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Thoughts and observations from the Wizards’ season opening loss in Atlanta

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The thing that stuck out the most to me during the Wizards’ 114-99 loss to the Hawks on Thursday was how much it felt like most Wizards-Hawks games over the past few years. Even though both teams made sweeping roster changes over the summer, the Hawks beat the Wiz the same way they have over the past few years.

Atlanta dominated the glass in the early going, which allowed them to stay in the game even as their offense struggled. When Washington finally made the proper adjustments to hunker down and keep Dwight Howard from getting second chances, it opened up scoring opportunities for Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr., especially from deep, which allowed the Hawks to pull away late. So for me, the biggest thing that stuck out wasn’t anything that the Wizards did, but how the Hawks are still the Hawks, which means the path to the playoffs won’t be getting any easier this season.

But enough about those pesky Hawks. Here are a few things that stuck out about the Wizards in the opening game:

  • The John Wall/Marcin Gortat pick and roll still needs to be a staple of the Wizards’ offense if they want to be effective this season. It was not good in the opener. They combined to shoot 5-21 from the field, and Wall only assisted on one Gortat basket the entire game. Atlanta has a stout defense, but the Wizards have to do better than that with one of their bread and butter plays if they have any shot at being competitive this season.
  • Speaking of things that need to be staples in the Wizards’ offense: Bradley Beal only attempted two three-pointers in 24 minutes and missed both of them. Sure, his three point attempts per game will probably go down this season because he’s going to handle the ball more, but he needs to be more of a threat than that to keep teams from packing the paint. Otherwise, you’re wasting half of his offensive game.
  • Three point shooting on the whole was really quiet. The team was 6-20 from deep and Markieff Morris was the only player who made more than one.
  • On the bright side: The Wizards scored 99 points in a game where they only got 2 points combined off Wall/Gortat pick and rolls and Bradley Beal three pointers. That’s good...I think.
  • Marcus Thornton and Jason Smith
  • Otto Porter did some amazing work in transition and off of smart, intuitive cuts in halfcourt sets. Still, it was surprising to see he only got 30 touches in 25 minutes of action, according to NBA.com’s Player Tracking stats. By comparison, Marcin Gortat had 60 in just over 32 minutes of action. I understand that Porter’s probably better suited working off the ball, but that balance doesn’t feel right to me.
  • In other player tracking stats news, Wall was 1-10 on uncontested shots last night. Wall is no Ray Allen, but he usually does better than that on uncontested shots. That should improve as he gets his legs back under him a bit more, but it might take a little time.
  • This was a game where the Wizards really could have used Ian Mahinmi.
  • If you’re looking for more ramblings, I was on the ZardCast podcast after the game, and also shared some thoughts on everyone’s performance on Facebook Live.

Discussing last night's loss and taking your questions on what's next.

Posted by Bullets Forever on Friday, October 28, 2016