Wizards Win Streak Snapped Due to Poor Execution Offensively | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Win Streak Snapped Due to Poor Execution

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Updated: November 17, 2018

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

The Wizards went into the game against the Brooklyn Nets riding high on a three-game win streak and poised to extend that streak against a so-called inferior opponent. But in classic #SoWizards fashion, they were blown out on their home floor. Maybe the Wizards overlooked a Nets team who came into the game reeling emotionally over losing their best player to a gruesome leg injury earlier in the week, or maybe the Wizards just exhibited their frustrating brand of inconsistency that has plagued them this season (and last season, and the season before that, and the one before that, and….)

Whatever the reason was, the Wizards were simply outplayed by a team who came in with a game plan and executed it to perfection. Scott Brooks admitted as much during his post-game remarks: “They were better tonight. The score says that and the game dictated that as well. We have to regroup, figure out ways to get better tomorrow, and come back Sunday. We had some bad turnovers. Some of the turnovers led to basically one-on-zero breaks.”

In the first half, the Wizards kept the game close and trailed by just two at halftime, but the chinks in the armor were still evident and ultimately led to Washington being run out of the gym in the third quarter. They settled for entirely too many mid-range jumpers in the first half and had the offensive shot profile of a Randy Wittman-coached team–not the “pace and space” shot selection that Scott Brooks has been imploring his team to take since training camp.

John Wall was guilty of this by repeatedly pulling up in transition from the foul line extended, as opposed to passing the ball to open teammates. When asked after the game why the Wizards took so many mid-range jumpers instead of looking for their 3-point shooters, Wall lamented the fact that Brooklyn kind of dictated where the ball would go with their defensive coverages: “They were going to drop their bigs, they just kept their weak side defenders at home on the shooters, so we had to get our threes in transition on drives and kicks and that’s it.”

Wall was correct in saying that the Nets were dropping their bigs, but he was incorrect in saying that they had to get their 3s in transition on drives and kicks exclusively. There were opportunities for the Wizards to generate offense and create 3-point shots, but they were squandered away by poor offensive execution. The Wizards committed just 13 turnovers but those giveaways led to 19 points for Brooklyn. They repeatedly gave the ball away when attempting to commit dribble handoffs (DHO) at the top of the key and the Nets guards were jumping the passing lanes when the Wizards big men tried to get the ball back to the guard. Some of those DHOs were blown up because of poor spacing, while others were simply due to careless passing.

After the game, Bradley Beal talked to the media about the need to get defensive stops that lead to transition baskets and generate more 3s, but he also noted the team’s need to improve half court sets.

“I think we’ve got to play a little bit faster. A lot of our 3s we get in transition. So, getting stops, getting out in transition and getting easy shots. Doing a better job in our half court sets, so more cuts and screening and just being ready at all times,” Beal said. “We’ve got to be a lot more aggressive. I think sometimes we settle for too many jumpers, so getting to the basket more.”

The lack of defensive stops was a major problem for the team, and Scott Brooks kept it simple when pointing out what went wrong: “The problem was that we couldn’t stay in front of the basketball tonight. Joe Harris had his way, [Spencer] Dinwiddie had his way, [Allen] Crabbe had his way, [Shabazz] Napier had his way. We couldn’t stay in front of the basketball tonight and on top of that we couldn’t make any shots.”

Beal admitted that the Wizards settled for too many jumpers, and was just as guilty of falling in love with his mid-range jumper tonight. The offensive sets were not crisp as and that was direct result of uninspired screens and poor spacing. Part of that is on Dwight Howard, who missed all of training camp and the first seven games of the season with a backside injury that is still bothering him enough that he can’t even sit down on the bench when he isn’t in the game.

Howard has not built up the same on-court chemistry that Wall and Beal once had with Marcin Gortat, let alone enough chemistry to allow the team to even run their regular offense. The only way to solve the chemistry issue is to get on-court experience with Howard, who is steadily getting his legs back underneath of him and is doing whatever it is possible to make sure that he is ready to compete at a high level every night. He had 25 points and 17 rebounds in just 27 minutes of play before fouling out with 4:07 left in the game. After the game was over and he gave his media availability, Howard changed out of his uniform and went back out to the Capital One Arena court to get some extra work in.

The Wizards should have and could have executed better, but at least there was no finger-pointing after the loss and no passive aggressive messages about players looking for their shots. Maybe they are growing as a team?

There’s a lot of talk about what the Wiz need to do to find success, on both ends. Now all they have to do is go out and apply it—starting on Sunday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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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.