness to stay engaged during an off night is proof that Rivers had every right to brag about the abilities of his bench colleagues.

Coach Brooks primarily went with the starters in the second half of the Wizards 102-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons, but the contributions of the bench early in the game could not be denied. They outscored the Pistons starters/bench players 21-9, they allowed the starters to rest significant minutes and, most importantly, they demonstrated—albeit in preseason in a limited sample size–that true to Austin Rivers’ words, they would be an asset, not a problem.

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.