The Wizards got their eighth straight win despite lackluster defense and an off night from Russell Westbrook and Davis Bertans because the Cleveland Cavaliers really are that bad, and they got quality scoring from Bradley Beal, a terrific third quarter from Raul Neto and an outstanding all-around game from Daniel Gafford.
Washington had been playing better defense of late, but that was largely missing last night — except when Gafford, Bertans and Garrison Mathews were on the floor together. Gafford was surely the key. The box score credited him with 4 steals and 4 blocks. Video review shows that one of the steals should have been credited to Beal, and another was more of a rebound — Cleveland had a failed lob and the ball bounced to Gafford.
One of Gafford’s blocks was mis-credited. It should have gone to Ish Smith.
To digress for a moment, while the team’s defensive improvement the past few weeks largely coincided with Gafford’s arrival, he wasn’t a primary driver. The team’s defense continued improving during the seven games he misses with an ankle injury. Looking only at games in which Gafford played, the team was actually 6.7 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he sat.
That wasn’t the case last night, however. The Wizards allowed the Cavs an offensive rating of 113 (about 7 points better than their season average); they allowed an ortg of just 93 when Gafford was in the game.
Don’t get too hung up on the outstanding game from Cleveland center Jarrett Allen (27 points on 12 field goal attempts, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocks). There’s more to the game than the official counterpart matchup, and Gafford was outstanding for the Wizards.
As usual, Beal was a tough cover. He finished with 33 points on 24 shots with just 2 turnovers. That’s outstanding efficiency — just 7 zero-point possessions on a night he poured in 33 points. Of concern: he turned an ankle late in the game and was limping the rest of the way. I’d be surprised if he plays in tonight’s matchup with the San Antonio Spurs.
Robin “Captain Hook” Lopez will likely join Beal on the sidelines. He appeared to turn an ankle as well, went straight to the locker room and didn’t return to the game. In just 11 minutes, he had 14 points on 5-5 shooting and 5 rebounds. It’s amusing to consider that the Wizards signed him for rim protecting and boxing out, and one of his biggest contributions is his “jump” hook.
Whether Lopez can play or not, the Wizards coaching staff should consider pushing Gafford into the starting lineup and extending his minutes. There’s no reason he shouldn’t play 30-32 minutes per game the rest of the season.
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: Cavaliers at Wizards
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.
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