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Inside the Numbers: The Wizards’ defense fails in loss to 76ers

Let’s break down the numbers that determined Wednesday night’s game.

Washington Wizards v Philadelphia 76ers
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal ties a franchise record by scoring 60 points against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Wizards lost to the Philadelphia 76ers for a second time in this young season despite 60 points from Bradley Beal because they do not defend on the perimeter and they don’t have an elite defensive big man who can clean up some of the mess.

The defensive game plan seemed to be to leave Thomas Bryant one-on-one against Joel Embiid so his teammates could stay home on shooters. This being the Wizards, Embiid went for 38 points and the Sixers shot 18-29 from three-point range.

Despite the gaudy scoring night from Embiid, Bryant wasn’t bad defensively. Defensive tracking had Embiid shooting 6-13 when Bryant was defending, including 2-2 from three-point range. When Bryant wasn’t involved, Embiid shot 6-8 with a three. For the game, Bryant led the team with 14 shots contested, and was second with 4 deflections behind Russell Westbrook’s 5.

For the game, Philadelphia shot 11-20 from the field (with 3-4 from three-point range) for an effective field goal percentage of .625. This is a terrible number that looks better only because the Sixers efg for the game was .728. When Bryant wasn’t involved in defending, the Sixers efg was a preposterous .762.

The bigger problem with the Wizards defense was on the perimeter. Seth Curry scored 28 points on 14 shots and hit 6-7 from three. His lone miss from long range was with Bryant defending.

Here’s how absurd Washington’s defensive performance was last night: Bryant had a crummy defensive game and was still the least bad defender they put on the floor.

The atrocious defense wasted a sensational offensive performance from Beal, who tied Gilbert Arenas for the franchise record for points in a game. The only Sixers defender who seemed to give him any kind of challenge was Matisse Thybulle, and Beal still produced 14 points on 11 possessions. The final quarter left a bit of a sour taste — Beal shot just 1-6 for three points after pouring in 57 through the first three quarters.

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: Wizards at 76ers

EFG 0.728 0.585
OREB% 0.037 0.209
TOV% 0.145 0.118
FTM/FGA 0.284 0.277
PACE 110 110
ORTG 128 123

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

Bradley Beal 38 323 -9
Russell Westbrook 39 76 -4
Ish Smith 23 119 5
Thomas Bryant 34 79 -14
Davis Bertans 33 65 1
Rui Hachimura 24 54 -13
Raul Neto 12 92 10
Robin Lopez 14 56 9
Anthony Gill 2 -64 2
Jerome Robinson 5 -107 -3
Deni Avdija 16 -63 -9

76ers PPA

Joel Embiid 37 259 14
Seth Curry 36 246 16
Danny Green 30 174 14
Ben Simmons 36 147 6
Tobias Harris 41 52 7
Shake Milton 20 104 -5
Tyrese Maxey 11 74 -9
Matisse Thybulle 18 23 -9
Terrance Ferguson 0 0 0
Dwight Howard 11 -7 -9