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By the numbers: Wizards play normal defense against Heat

NBA: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat
Washington Wizards center Robin Lopez dunks against the Miami Heat.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s win over the Miami Heat was among their better defensive performances, and it was also surprisingly normal. So far this season, the Wizards have the league’s best defensive shot profile — fewest attempts from the analytically preferred areas (at-rim and threes), and the most attempts from less efficient spots (two-point jumpers).

Against the Heat, the Wizards protected the rim, contested 24 of Miami’s 35 three-point attempts, and forced lots of midrange jumpers. They fouled less than their norm without sacrificing defensive activities like contesting shots — NBA tracking credits Washington with contesting 58.9 shots per game (fifth most in the league). They contested 60 against the Heat.

Here’s how normal things were for the Wizards: the Heat shot 6-13 on wide-open threes and 6-15 on all wide-open shots. That’s an effective field goal percentage of .600, which slightly lowered Washington’s league worst wide-open defense. To be clear, teams have some control of how many wide-open shots they allow, but not of opponent shooting in those situations. The Wizards are 13th in wide-open shots allowed so far this season — slightly better than league average.

Bradley Beal led the team in overall production (see table below) with 32 points (on 23 field goal attempts) and 9 rebounds.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on Twitter about Robin Lopez. One tweeter called him a “trashcan.” Others demanded his immediate release. And yet, he was pretty good once again — 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks in 18 minutes.

Free agent pickup Alex Len was a bit better — 10 points (on 4 FGA), 8 rebounds and 3 assists in 27 minutes.

Garrison Mathews produced 8 points on 6 shots in just 14 minutes.

Deni Avdija’s stat line looks decent — 13 points and 4 rebounds with 3-5 shooting from three. But, it also came with 3 turnovers, and he was on the court for approximately 66 possessions.

With Russell Westbrook taking the night off, and Raul Neto sidelined with a groin injury, Troy Brown Jr. made a rare appearance as the team’s backup point guard. It wasn’t a great performance, but he hit a couple threes, collected 7 rebounds and defended reasonably well. He probably returns to the deep bench until the next back-to-back.

Ish Smith, last night’s starting PG, was awful, missing all 8 of his shots. He did produce 5 rebounds and 6 assists.

Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans had rough games. Together, they were 6-19 from the floor with 7 turnovers.

The Wizards cause was given considerable help by the Heat’s Goran Dragic (4-11 shooting and 6 turnovers), Kelly Olynyk (2-9 shooting and some highly questionable shot selection), and Andre Iguodala (very little production in 21 minutes).

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 at Heat

EFG 0.506 0.506
OREB 9 14
TOV 13 17
FTM 16 18
PACE 96 96
ORTG 104 108

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 and role. 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 38 164 -4
Alex Len 27 183 7
Robin Lopez 18 168 -1
Garrison Mathews 14 156 0
Deni Avdija 33 64 -9
Troy Brown Jr. 21 89 2
Davis Bertans 26 66 14
Rui Hachimura 35 20 5
Ish Smith 27 -100 1

Heat PPA

Jimmy Butler 37 243 -1
Bam Adebayo 35 126 2
Tyler Herro 34 106 -3
Precious Achiuwa 13 153 -5
Avery Bradley 13 161 1
Duncan Robinson 28 59 3
Kelly Olynyk 27 47 8
Andre Iguodala 21 49 -11
Max Strus 3 -181 1
Goran Dragic 28 -76 -10