Last week, I wrote about how in order to make the playoffs, the Wizards need two things to happen: They need to play very well, and they need the two teams above them, Detroit and Chicago, to play very badly.
Make no mistake, the Wizards playoff odds are still not great. But tonight we got a glimpse of what could be, as the Wizards blew out the Pistons 124-81. They rushed out to a 30-7 (!!) lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The defense was on point, stifling the Reggie Jackson-Andre Drummond pick and roll. They also got into the passing lanes, forcing 20 turnovers (and committing just 10).
The Wizards also had one of their best offensive games of the season, shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three. Every starter, plus Nene and Ramon Sessions, hit double figures.
The only downside to the night was that Alan Anderson headed to the locker room in the middle of the game and did not return. Anderson has provided toughness and shooting off the bench in his few games as a Wizards. No updates on Anderson are available at this time.
When you win by 40+, there is a lot of praise to go around. Here are some of the things that went really well for the Wizards tonight.
The John Wall-Marcin Gortat chemistry was at it’s best
The Wizards went to Gortat early and often, and Gortat was more than willing to take it right at Drummond. The Polish Machine finished the game with 16 points and 8 rebounds in less than 25 minutes. His two-man game with Wall was particularly strong, with moments like this:
…and the John Wall-Markieff Morris chemistry is developing nicely
Since being traded to the Wizards at the deadline, Morris has understandably struggled a bit. His whole year has been down, and add a totally new team (only his second team as a pro) to the mix and there will be some challenges.
Tonight, we got a taste of what the Morris-Wall two man game will look like for years to come.
Morris ended the night with 15 points, going 6-11 overall and hitting 2-5 of his threes.
Tonight was one of those nights for Nene. He ran circles around Aron Baynes, driving, dunking, and dishing with ease. He finished the night with 20 points and 3 assists in 15:25 of play.
Bradley Beal’s return was huge
Beal did a little bit of everything tonight, with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in under 25 minutes of play. But his value to the Wizards goes beyond that: just his presence on the floor created space for the Wall-Gortat pick and roll, and his ability to handle the ball gave Wall some well deserved breaks.
Bonus John Wall Highlight