I think we can all agree that the way our offense has performed in the seven games after trading away all our key scorers is nothing short of remarkable. I think we can also agree that it reflects poorly on the guys we traded away, though to which degree is open to question.
But tonight's loss to Milwaukee underscores one thing that's overlooked: the teams we've played recently are not good defensive teams. Here are the defensive efficiency rank of the team's we've played since the trade, with our offensive efficiency for that game in parenthesis.
Minnesota: 27th (113.7)
Denver: 16th (116.3)
Toronto: 30th (113)
Chicago: 6th (108.6)
Memphis: 23rd (105.6)
New York: 26th (105.5)
New Jersey: 28th (96.7)
There's only one above-average defense in that group, and it was the Bulls, who were playing their fifth game in seven nights and did not have a fully healthy Joakim Noah. Worse, our offense was trending downward anyway, even against very bad defensive teams.
The Bucks are technically ranked lower than the Bulls (8th instead of 6th), but they're easily the toughest defensive matchup of the teams we've played. They were on full rest; the Bulls weren't. They rely on turning you over and pressuring the ball like crazy, which is a tough thing to overcome when you don't have a ton of options. I figured this would be a real test to see how much our execution holds up against a team that won't just let you run its offense. We failed that test.
We failed in part because of sloppiness and in part because of a lack of options. Personally, I'd argue the latter caused the former. Did we make a bunch of dumb passes and poor decisions? Of course we did. However, as of right now, the Wizards don't have anyone who can break a defense down off the dribble. If you do, then you can combat Milwaukee's ball pressure, but the Wizards just don't. Randy Foye can't do it, Earl Boykins can't do it, and Andray Blatche certainly can't do it. Without that luxury, the Bucks could afford to pressure the guards as they tried desperately to get Andray Blatche the ball. The guards, I think, eventually got frustrated and folded. The bigs eventually followed suit. It's bad that they folded, but I really am not sure if there was much that could be done to prevent the conditions that led to them folding.
Especially when Mike Miller won't shoot. Last night's game was an example of the Minnesota version of Mike Miller at his very worst. He passed up open jumpers. He drove and made complicated crosscourt passes that caught his teammates off guard. He passed up a wide open layup at one point to give Nick Young -- a guy who isn't exactly the type that needs someone else to feed him shots -- a contested three-pointer from the corner. For the second straight year, Miller has himself caught in a hopeless losing situation. Once again, Miller is responding by doing nothing. Stop it, Mike. Take charge.
Bottom line: when a team does everything they can to prevent Andray Blatche from getting touches, we have no answer except to force it into Blatche anyway. It's a problem that'll only manifest itself this year, but it will manifest itself again when we play a good defense.
Four Factors (Bold=very good | Italics=very bad)
Snap Reaction: That turnover rate is abysmal. The only time we did worse all season was in a November loss in Miami.