After two days off to contemplate what led to their near collapse in Detroit, the Washington Wizards put up this: a 97-92 stinker to a depleted Chicago Bulls team. Forget how they almost came back toward the end, or that Nene was mired in foul trouble, or that Bradley Beal was still getting his legs under him. This team doesn't deserve excuses for what was yet another dreadful offensive performance.
Remember what it was like leading up to the Pistons game a few days ago? Losers of 6 straight, an owner complaining about the lack of three-point attempts on his blog, and multiple other outlets chiding Wittman's offensive philosophy?
And remember what followed? The Wizards attempted 13 threes in the first half alone! It looked like an actual modernized offense that was following a set of instructions. They'd run the same pick and rolls/pops with the same players, but instead of taking the first open midrange look, they'd swing it, run another pick and roll until they got the defense scrambling, which netted open threes.
Yeah, you can forget about all that. If you were like me (I'm probably the only one) and chalked up their second half to working out some kinks, you were mistaken. Tonight was more of the same. They took 22 threes, but the majority of them came with Wall running off misses and finding shooters in the open court. The half court offense was more of the same. They ran shooters off curls, only for them to veer below the three point and hoist up another long-two. They'd run pick and rolls, only to fire away at the first sight of an opposing big man sagging into the lane.
It's an offense without any structure. Sure, this was a winnable game, and save for a few calls going their way in the final minutes, we'd all be riding high off a two-game win streak and winning the season series against the Bulls. But that would miss the bigger point. The Wizards are an abysmal offensive unit right now without much hope.
Here's three things we learned:
A lot went wrong in the final defensive stand
After Otto's free throw cut the lead to three, the Wizards wisely chose not to foul with 29 seconds left. All they had to do was get one stop against a sputtering Bulls offense, but prior to the free throw, Randy Wittman would sub in Garrett Temple for Paul Pierce. They're already small, which helped get them back in it in the first place, but for the life of me I cannot understand going small when all you need is one last stop.
So what happened?
First, you cannot be that inattentive off the ball like Porter is there. But more importantly, look at all the mismatches around the floor. Beal defends Noah throughout the possession and Temple finds himself on Gasol. You're making it entirely too easy on the Bulls in that scenario.
The defense struggles against another back-up Bulls guard
It wouldn't be a disappointing loss without a substandard point guard going off on the Wizards defense. Tonight it was Aaron Brooks, who, in his last 5 games, has shot 16-60 from the field. In the playoffs, the Wiz could take solace in the fact that Trevor Ariza was at their disposal and that D.J. Augustin was simply burning Wall for going under screens or improperly positioning himself against a pick and roll.
Things are different now. They've replaced the plodding Carlos Boozer with Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol, which has significantly diversified their attack and forced Nene to defend along the perimeter. But they do some subtle things with Joakim Noah too which throws them off balance. They'll have him handle the ball around the high post, looking to run dribble hand-offs, but when his first option is shut off, he'll U-turn, and find another teammate to run it with.
You saw that take a toll on the defense tonight. Nene and Gortat could not keep up with all of that movement, which yielded plenty of easy driving lanes for Chicago.
Seraphin's role is changing
Not only was Seraphin their go-to player on the second unit, he was their only player worth giving a damn about offensively. The second unit as a whole consisted of exactly two high-usage players, one of whom -- Andre Miller -- could hardly get the team into sets, much less create his own shot.
If tonight was any indication, that's going to change in a big way. Seraphin isn't going to operate as the hub of the offense anymore, which means he'll have to find new avenues to stay productive -- an issue he's struggled with mightily throughout his career. Obviously these rotations aren't set in stone, and once Humphries comes back, Wittman will have to toggle with them again, but it's safe to assume we'll be seeing Beal starting off the second quarters from here on out.