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Wizards ride hot shooting night to win over Dallas Mavericks

Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks
Wizards center Daniel Gafford dominated inside in the team’s win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

In a game where head coaches Wes Unseld Jr. and Jason Kidd made a series of questionable decisions, the Washington Wizards had their second-best shooting night of the season en route to a 120-114 win at the Dallas Mavericks.

Last night was probably Bradley Beal’s best game of the season. He scored 26 points on 10-14 shooting from the floor, and 7 assists to 3 turnovers. He was helped by a tremendous performance from Daniel Gafford (14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks on just 7 field goal attempts), and Raul Neto off the bench (13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists).

Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell were solid.

For the first time this season, I had serious questions about some of the decisions made by Unseld. Specifically, I questioned why they switched ball screens for Mavericks’ superstar Luka Doncic. It left the team with strange mismatches that Doncic exploited at will until he turned his ankle.

In the second half, the Wizards doubled Doncic when he crossed midcourt. While I understand the urge to get the ball out of his hands, I thought it was iffy at best because:

  • The strategy let Doncic avoid putting pressure on his gimpy ankle.
  • It put the Wizards in scramble mode early in possessions.
  • It gave the Mavericks exactly what NBA teams usually have to work to get — the “power play” advantage.

The Wizards have been good defensively this season by staying home on perimeter shooters, staying out of scrambles and being in close proximity to whoever shoots the ball. The result: Dallas’ fourth best shooting night and third best offensive rating of the season.

Luckily for the Wizards, Kidd was on the opposing bench and he kept doing things like running postups for Kristaps Porzingis (just 0.88 points per possession on postups entering the game — a number that did not improve last night), hero ball sets for Doncic in the fourth quarter, and just 11 minutes for Trey Burke — who had 14 points on 7 shots plus 4 assists in his scant playing time.

Even with the odd defensive strategies, this was a good win for the Wizards, and the best they’ve looked in a couple weeks. They’re not going to shoot like this every night, but there’s at least an outline for a successful offense in this game film.

Four Factors

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

I’ve simplified them a bit. While the factors are usually presented as percentages, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category are easier to understand.

Four Factors: Wizards 120 at Mavericks 114

EFG 0.551 0.635
OREB 9 7
TOV 7 14
FTM 16 21
ORTG 120 126

Key Stats

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls).

Game Score (GmSC) converts individual production into points on the scoreboard in this game. The scale is the same as points and reflects each player’s total contributions for the game. The lowest possible GmSC is zero.

PPA is a per possession metric designed for larger data sets. In small sample sizes, the numbers can get weird. But some readers prefer it so I’m including PPA scores as well. Reminder: in PPA, 100 is average, higher is better and replacement level is 45. For a single game, replacement level isn’t much use, and I reiterate the caution about small samples producing weird results.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

PTS = points scored

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average last season was 112.3. Points produced is not the same as points scored. It includes the value of assists and offensive rebounds, as well as sharing credit when receiving an assist.

USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.

ORTG and USG are slightly modified versions of stats created by Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver and modified slightly by me. ORTG is an efficiency measure that accounts for the value of shooting, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. USG includes shooting from the floor and free throw line, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.

Key Stats: Wizards

Bradley Beal 38 74 26 142 24.4% 230 31.0 15
Daniel Gafford 27 54 14 196 14.7% 228 22.4 14
Raul Neto 24 48 13 148 19.8% 220 19.2 -3
Kyle Kuzma 35 68 22 116 26.3% 138 17.1 9
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 31 61 16 126 19.7% 145 16.1 13
Montrezl Harrell 20 40 11 153 17.7% 126 9.2 -6
Aaron Holiday 20 39 7 110 16.9% 52 3.7 9
Corey Kispert 11 23 4 92 17.6% 30 1.2 -4
Deni Avdija 19 38 7 91 17.3% -32 0.0 -3
Davis Bertans 15 29 0 16 14.0% -157 0.0 -14

Key Stats: Mavericks

Luka Doncic 37 73 33 115 39.6% 144 22.1 -11
Dorian Finney-Smith 29 57 8 179 8.1% 163 19.5 -6
Trey Burke 11 22 14 170 37.3% 413 19.4 5
Sterling Brown 13 27 8 175 16.3% 273 15.3 13
Kristaps Porzingis 36 70 13 107 17.9% 96 14.3 -2
Maxi Kleber 30 59 13 161 13.3% 109 13.6 0
Tim Hardaway Jr. 36 71 10 90 15.2% 46 6.9 -7
Dwight Powell 10 21 4 167 12.5% 58 2.5 -12
Reggie Bullock 28 55 7 100 10.4% 2 0.3 -3
Willie Cauley-Stein 10 20 4 68 36.3% -60 0.0 -7