Wizards vs. Celtics final score: Washington falls just short, 89-86, in home opener

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

The Washington Wizards nearly rallied from a double-digit deficit, but couldn't quite finish the job against the Boston Celtics.

Well, that turned out to be a lot more interesting than anyone thought. The Washington Wizards' second unit nearly made up for their first unit's ineptitude, but in the end, they fell just short at the end, losing, 89-86. More to come soon, but here are some chronological-ordered notes on the game.

  • The first three possessions of the game could not have gone worse. On the first one, Trevor Ariza got caught up on a weakside screen, and Paul Pierce got a wide-open three. On the next one, four Wizards stood on the right side of the court and A.J. Price took an awkward fadeaway. Finally, Bradley Beal got beat on a backdoor cut by Courtney Lee for an easy layup.
  • The Wizards tried to get the ball inside to Emeka Okafor a lot early, but it's not the same as getting the ball inside to Nene. The Wizards only got points one time out of four. Okafor just isn't that strong of a post player.
  • Courtney Lee was really in Beal's grill early. That's the thing about Lee. He's just tough.
  • The offensive spacing was just abysmal early. On one possession, Okafor held the ball in the high post area, and A.J. Price stood between Okafor and Beal in the strongside corner. Three people, all in the same space on the left wing. The Wizards have trouble manipulating spacing as is with their lack of perimeter shooting, and this only exacerbates the problem.
  • The Wizards kept getting hung up on pretty basic Celtics screens, both on and off the ball. No defensive scheme can work if the primary defenders are that slow fighting through picks.
  • It is pretty striking how much more Webster tries to deny his man position than Ariza does. Sure, Webster is playing against lesser guys, but why isn't Ariza doing that given his length?
  • The Wizards don't have great offensive players, but it's striking to see just how much more difficult they make it on each other with their spacing. The timing of plays are off, and as a result, there's always someone that decides to break off the play to create something. A team with poor perimeter shooting has to be pristine in their execution to use whatever inch of spacing they get. The Wizards do the opposite of this.
  • The second unit seemed to get a bit more going, though it's worth noting that it came against the Celtics' second unit. I thought Jan Vesely was helpful moving into open space, and it did seem like Jannero Pargo did a better job of making easy plays than A.J. Price.
  • The Wizards seemed powerless against the Celtics' maze of screens. Webster, bless his soul, tries his damndest, but he got caught so many times trying to guard Jeff Green.
  • I love Kevin Seraphin. He should start and the Wizards should feature him more, especially in the short term. Right now, he's the only guy that can score against contested defenders, and he's the only guy that merits a double team. Okafor can't say that.
  • An underrated key to the Wizards' second quarter: the work Jannero Pargo did helping off his man and disrupting the Celtics' ball rotation. I think Pargo's defense is what enables him to keep getting NBA gigs.
  • His offense, though...
  • Trevor Booker looked much better in his second stint that his first. When he times his moves right, he can be a vicious screener.
  • I generally liked Jordan Crawford's second quarter. He obviously had a couple poor decisions with shot selection, but for the most part, he did a better job than usual trying to get closer to the basket. He gets into trouble when he dances around the perimeter. At least his moves were going towards the basket in straight lines.
  • I still can't believe A.J. Price turned down that 3 on 2 break.
  • Ariza has such poor balance for a guy known as an elite defender. Pierce gave him a simple fake spin and it led to a layup. Would it kill him to bend his knees?
  • The Wizards seemed to play better in the second quarter once they stopped force-feeding Emeka Okafor in the post. It also helped that they played better defensively, which led to more early offense and some open space on the court. I understand the need to get the ball inside, but Okafor just isn't enough of a threat to justify it. The Celtics single-covered him the whole time and he couldn't score. The strategy will make more sense once Nene gets healthy again.
  • The three best players in the first half: Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker. The three worst players: Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor and A.J. Price. Beal didn't look very good either.
  • Very surprised to see Earl Barron get zero first-half minutes. Then again, Seraphin was playing well, so there weren't a ton of minutes for him to secure.
  • Ariza did a much better job of fighting through screens early on in the third quarter. I'm still not sure why he doesn't do it more often.
  • And then he stopped doing a good job fighting through screens. Randy Wittman yelled at him, as he should have.
  • This is where one gets frustrated with Beal sometimes. He got the ball with 10 seconds on the shot clock and had a chance to turn the corner on a pick and roll. At the very least, he had an open perimeter shot. Instead, he turned down any chance to score, giving it back to Price with five seconds on the clock and no chance to make a play. Beal simply has to take that shot.
  • Wittman and Ariza do not seem to be seeing eye to eye, that's for sure.
  • Okafor has very little touch around the basket, and he got flattened by screens that got Garnett open perimeter looks. It's almost as if he's just stuck in the wrong era. In today's era, he has neither the foot speed or the touch to function when bigs play so much out on the perimeter.
  • That was nifty the way Crawford timed his cut so that it was when the basket area was left open. He really has had a strong game. It's nice to see him get more offense by moving without the ball rather than trying to make a complicated dribble move every time he has the ball. He's not clever enough to do that, and the sooner he realizes he can get points in other ways, the better he will play.
  • Vesely played very well in the third quarter. Nice defense, solid rotations and he got into open space well on the offensive end.
  • There were a few too many open Jason Terry jumpers early in that fourth quarter for my liking. He missed them, but that's dangerous.
  • Here's hoping Crawford is OK.
  • Bit of a surprising decision to put Cartier Martin in cold midway through the fourth quarter. Wittman must be really upset at Ariza. If so, it's definitely a strong statement that I think needed to be made.
  • Really nice to see Martin validate Wittman's move with two big plays.
  • The Wizards got away with one in the possession after Boston's timeout. Crawford lost Courtney Lee on a down screen.
  • It's such a shame that Rondo hit that shot, because those defensive rotations were simply fantastic. Martin lost Pierce, but the rest of his team picked him up.
  • Pargo has massive onions.
  • Even as the Wizards were rallying, Martin was struggling to stay with Pierce. He lost him one too many times, and Pierce made him pay with that three.
  • Wittman designed a very good out of bounds play coming out a timeout with 1:35 left, but Pargo messed it up. Pargo was supposed to come off a screen and hit Seraphin, coming off a crosscreen, in the post. But he lost handle of the ball momentarily, messing up the timing of the play. By the time he recovered it, Seraphin was denied his position.
  • Boy, that was an awful pass by Martin.
  • There is exactly one player in the entire league that can get away with guarding Seraphin the way Garnett did on that possession. I will say that it is unfortunate that Wittman couldn't design a better play than that, but Seraphin should have been at the free-throw line.
  • The Celtics held on to the Wizards a bit in cutting off their top options on that last-second play, but I hate any design that includes a player running to the corner. Once he catches the ball there, there's nothing he can do but shoot it. Webster took an awful shot, but what else is he supposed to do when he catches the ball that far in the corner?
GOOD: Jordan Crawford, Kevin Seraphin, Jannero Pargo.
BAD: Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Bradley Beal.
SO-SO: Martell Webster, Jan Vesely.


Final - 11.3.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Boston Celtics 26 23 22 18 89
Washington Wizards 12 30 25 19 86

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