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Wizards play solid defense to win sixth in a row

Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards
Wizards guard Raul Neto shoots a three.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards and Warriors game was supposed to be a matchup of Stephen Curry and Bradley Beal, the NBA’s leading scorers. Instead it was a weird brickfest in which both teams blew double-digit leads — Washington, a 19-point in advantage in the first quarter, and Golden State, an 11-point edge in the third.

The game was marred by a scary-looking injury to Wizards rookie Deni Avdija, who fell awkwardly with his foot pinned under his weight. It was easy to imagine the worst, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported relatively good news.

In honor of the team’s season-best sixth consecutive victory, here are the six Wizards most responsible for the win or some weirdness:

  1. Raul Neto — 18 points on 11 field goal attempts, as well as 4 assists and 3 steals. Outstanding game from the backup guard pressed into a starting role because of Rui Hachimura’s injury.
  2. Bradley Beal — He was just 8-21 from floor and 2-6 from three, but he hit 11-11 from the free throw line, grabbed 10 rebounds and tallied 4 assists and 2 steals.
  3. Davis Bertans — This kind of game is why the Wizards gave him the big contract. He nailed threes (4-10), competed on defense, and grabbed 6 rebounds — not great, but enough to make those threes (and the threat of threes) have value. He even got frisky and tried to throw down a contested dunk in transition. Had he been successful, it would have been his third dunk of the year.
  4. Daniel Gafford — It’s probably time to push him into the starting lineup and see what he can with extended minutes. Last night — 19 points, 10 rebounds (including 4 offensive boards) and 3 blocks in just 24 minutes. He’s producing at both ends.
  5. Isaac Bonga — He got just 10 minutes, but they were a good 10 minutes — 6 points on 3 field goal attempts to go with an assist and a steal. With Hachimura and Avdija sidelined, Bonga figures to get more minutes.
  6. Scott Brooks and the coaching staff — The Wizards had a game plan to double Curry whenever he touched the ball. That creates openings elsewhere, and puts a heavy burden on the other three defenders who have to rotate. They were excellent, especially in the first half, and forced Curry into an array of bad passes. They also harassed Curry into a lousy shooting night — 7-25 from the floor and 2-14 from three. As I’ve written and tweeted a few times now, after accounting for opposition quality, the Wizards defense has been better this season than their offense.
  7. Russell Westbrook — Bonus seventh, mainly for the weirdness. Westbrook had another triple-double — 14 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists — and his PPA was 12. Remember, in PPA, average is 100 and higher is better. His rating is so low because he shot 5-17 from the floor and committed 9 turnovers. Think about like this: with 5 made baskets, 4 free throw attempts, and 10 assists, Westbrook contributed to 17 scoring possessions. With his missed shots and turnovers, he accounted for 19 zero point possessions. Only Curry had more in this game (with 20).

By the way, my prediction spreadsheet has the Wizards favored in each of their next two games. I have them with a 59% chance of beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, and a 67% chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This streak has a realistic chance of reaching eight before matchups with the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers.

‘Nuff said.

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.

PACE is possessions per 48 minutes.

Four Factors: Warriors at Wizards

EFG 0.470 0.473
OREB 10 15
TOV 17 22
FTM 19 32
PACE 114
ORTG 100 103

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.

The table below is sorted by each player’s total contributions for the game.

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

Wizards PPA

Raul Neto 36 86 195 17
Bradley Beal 36 87 191 12
Davis Bertans 30 71 161 -5
Daniel Gafford 24 57 197 12
Isaac Bonga 10 24 151 -4
Deni Avdija 14 33 89 9
Russell Westbrook 41 97 12 10
Garrison Mathews 7 16 44 -9
Ish Smith 19 45 12 -14
Robin Lopez 10 23 -110 -17
Alex Len 13 31 -82 9

Warriors PPA

Kent Bazemore 35 84 275 7
Jordan Poole 25 59 172 6
Kelly Oubre Jr. 37 87 111 6
Draymond Green 32 77 100 -5
Kevon Looney 26 62 72 -7
Mychal Mulder 11 25 44 -9
Gary Payton II 0 0 0 -1
Andrew Wiggins 38 90 -29 6
Stephen Curry 36 86 -80 -23