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Wizards season crashes to an end

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Will head coach Scott Brooks be back?

Washington Wizards v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Five
Wizards forward Rui Hachimura had a solid series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Now he needs to put in the offseason work to become the player the Wizards need.
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Wizards’ 2020-21 season came to an unceremonious end with a 17-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, who were playing without their best player, Joel Embiid. Despite the absence of an MVP-level performer, the Sixers pummeled the Wizards to close out the series 4-1.

The Wizards had their own injury travails, of course. Starting center Thomas Bryant was out with a torn knee ligament, as he has been all season, and Davis Bertans was sidelined with a strained calf. Washington got by in the middle with Daniel Gafford and Robin Lopez. Their only real options with Bertans out of action: three-guard lineups. At least if they wanted to have lineups with NBA-caliber players on the floor.

For the Wizards, no one played all that well in game five. Rui Hachimura and Bradley Beal were the only players with significant minutes who produced at league average or better — and they just barely managed it.

Hachimura scored efficiently (21 points on 13 FGA — an offensive rating (individual points produced per individual possessions used x 100) of 144 — but his usage rate was just 15% and he managed just 6 rebounds, 2 assists and zero steals or blocks in 43 minutes of playing time. That stat line included zero rebounds, assists, steals or blocks in 22+ minutes of second-half action.

It’s fair to note that Beal and Russell Westbrook dominated the ball — they had a combined usage rate of 71%, and Ish Smith at 17% was the only other guy in the rotation to crack 15% usage. Given Hachimura’s scoring efficiency and effectiveness attacking closeouts during the series, it seemed logical to run more drive-and-kick sets with him on the weakside wing. Those opportunities were infrequent, however.

Beal’s overall performance rated about league average, which is solidly below his normal performance. His scoring efficiency was subpar — 10-23 from the floor with 5 turnovers — but he also contributed 7 rebounds and 5 assists and did a good job getting to the free throw line (10-10 for the night).

He’s made a habit over the past several seasons of coming back from the offseason with new skills. On his offseason list, I’d put passing quickly out of double teams near the top. (I’d also pencil in: “don’t drive baseline against Ben Simmons when Dwight Howard is in help.”)

Philly’s double teams didn’t stop him from scoring, but they were able to drag down his — and the team’s — offensive efficiency because Beal’s first instinct is to try to split it and score. That sometimes works against more normal defenders, but the 76ers employ several elite defenders (even with Embiid out). Against that kind of defense, the right play is to move the ball and trust your teammates to make a play.

In fairness to Beal, the roster was poorly constructed, lacked talent and didn’t show itself over the course of the season to be particularly trustworthy in that whole “making plays” thing. They got as far as they did this season in large part because he took the scoring burden on himself and succeeded. That said, he should work on moving the ball quickly against double teams and urge the front office to upgrade the roster.

Of course, the team’s most pressing piece of business is the fate of Scott Brooks. Assuming they’re going to replace him, an announcement could come Thursday morning. The more time that passes before news emerges he won’t be back, the more likely I think it is he gets a two-year extension so his tenure synchs with Westbrook’s contract.

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.

Game 5: Wizards at 76ers

FOUR FACTORS 76ERS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS 76ERS WIZARDS
EFG 0.565 0.544
OREB 8 7
TOV 8 15
FTM 34 26
PACE 101
ORTG 128 111

Player Production Average

Player Production Average (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). 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.

PTS = points scored

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average this season was 112.3.

USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.

ORTG and USG are slightly modified versions of stats created by now-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.

Game 5: Wizards By the Numbers

WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA +/-
Rui Hachimura 43 89 21 144 14.9% 108 -15
Bradley Beal 40 83 32 108 36.2% 101 -14
Russell Westbrook 38 79 24 102 35.0% 58 -21
Raul Neto 30 62 8 147 8.9% 63 -8
Daniel Gafford 29 60 8 99 12.3% 47 -7
Robin Lopez 17 36 7 139 11.3% 74 -9
Chandler Hutchison 2 3 2 195 22.5% 443 2
Ish Smith 26 54 9 92 16.6% 18 -14
Alex Len 2 3 0 0 0.0% 63 2
Isaac Bonga 2 3 0 0 0.0% 0 2
Garrison Mathews 3 6 1 113 14.8% -250 0
Anthony Gill 11 22 0 0 9.5% -205 -3

Game 5: 76ers By the Numbers

76ERS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA +/-
76ERS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA +/-
George Hill 22 49 14 176 16.1% 187 2
Ben Simmons 25 54 13 138 20.0% 153 4
Danny Green 31 69 11 107 15.0% 96 -7
Furkan Korkmaz 11 25 7 166 14.4% 195 4
Tyrese Maxey 22 48 15 117 23.2% 88 -8
Matisse Thybulle 15 34 8 114 16.0% 101 -9
Joel Embiid 11 25 8 112 30.1% 120 2
Tobias Harris 37 83 21 92 27.4% 16 -8
Seth Curry 28 62 10 93 15.3% -5 -11
Mike Scott 17 37 0 51 9.9% -22 5
Shake Milton 7 16 6 98 33.6% -54 -4
Dwight Howard 14 30 1 60 19.5% -122 -10