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Breaking down the Wizards’ loss to the 76ers last night

Stats, analysis, commentary.

Washington Wizards v Philadelphia 76ers
The Wizards lose again, this time to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Congratulations to the Washington Wizards’ defense, which maintained its perfect streak of holding opponents to less than 150 points. Last night, they victimized reigning Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, who could manage only 146 points against the stalwart Washington defense.

Embiid scored just 48 points on Daniel Gafford and the Wizards, who gave him so much resistance that he might have needed up to another minute of playing time to crack 50. His offensive rating (points produced per individual possession x 100) was a mere 156 on a usage rate of 40.3%.

In other news, the Wizards outscored Philadelphia by four in the fourth quarter. The team has the NBA’s second best fourth quarter scoring differential at +4.2. This is a critical achievement that will become meaningful if they ever manage to figure out the first three quarters.

For the record, here’s where they stand in scoring differential by quarter through their first six games:

  • 1st quarter — 24th, -3.2
  • 2nd quarter — 25th, -3.8
  • 3rd quarter — 30th, -8.0
  • 4th quarter — 2nd, +4.2

Why has the third period been so bad for Washington? My guess: it’s at halftime that the opposition’s starters get serious about putting the game firmly out of reach. If they stomp the Wizards out, they get to rest before going out for dinner or heading to a team flight.

In a sense, the Wizards are doing opponents a service — the benches clear but without a brawl. Everyone gets minutes. Everyone gets the chance to try stuff and show skills the coaches haven’t seen yet.

Maybe Ted Leonsis could turn this into a revenue stream.

Another factor: the talent differential is going to be at its greatest when the both teams have their starters on the floor. For example, Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris could each be the best player on the Wizards.

In the fourth quarter, the deep bench guys take over, and those guys are “about the same.” The Wizards Garbage Time Gang maybe has an advantage because they’re going hard to maybe get some real playing time while the opposition’s bench warmers coast a little with a big lead.

It’s a theory.

What was good?

  • Kyle Kuzma was efficient again — 28 points in 30 minutes on 12-20 shooting. He went 4-5 from deep, and four assists to just two turnovers.
  • Deni Avdija played well — 16 points on 8 shots, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal. A couple of his weaknesses through his first three seasons: turnovers and fouls. Last night, he had just one of each.
  • Jordan Poole was better — 23 points on 8-15 from the floor and 4-9 from three. And he had 6 assists to 2 turnovers.
  • In the first half, CORRECTION: In the third quarter, Wes Unseld Jr. and the coaching staff used Bilal Coulibaly as a screener in pick-and-roll actions. The play had Coulibaly ghost the screen and sprint to the wing, firmly separating from his defender. With a shooter in the corner (Corey Kispert once, and Mike Muscala another), Coulibaly got great looks from three. He missed one, and hit the other over a late contest from Embiid.
  • In garbage time, Unseld and the coaches used Coulibaly as the ball handler in pick-and-roll actions. He got to the rim twice, once scoring a bucket against KJ Martin and Furkan Korkmaz, and once missing wildly against a host of defenders. He also got downhill a third time and fed Omoruyi for an open three (which he missed).

What was not-so-good?

  • Defense. Atrocious. Abysmal. Awful. Again. Philly shooters frequently walked into wide open threes because Washington defenders couldn’t manage simply finding their matchup.
  • Daniel Gafford was overwhelmed by Embiid, and his defensive numbers will look bad when the NBA gets around to publishing them. But...it really wasn’t his fault. Embiid did considerable damage as the roll man in pick-and-roll. The problem was the guards (mostly Jones) failing to navigate the screen quick enough to let Gafford to get back to his matchup. The team also got ineffective defense at the nail (Avdija and Kuzma). Andy they had communication issues in their zone. Several times, Gafford had to pick up a cutter in the lane, and no one rotated to Embiid on the perimeter...until it was too late.
  • Last night was the third time in six games that Washington allowed an opponent effective field goal percentage of 60% or higher. Average is 53.4%. Including the Philadelphia debacle, Washington’s defensive efg this season is 59.9%.
  • Garbage Time hero Eugene Omoruyi got nearly three minutes of first quarter action. He produced a rebound and an assist, as well as 2 turnovers and 2 fouls. The team was -8 in those first quarter minutes.
  • The 76ers were +30 in Nicolas Batum’s 18 minutes, and that wasn’t even the craziest plus/minus number of the night. That honor goes to Patrick Beverly — Philly was +27 in his 12 minutes of action.

Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide wins and losses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).

Four Factors: Wizards at 76ers

FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS 76ERS
FOUR FACTORS WIZARDS 76ERS
EFG 0.583 0.626
OREB 10 10
TOV 19 15
FTM 16 32
PACE 111
ORTG 115 132

Stats & Metrics

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score. 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. 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 sometimes producing weird results.

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

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average last season was 114.8. 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 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.

+PTS = “Plus Points” is a measure of the points gained or lost by each player based on their efficiency in this game compared to league average efficiency on the same number of possessions. A player with an offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) of 100 who uses 20 possessions would produce 20 points. If the league average efficiency is 114, the league — on average — would produced 22.8 points in the same 20 possessions. So, the player in this hypothetical would have a +PTS score of -2.8.

Stats & Metrics: Wizards

WIZARDS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Kyle Kuzma 30 69 132 27.5% 3.9 188 23.0 -4
Deni Avdija 28 64 167 16.6% 5.9 194 21.9 -10
Jordan Poole 31 72 137 22.4% 4.1 125 16.0 -4
Tyus Jones 33 75 114 15.0% 0.3 78 10.4 -4
Daniel Gafford 30 69 119 15.7% 0.8 80 9.8 -4
Anthony Gill 8 19 138 18.4% 0.9 205 6.7 6
Bilal Coulibaly 19 45 128 14.8% 1.1 65 5.1 -15
Delon Wright 5 11 135 19.9% 0.5 129 2.6 -15
Ryan Rollins 10 24 72 40.7% -4.0 35 1.5 1
Johnny Davis 14 32 73 21.2% -2.7 -9 0.0 -6
Danilo Gallinari 4 9 54 22.7% -1.1 -86 0.0 -9
Mike Muscala 3 8 0 9.6% -0.8 -152 0.0 -3
Eugene Omoruyi 11 25 77 23.6% -2.0 -62 0.0 -2
Corey Kispert 14 32 59 16.4% -2.8 -177 0.0 -21

Stats & Metrics: 76ers

76ERS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
76ERS MIN POSS ORTG USG +PTS PPA GmSC +/-
Joel Embiid 31 71 156 40.3% 12.5 351 43.9 15
Tyrese Maxey 32 73 151 21.1% 6.1 220 28.6 9
Nicolas Batum 17 40 216 9.4% 4.0 305 21.8 30
Patrick Beverly 12 27 162 20.7% 2.8 388 18.5 27
Tobias Harris 31 71 127 20.7% 2.3 132 16.5 9
De'Anthony Melton 26 61 133 15.9% 2.1 148 15.9 2
Robert Covington 4 9 237 25.9% 3.1 923 15.3 0
Paul Reed 14 31 159 13.9% 2.0 232 12.9 9
Marcus Morris Sr. 6 15 127 13.2% 0.3 132 3.5 7
KJ Martin 4 9 60 11.1% -0.5 -2 0.0 -6
Danuel House Jr. 7 16 127 12.7% 0.3 -23 0.0 -9
Mo Bamba 4 9 69 32.3% -1.3 -61 0.0 -6
Furkan Korkmaz 14 33 68 12.8% -1.9 -32 0.0 5
Kelly Oubre Jr. 27 61 45 13.5% -5.6 -45 0.0 -6
Jaden Springer 12 28 43 21.6% -4.2 -132 0.0 4