The Washington Wizards and Mystics are currently playing in their Florida bubbles. The Wizards are at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando while the Mystics are at IMG Academy in Bradenton.
Both teams have gone winless in the entire month of August, going a combined 0-11. It has soured many people’s moods, including mine. So, let’s go.
The Wizards remain winless in bubble play even as other undermanned teams exceed expectations
The Wizards are 0-6 in the month of August, not including their July 31 loss to the Phoenix Suns. They have played without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, their two leading scorers from the regular season before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Without them, it was hard to see the Wizards seriously contend for a play-in round for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
So far, Thomas Bryant (17.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg), Troy Brown Jr. (15 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.7 apg) and Jerome Robinson (15-4 ppg) have been among the team’s best contributors in seeding games. However, other players like Moritz Wagner (4.9 ppg) have taken a significant step back.
As far as outcomes go, the Wizards have lost all but two games by double digits. That may seem understandable on the surface, but the Brooklyn Nets are 5-2 in bubble play despite playing without Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Tommy needs to make Brooks explain how he can't get a win but the Nets are basically 500 in the bubble https://t.co/rl4Y3DqjHp— Domo (@Domo_LXXXVI) August 11, 2020
Well, I think there’s a team that would say “Hold my beer” to the Nets: The Phoenix Suns.
Currently, the Suns are 7-0 in bubble play despite not playing with Wizards alum Kelly Oubre Jr. They could go undefeated in bubble play and STILL miss the NBA playoffs, but they have at least shown their fans some optimism. The Wizards? Not so much.
Finally, when we’re staring at the possibility of the Wizards going winless in the bubble, it’s a legitimate question to ask whether Scott Brooks should be terminated after the season.
Though Brooks has been safe for each of the last four seasons, he also enters the last year of his five-year contract next season. It will be interesting to see whether he is renewed for one more season given the crazy circumstances of this season, or if the 2020-21 Wizards season is not unlike their 2015-16 one when then-head coach Randy Wittman was a dead man walking from start to finish.
The Mystics are deteriorating too, with slumping starters and an alarmingly inefficient bench
I had a busy last week and couldn’t write any extended opinion on the Mystics. While I never expected the Mystics to be first or second place in the WNBA standings due to Elena Delle Donne’s, Tina Charles’, Natasha Cloud’s and LaToya Sanders’ collective absences, I still expected them to be within the playoff pack. Washington had a nice 3-0 start, but they lost five straight since then and looked worse with each successive loss.
Losing Aerial Powers due to a hamstring injury certainly hurts. And even though Myisha Hines-Allen is paying homage to the late Wes Unseld with a career-high 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game this season, their other key starters from last year’s team are failing to answer the bell,.
Emma Meesseman has scored over 20 points only once this season and is shooting just 46.7 percent from the field. Ariel Atkins failed to score in double figures in each of her last four games, shooting under 40 percent from the field in each of those games.
The reserves on this year’s team are all shooting very poorly. Kiara Leslie and Essence Carson, are shooting under 30 percent each from the field. That’s not a formula for success. Tianna Hawkins is also shooting just 34 percent from the field.
New addition Alaina Coates, who played all eight games this season to date, is shooting just 14.3 percent from the field. Granted, she has a very small sample size of just one field goal out of seven attempts, but still.
When will this August losing end?
To be honest, I’m not so sure.
The Wizards play the Boston Celtics tomorrow at 12 p.m. ET. Neither team has much to play for so it could be a chance for Washington to win on the surface. But the Bucks still blew them out yesterday, largely without Giannis Antetokounmpo. We’ll see.
The Mystics will play the Los Angeles Sparks tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET in another ESPN game. Barring Meesseman stepping up to play the way we expect her to, a refreshed Candace Parker and Co. should have no problem running the defending champions out of the gym, especially when the reserves are out on the court.