The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so goes the saying. This saying would apply to the Wizards, because John Wall or no John Wall, this team is absolutely atrocious away from home, and unless there's some dramatic change in personnel next season, I see no reason for things to change, nor for the playoff spot everyone seems to expect as a given to be as easy to lock up as expected.
Everyone likes to point to the team's stellar 24-20 record since John Wall returned. It has been an amazing run in which we've only lost 4 home games. Close, puzzling losses to inferior squads in the Kings, Raptors and Pistons. A gutsy effort versus the Knicks. The team has won 18 games at home since Wall's return, a sizzling 81% success rate!!! I don't have any stats handy, but I'm guessing it's among the league's best over that time period.
The 6-16 away record (7-31 overall!!!) since Wall returned is marginally better, but that .27 road percentage would still only equal about 11 wins over the course of a full season. Which means to get to the magical .500 mark, the team needs to basically play .750 ball at home next year.
Can someone look into the statistical splits between home and away games and try to explain to me why this Wizards squad is so freakin' awful away from VC?
I really don't comprehend it. It's not like Verizon Center is some scary environment for opposing teams. Hell, on most nights at least 25% of the crowd there is cheering against the Wizards and another 25% are more interested in checking in on FourSquare, unless of course you're giving out t shirts, burritos, or the always entertaining Chik-Fil-A sandwich after missed free throws. Cause everyone gets excited for free stuff. Then the game resumes an it's like a Tuesday afternoon at the MLK Library.
I just don't get it, and I don't think that whole "it's just the next step in a young team's progression" thing explains it. This team's core, Wall and Beal aside, is made up of seasoned vets like Okafor, Ariza, Webster, and Nene. Nor is this all about missing the comfort of home. Only the freakin Bobcats (who beat use twice at home) are worse on the road (by 1 game) and no team has such a stark disparity between home and road records. We're losing in all kinds of ways to all kinds of teams. Young teams. Old teams. Bad teams. Good teams. Healthy teams. Decimated teams. Mike could probably just change a couple of city/team names and use the exact same postgame recap for every game. Rinse and repeat. It's still ultimately a loss and it defies all logic.
Someone please explain what's up here? To the naked eye, it seems like things always fall apart in the 3rd quarter. The team scraps its way back in the fourth, only to make late mental errors and lose. I'd love to lay this one squarely at the feet of the aforementioned players. But Randy Wittman and the coaching crew seem to make such great adjustments at home that I'm wondering why he is equally incapable of doing so on the road.
For those keeping score at home, since John Wall arrived in DC, here's the Wizards road record:
2010-2011 - THREE WINS!!!!
2011-2012 - 9 Wins (in a lockout shortened season)
2012-2013 - 7 Wins so far.
That, my friends, is not incremental progress. That's a grand total of 19 road wins in 3 seasons!!!
Why even bother watching away games? Heck, why even bother playing them for that matter?
Sorry for being the resident pessimist on this issue, but I can't help but wonder what this inability to win away from VC means for our playoff hopes next year. Something about our home success seems unlikely to be sustainable, and nothing about our road woes appears to have a quick fix in sight. If we're looking at the standings this time next year and see a team with 37 wins just out of the playoff picture I'm wonder if management ignored the obvious warning signs, and went with status quo instead of shaking something (anything!) up.
And if we'll all be sitting here (as usual) talking about "wait till next season".
Thoughts? Opinions? Gripes? Lemme hear em'. What's the problem here, and (other than the usual "they'll figure it out eventually") how does it get fixed?!?