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Wizards walloped by Cavaliers, and now the schedule gets tougher

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Wizards
Wizards backup guard Raul Neto.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ugh.

Don’t get sucked in by the garbage time rally that cut the final margin to 15 points. The Wizards got smoked by the Cleveland Cavaliers. En route to the 116-101 loss, Washington trailed by as much as 36 points as Cleveland rolled.

Bradley Beal was terrible, again. He scored 14 points on 17 shots, missed all three of his three-point attempts, and had just three rebounds and one assist.

Spencer Dinwiddie was terrible, again. He scored 5 points and tallied 4 assists, and worse — had just field goal attempts. His usage rate was an anemic 14.0% reflecting yet another passive performance. He also had zero success trying to contain Darius Garland, who torched the Wizards for 29 points and 10 assists.

The centers, Daniel Gafford and Montrezl Harrell had bad nights as they got pummeled inside by Jarrett Allen — 28 points on 13-17 shooting, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks.

The team’s backup guards, Raul Neto and Aaron Holiday posted good numbers, though much of their production came after the game was decided. The same was true of Deni Avdija, who notched most of his production when the team had fallen behind by 30+ points.

The NBA season is long, and it may seem like hyperbole to say the Wizards are entering worrisome territory. It’s not, though. They should be in a full-on panic at this point, and it should motivate them to dig in and work through the problems they’re consistently having.

Chief among these:

  • Dinwiddie’s disappearing act — He was the team’s best player early in the season, but has not been the dynamic driver and playmaker they anticipated.
  • Beal has been mediocre and worse. In my last PPA update, he rated barely above average, and his performance has been worse in the games since.
  • They’re 27th in three-point field goal percentage.
  • After an excellent start, their defense has steadily slipped. They ranked 14th entering last night’s game, and let the Cavaliers — with the league’s 21st ranked offense at 107.0 points per 100 possessions — put a 121 ortg on them. This was Cleveland’s third-best offensive game of the season.

Each of these four areas are major issues for the team, and they need to figure out how to fix them fast because the December schedule is brutal — 10 of their next 12 games are on the road. If they can’t solve what’s going wrong, they could well lose 9 or 10 of them.

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: Cavaliers 116 at Wizards 101

FOUR FACTORS CAVALIERS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS CAVALIERS WIZARDS
EFG 0.545 0.524
OREB 15 3
TOV 14 8
FTM 19 15
PACE 96
ORTG 121 106

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

WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Raul Neto 22 43 13 151 21.1% 282 28.1 3
Aaron Holiday 21 42 11 167 17.2% 226 22.0 11
Deni Avdija 23 45 16 146 19.7% 208 22.0 13
Kyle Kuzma 23 46 12 106 24.8% 110 11.8 -32
Daniel Gafford 23 45 4 97 8.8% 37 3.9 -13
Davis Bertans 21 41 8 101 17.0% 38 3.7 1
Corey Kispert 7 14 5 121 28.6% 101 3.3 6
Montrezl Harrell 22 44 7 95 18.6% 31 3.2 8
Anthony Gill 5 10 2 218 9.6% 123 3.0 3
Spencer Dinwiddie 26 53 5 90 14.0% -10 0.0 -18
Bradley Beal 27 54 14 72 33.7% -50 0.0 -26
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 20 40 4 53 21.3% -71 0.0 -31

Key Stats: Cavaliers

CAVALIERS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
CAVALIERS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Darius Garland 34 68 32 138 33.1% 304 37.2 29
Jarrett Allen 37 73 28 140 23.6% 222 29.2 19
Kevin Love 18 35 13 154 26.1% 288 18.1 2
Lauri Markkanen 36 72 15 122 14.8% 125 16.1 10
Isaac Okoro 29 58 8 132 11.7% 64 6.6 12
Dylan Windler 2 4 3 321 15.9% 578 4.4 -5
Ricky Rubio 29 57 7 93 16.1% 21 2.2 -4
Kevin Pangos 2 4 0 259 5.4% 198 1.5 -5
Evan Mobley 36 72 6 79 14.9% 6 0.7 21
Ed Davis 2 4 0 0.0% -77 0.0 -5
Lamar Stevens 13 26 4 92 19.8% -64 0.0 6
Denzel Valentine 2 4 0 0 37.4% -716 0.0 -5