Do you remember that moment, and hopefully you don't, when you were in elementary school at recess and there was always that one kid who picked on you?
Then there was that one day you actually decided to fight back against the kid and things started off well. You gave him your little "I know you are, but what am I" bit and everyone at recess laughed a little bit. For a moment, you felt like you were on top of the world. The entire playground was in silence because you started off so well and it looked like you actually had a fighting chance.
But then the kid pushed you down in the sand and your pants fell down because you forgot to button them back up after your last bathroom break. Then, the entire playground just starts laughing at you. And you get up and finally button your pants back up. You haven't shed a tear yet, but wait! You just realized you just picked up a bunch of sand and now it's stuck in your butt. And then you burst out in tears and go back into the classroom an embarrassed loser.
That's what happened to the Wizards in their blowout 114-87 loss in Dallas. They started off strong against the Mavericks and took a five point lead early on in the first quarter. But from then on, it was all Mavericks all the time. They swept the Wizards for the second consecutive year and send the Wizards into the new year with a loss. For you D.C. natives who already hate the city of Dallas, just act like this night never existed.
Here are the three things we've learned from tonight's game.
Randy Wittman's rotations are still absolute garbage
The bench mob that has been so effective for the Wizards this season was just so inept in tonight's contest. The bench largely plays in the latter half of the first quarter, a bulk of the second quarter and about the last three minutes of the third quarter. They play in the fourth as well, but that leash is normally pulled quickly if things go bad.
Tonight, with the Mavericks' lead at three going into the second quarter, it ballooned to an 11 point lead until Wittman called a timeout just after the seven minute mark. Greg Smith, Richard Jefferson, J.J. Barea and Charlie Villanueva were able to get things going in the quarter. That was even before Monta Ellis came in and destroyed the Wizards in the transition game.
The Wizards' bench is good, but it lacks a stabilizing force when things go wrong. This is why coaches commonly stagger starter minutes in with bench units. Rarely are teams good enough to have five man bench units on the floor for lengthy periods of time and the Wizards are no exception.
The Wizards offense still needs to be remodeled
Once the Wizards dug a hole too deep to get out of they had no chance of coming back because of how their offense works. It's well documented by now that they hunt for some of the worst shots in basketball. There were back-to-back possessions in the third quarter that led to Bradley Beal long twos off of a handoff with more than 10 seconds left on the clock.
When you're trying to come back, you can't take contested midrange jumpers. They aren't very efficient shots and they aren't going to bring you back into the game. I can understand not wanting to take too many threes, but when your team finishes the game with just 12 threes and you're down by double digits for most of the game, that is a problem.
Speaking of the offense....
They accumulated 23 turnovers on the game and had just 22 assists, which is about three below average. This team is normally very good at moving the ball, but the Mavericks played them physically tonight and were able to disrupt the flow of most of their plays.
They were running pick and rolls directly at Tyson Chandler and that doesn't really help very much. There were many occasions where the Mavericks perimeter players were able to swipe at the ball when the Wizards were driving into the paint. Monta Ellis went 6-8 in the first half and only one of his shots came from the outside. That's because the rest of them were surrendered in transition and semi-transition opportunities off of turnovers. They punched the Wizards in the mouths defensively and they felt it.
The Mavericks scored 33 points off of turnovers and they really paid for it. They can't surrender extra possessions to a team like this and expect to come out on top. There were too many easy buckets for the Mavericks in transition and they're a great transition team. They controlled the tempo of the game and were able to pick the Wizards apart.
The Wizards were coming off of a back-to-back after playing the Rockets last night, but that is no excuse. If this team is going to be one of the best in the NBA they've got to stay strong against teams like this.