The Warriors are the best team in the league and might have the most valuable player in the entire league. The Warriors were favored in Vegas by 4.5 points in the Verizon Center. No one really expected the Wizards to win and they did not. But they did have their opportunities to beat the Warriors in this one, but just like so many other games in 2015, they came up just short.
The Wizards wasted a spectacular, 14 point third quarter effort from Paul Pierce and failed to get stops against the Warriors in the fourth quarter. They had an 81-79 lead near the end of the third, but couldn't stop the Warriors the rest of the way. Once they snatched the lead back, they held onto it for keeps.
The Wizards remained competitive throughout the game, but the way their struggles in taking care of the ball really doomed them in the end. They finished the game with 26 turnovers and compared to the Warriors' nine. The Warriors scored 23 points off of those turnovers, as any good team would, and made the Wizards pay for giving them extra possessions.
Simply put, turning the ball over is going to take you out of any game. The Wizards only managed to stay in the game because of the way they rebounded the ball. They outrebounded the Warriors 45-29 and scored 10 second chance points on nine offensive rebounds. Had they cut down on the turnovers and actually gotten shots up instead of wasting possessions, maybe we see a different result.
We have to hope the Wizards pick up the pieces and get on a run against some stout competition. It'll be tough, but they're supposed to be a good team.
Here are three things we've learned from this game.
Turnovers are killing this team
The turnovers this team is committing are killing them just as much as any lack of spacing or excessive post touches. Over the last 10 games they are averaging 16.7 turnovers per game and just over 17 percent of their possessions are resulting in turnovers. This is the fourth straight loss for them, and in the last four alone they've turned it over 18 times per game.
Their season average is just 15.2 turnovers per game. Both of those marks are way over the amount they normally commit. And when an offense is as archaic as this one, you cannot afford to waste possessions. That leads to easy buckets for the opposition and makes it tougher for a team that does not shoot threes to get back into a game.
From the start of the season to December 31st, the Wizards only averaged 14.7 turnovers per game and they only turned it over on 15.2 percent of their possessions. Those slight drops are extremely important and can make all the difference in winning and losing, as we're seeing right now.
Marcin Gortat continues to lose minutes
Gortat did not play in another fourth quarter today. Though his results have been up and down this season he played relatively well today. He had 16 points on 11 shots and had 11 rebounds to go along with that. He is the team's best rim protector and is adept at veering off drivers coming into the lane.
There was really no excuse for him not seeing any fourth quarter minutes in this game. The excuse that the Warriors were small with Draymond Green in the game is one that we should not be alright with. Green is a small player and can stretch the floor, but he's a very good and functional big man. He's able to do things that traditional big men do and is extremely physical on the block.
And besides, Gortat was extremely effective throughout the rest of the game for three quarters. Removing him from action but playing Kris Humprhies or Kevin Seraphin just doesn't make any sense. The Wizards had the rebounding advantage throughout the game largely because of Gortat and he killed the Warriors in transition. He should have finished the game.
The Wizards' wing depth is killing them
Or, rather, their lack of wing depth. Martell Webster, Garrett Temple and Rasual Butler were all options for them on the wings tonight. Temple is a good defensive player, but is not a very good shooter. Butler's shot has been off and on since the turn of the calendar into 2015, but he still is a threat to knock down a three here or there. Webster has been a net negative on both ends of the floor all season long.
Temple had himself a solid game on both ends tonight. He saw defensive stretches on Curry where he played him well, hit some threes and did some really good things defensively in transition when stopping the ball and disrupting easy break opportunities. But the bottom line is that he is not the answer here. He isn't consistent and should not be counted on to play big minutes.
It is what it is, and hindsight says they should have spent more money on the wing last summer. Waiting for Ray Allen right now is a pipe dream, but they need to find an answer there and they need to do it quickly.