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Wizards forced to experiment in loss to Heat

Miami Heat v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards rookie Deni Avdija had his best game in the team’s loss to the Miami Heat.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

With Bradley Beal out due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, Russell Westbrook sidelined with a sore quad, and Thomas Bryant injured in the game’s opening minutes, opportunities abounded for the team’s young players and deep bench.

The much clamored-for Garrison Mathews emerged from seclusion to pour in 22 points in 23 minutes. He shot 6-12 from the floor and 4-7 from three. He also got fouled — again — attempting a three. For a guy on a two-way contract who couldn’t crack the rotation, he draws a lot of defensive attention.

With 53 field goal attempts and 10 turnovers per game out of action, Deni Avdija posted career highs in field goal attempts, threes, assists and scoring. It was an excellent and composed performance from the rookie, who had 20 points (with 5-9 shooting from three-point range) and 5 assists to zero turnovers.

Jerome Robinson started in place of Beal and had a solid game — 12 points on 8 shots in 24 minutes. His defense was a mixed bag. He fought hard to get through screens (a relatively rare activity for a Wizards perimeter defender) and did a decent job denying shots, but the Heat shot 3-5 with a three when he was defending — an effective field goal percentage of .700.

With few other choices, Scott Brooks gave minutes to Troy Brown Jr., who had an all-around productive game — 7 points, 6 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block with no turnovers in 23 minutes. He missed a couple open threes and his defense wasn’t effective — the Heat shot 8-14 (plus a couple threes), an efg of .642. Ouch.

Moritz Wagner had another one of his nervensäge games. The good: 13 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes and he shot 2-5 from three-point range. And he was active defensively — 4-10 defensive field goal percentage. The bad: he fouled out. All 6 were good calls by the refs. Two of the fouls were classic examples of Wagner’s pointless over-aggression. The sixth foul was an example of his fetish for attempting to draw charges.

Missing Westbrook and Bryant, the Wizards got crushed on the boards 61-39. Robin Lopez managed just one rebound in 21 minutes.

Miami’s Goran Dragic lit up Washington with 21 points in 20 minutes of playing time. Tracking data assigned responsibility to five different Wizards defenders. Ish Smith was the most frequent victim — he received responsibility for three of Dragic’s 7 threes.

Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide who wins and loses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounding percentage), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made divided by field goal attempts).

Four Factors: Heat at Wizards

EFG 0.581 0.520
OREB% 0.238 0.121
TOV% 0.147 0.055
FTM/FGA 0.215 0.212
PACE 109 109
ORTG 118 114

Player Production Average

Below are Player Production Average (PPA) results from last night’s game. PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). PPA is a per possession stat that includes accounting for defense. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.

PPA is a per possession stat. The table below is sorted by each player’s total contributions for the game.

Wizards PPA

Deni Avdija 32 201 -4
Garrison Matthews 23 197 11
Jerome Robinson 24 129 -17
Troy Brown Jr. 22 133 11
Moritz Wagner 20 139 -2
Robin Lopez 21 126 -7
Ish Smith 28 35 5
Rui Hachimura 26 29 4
Thomas Bryant 2 0 -4
Isaac Bonga 0 0 0
Raul Neto 20 -8 -9
Davis Bertans 22 -27 -8

Heat PPA

Jimmy Butler 36 288 11
Goran Dragic 20 333 4
Kelly Olynyk 32 146 3
Tyler Herro 37 117 -2
Bam Adebayo 21 55 4
Andre Iguodala 14 82 -12
Duncan Robinson 35 24 10
KZ Okpala 7 0 2
Meyers Leonard 8 -35 5
Precious Achiuwa 13 -41 5
Avery Bradley 19 -65 -10