The NBA gets weird sometimes. Last night, the Dallas Mavericks came to DC 19 games over .500, sitting third in the Western Conference, and with playoffs seeding on the line. The Wizards were nine games under .500, in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, and eliminated from even the play-in games.
Naturally, the Wizards blew the Mavericks doors off, 135-103. Washington never trailed, led by double digits the entire second half, and were +16 in the fourth quarter. Washington bookended the game with 41 points in the first quarter and fourth quarters. Nothing like lovely parting gifts to former Wizards Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Not to get too technical, but here’s last night’s game summarized: Everyone who played meaningful minutes for the Wizards was good-to-great, except Corey Kispert. Everyone who played meaningful minutes for the Mavericks was terrible, except for Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson.
What Went Well
- Offense. The Wizards’ 138 offensive rating is their best of the season. Their previous high was 135 against the Indiana Pacers on March 6. Their 63.9% effective field goal percentage is their third best shooting night of the year.
- Ball movement. The Wizards tallied 33 assists on 49 field goals. Those 33 assists tie for their 6th highest total of the season. Leading the way: Ish Smith with 9, Tomas Satoransky with 7 in just 15 minutes, and Rui Hachimura and Kristaps Porzingis with 4 apiece.
- Rebounding. Washington was +9 on the glass, and they held the Mavericks to just 5 offensive rebounds — their second-lowest total of the year.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope poured in 35 points — a new season high. His career high was 38 on February 1, 2017 against the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans was led in that game by Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. KCP’s Detroit Pistons teammates included Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris (off the bench), Ish Smith (27 minutes and 7 assists off the bench in that game), and Reggie Bullock. Also on that Pistons team: Boban Marjanovic, who took a DNP for Dallas last night, as he did for Detroit on KCP’s career night.
What Didn’t Go Well
- If you want to nitpick, maybe head coach Wes Unseld Jr. could have divvied up the PG minutes to give Satoransky more playing time. Perhaps Unseld should have pulled Porzingis off the floor and started Official Garbage Time a few minutes earlier.
- Oh, and Unseld failed to orchestrate the matchup discerning fans really wanted to see: Deni Avdija vs. Davis Bertans.
Observations and Miscellany
- Spencer Dinwiddie, who you’ll find at the very bottom of the Key Stats chart below, played as he did most of the season in DC. He was 2-6 from the floor to finish with 8 points and 3 turnovers in 23 minutes.
- Also in DC form? Davis Bertans, who in 10 minutes, missed a three-point shot and had zeros across the rest of the stat sheet. Except in the +/- column. The Mavericks were -10 in his 10 minutes.
- With the win, the Wizards went to 3-2 in games officiated by Tony Brothers. The Mavericks went to 2-3. Washington may want to figure out how to get Gediminas Petraitis assigned to more of their games — they’re 4-0 when he’s on the whistle this season.
The 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: Mavericks 103 at Wizards 135
Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). 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).
Game Score (GmSC) converts individual production into points on the scoreboard. The scale is the same as points and reflects each player’s total contributions for the game. The lowest possible GmSC is zero.
PPA is a per possession metric designed for larger data sets. In small sample sizes, the numbers can get weird. But some readers prefer it, so I’m including PPA scores as well. Reminder: in PPA, 100 is average, higher is better and replacement level is 45. For a single game, replacement level isn’t much use, and I reiterate the caution about small samples producing weird results.
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 is 111.7. Points produced is not the same as points scored. It includes the value of assists and offensive rebounds, as well as sharing credit when receiving an assist.
USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.
ORTG and USG are versions of stats created by 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.
Key Stats: Wizards
Key Stats: Mavericks