With their season on the brink of collapse and reeling from a three-game losing streak, the Washington Wizards reached deep inside and summoned a supreme effort to defeat the mighty Detroit Pistons and take a courageous step towards making the NBA play-in games.
The Pistons came to town seeking to avenge a narrow defeat at the hands of these very Wizards just days before in Detroit. Led by lottery draft picks Killian Hayes and James Wiseman, the Pistons make a formidable opponent.
But the Wizards had a secret weapon — “a good talk.”
Following 3 straight losses, Bradley Beal says the Wizards "had a good talk yesterday as a team."— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) March 15, 2023
They won by 20 tonight pic.twitter.com/zRGjKvWjzS
As broadcaster Chris Miller noted late in the game, the Wizards played a strong defensive game. The team, which has had an amazing streak of bad luck on the defensive end for most of the past four decades, shut down engines of high-level offense like Killian Hayes, James Wiseman, Rodney McGruder and Eugene Omoruyi.
They even held R.J. Hampton, founder of Hampton, Virginia, to just 5 points on 2-7 shooting. Editor’s note: R.J. Hampton did not found Hampton, Virginia.
This wasn’t just a good performance. This wasn’t merely a case of a better team taking care of business against an injury-decimated opponent severely lacking in NBA-quality players. Nay, it was an epic win, a colossal blow against the tyranny of vile schedule-makers, a towering achievement of genius and fortitude and vision.
And so ends my audition for NBC Sports Washington.
- This is probably what an empty-gym workout looks like for him but still — Beal torched the Pistons with 36 points on 15 field goal attempts. He tacked on 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block. His PPA (see below) was a staggering 565.
- Deni Avdija shot 6-8 from the floor, hit a three, and had 6 rebounds and two assists.
- Monte Morris had a quietly efficient 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
- Johnny Davis minutes in both the first half and the second half.
Not So Good Stuff
- Johnny Davis set new career highs in everything, which makes sense because he’s barely played in the NBA this season, and he was going against a G-League lineup.
That's a lot of yellow— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) March 15, 2023
Heck of a game, young blood! pic.twitter.com/91Ae3jq6YX
In 19 minutes, he shot 5-11 from the floor and 0-2 from the free throw line. He grabbed five rebounds, which is good, and he had a turnover and a foul. That’s basically a replacement level performance. It was good to see him out there making some actual basketball plays even if they looked a bit shaky. But the defense was at its worst with him in the lineup, and the team was -12 when he was on the floor.
- The Wizards were once again guilty of playing with their food. They rolled into the fourth quarter leading by 25 and let the Pistons cut the advantage to just 11. Wes Unseld Jr. got nervous enough that he Beal, Monte Morris and Daniel Gafford back into the game in place of Davis, Porzingis and Avdija.
Next up for the Wizards: a pair of games against teams that will be in the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings. The Cavaliers have the league’s best strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin, the second-ranked defense, and the ninth-ranked offense. Sacramento is number one in offense and 26th on defense.
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: Pistons at Wizards
Stats & Metrics
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. 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 112.0. 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.
+PTS = “Plus Points,” this stat 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
Stats & Metrics: Pistons