Wizards vs. Grizzlies: Randy Wittman's odd postgame critique

USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman said the Wizards didn't get the ball inside enough against the Grizzlies. Is this critique valid?

The Washington Wizards scored just 76 points in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. That's bad offense, even against a defense as stifling as Memphis. When asked to explain what happened, Wizards coach Randy Wittman offered up what I think was an odd critique.

Via Michael Lee:

"We stopped throwing the ball inside and you've got to know that feel of the game," Coach Randy Wittman said. "Things aren't going a certain way, you've got to combat that. We went away from playing inside-out and just took perimeter shots. That hurt us."

I found that strange because this is what I said in my recap last night:

The Wizards still kept pounding away without enough weakside movement. Nene and [Emeka] Okafor are not going to score consistently against this Grizzlies frontcourt. Something else was definitely needed, because the more the Wizards went into the post, the more confused their other five players were and the worse their passes ended up being.

What can we make of these discrepancies? I ended up going back and watching every single second-half possession on MySynergySports.com. According to my count, the Wizards had 38 half-court possessions last night (i.e. taking out offensive rebounds and transition plays). The ball went into the post on 22 of those 38 possessions, and the Wizards ultimately scored on nine of those 22 plays.*

Now, I don't know how often Wittman expects to get the ball inside, but 22 out of 38 plays seems like a pretty high number to me. Moreover, while it's true that nothing really worked in that second half, scoring on nine of those 22 plays doesn't seem like an especially high success rate. At the very least, the Wizards weren't significantly more efficient on second-half plays where the ball went into the post than they were on second-half plays where it didn't.

Also, it wasn't like there were fewer post plays late in the game. Twelve of those 22 "post" possessions were in the third quarter; 11 were in the fourth quarter. The Wizards' gameplan, at least by this measure, was pretty consistent.

To be fair to Wittman, he didn't have the benefit of watching all 38 of those plays on tape before talking to the media. Also, he could have just been throwing out a soundbyte that made sense in theory without revealing anything too specific about his team's gameplan.

But if Wittman still thinks that the problem with the Wizards' offense on Friday was that they didn't pound the post enough, then I'm just going to have to disagree with him.

*: Note that a couple of these possessions were ones where the ball went inside, the play broke down and the actual ending of the set was a pick and roll. That happened twice; the Wizards scored on one of those two sets.

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