With the absence of Nene for a second straight preseason game, Randy Wittman was afforded the opportunity to continue his experiment with small ball lineups as we inch closer to the regular season. But unlike Tuesday night when the Wizards drained 12-three pointers on the defending champions, the Wizards could not find the bottom of the net despite getting clean looks all night long.
Bradley Beal and John Wall continued their brilliance, scoring 35 of the starters' 59 points, but there weren't many bright spots outside of their backcourt. The bench looked increasingly frustrated against New York's defense, but it was the teams' inability to properly get into their sets when Wall and Beal sat on the bench that attributed to their struggles more than anything. Eric Maynor in particular had another forgettable night, he was a non-factor along the perimeter, and on the few attempts that he was able to get in the lane, he either tossed up an inefficient floater or had to give the ball up to a player not in position to make a play.
All in all, the Wizards just weren't able to overcome their 5-31 showing from three, despite turning the ball over just 12 times, a big improvement from their previous preseason outings.
Here are my game notes in chronological order:
- Seraphin had an easy post-up opportunity on Andrea Bargnani, but tried to face-up while putting the ball on the floor. He ended up hoisting an unbalanced shot in the paint, when it could have very easily been a hook shot right at the rim.
- Now Seraphin is matched up with Bargnani on defense, while Booker is on Tyson Chandler. This is just a really unfavorable match-up for Kevin, who picks up two early fouls after getting beat off the dribble a few times.
- Wizards ran the Loop, but Prigioni denied the ball, leaving Beal to create on an isolation play. He drove in, spun, and finished in the lane. And this was all on Iman Shumpert. On Tuesday night, you may remember Beal showing off an effective behind-the-back crossover to create space.
- Carmelo on the left elbow is absolutely brutal in a one-on-one setting. He had Webster on a post up, spun, but Glen Rice Jr helped the moment Melo turned his head. His instincts are so good.
- Eric Maynor hasn't been able to shake Pablo Prigioni once since entering the game. He's committed an 8-second violation, and lost the ball as he was pressured the moment he crossed halfcourt. The drop-off since the starters left the game has been particularly concerning, considering Maynor was brought in to bring stability to the second unit.
- But aside from the poor play out of the bench, I wouldn't be too concerned over the Wizards' offensive woes in the first half. They were 1-15 from three, with more than half of them coming off wide open looks from Wall's penetration in the paint.
- Despite the shot not totally being there for John, he was really under control, and looked masterful running the offense. Have to credit him for not turning the ball over, though he almost got caught jump-passing on a cross-court heave to Beal. Luckily the ball was tipped, and the Wizards maintained possession.
- Wizards avoided the maddening third quarter slump, as John Wall led the charge. He had an And-1 early, hit a corner 3, and drew a charge in the lane. The improvements he's made on this end have been apparent; he's not getting caught ball watching, he's fighting over screens, and has really made it a point of emphasis to pressure ball handlers. It's the little things that's going to help over the long run, especially with the loss of Okafor. Getting teams deeper into the shot clock before getting into their sets will be huge for this team.
- Kevin Seraphin hasn't passed out of the paint once.
- I know I keep repeating this, but again, this has been another game where Martell wasn't able to get clean looks from three. You just can't take a top shooter from a year ago out of his element, force him to play with lower-usage players and expect him to live up to his contract.