The Washington Wizards crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers — one of the NBA’s doormats — by 29 points last night.
Stomp wins can be more than a feel-good night where the starters get some rest and the scrubs get to frolic. Those big wins are a better signal of a team’s relative strength than its record in close games.
Now, the Wizards are just 5-8 in games decided by 20 points or more this season so don’t go too crazy. But they’re 3-1 in stomp games since they started their winning binge on April 7. True, those wins are beating up on the league’s weaklings — Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers. But, good teams pummel weaker opponents.
I’m not quite ready to proclaim the Wizards “good” yet. They’ve had extended stretches of stunning ineptitude this season — even when fairly healthy. But, they’re also 12-2 over their last 14 with a scoring margin of +7.8. That’s the scoring margin of a team that wins about 59 games over an 82-game schedule. Outstanding teams play that well over the full schedule, though — not just over a three-week stretch.
Last night, the Wizards rolled because nearly everyone played well. Raul Neto had a borderline perfect game — 6-7 from the floor, 2-2 from three, 5 rebounds, 3 asstists, 2 steals in 18 minutes. Because of the threes, Neto’s effective field goal percentage was 100%.
Russell Westbrook was terrific again. He produced another triple-double — 15 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists — in just 31 minutes. Considering he’s about to break Oscar Robertson’s all-time record for triple-doubles, it’s probably time for me to dust off my “era translator” to take measure of what he’s accomplishing.
Anthony Gill was awesome again — 4-5 from the floor with 4 assists and 2 steals in 19 minutes. It’s worth giving him regular playing time over the final 9 games to see if he merits a spot in the playoffs rotation. (See what I did there?)
Bradley Beal had a rough night — just 8-24 from the floor and not much in non-scoring production. It didn’t matter because virtually everyone else was excellent.
Next up: a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, who need to win to stay out of the Play-In Tournament.
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.
Wizards at Cavaliers
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.