For the second time in three games, the Wizards stepped onto the floor with one of the NBA’s better teams. And for the second time in three games, they got stomped. This time, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers doing the stomping. And it was clear from the beginning that the Wizards were hopelessly outclassed.
How bad was it? Cleveland scored on their first possession and never trailed. They outscored Washington by 30 points in the paint. They were +10 in fastbreak points. They shot just 4-19 from three-point range and won by 23. They won despite a so-so 7-17 night from Donovan Mitchell and despite the absence of starting center Jarrett Allen.
For Washington, in an important game against a good opponent, the so-called Big Three once again came up small. Bradley Beal scored an inefficient 22 points. Kristaps Porzingis managed 20 — also on poor efficiency — even though he was guarded for extended stretches by the 6-6 Lamar Stevens. Kyle Kuzma was out of control and staggeringly ineffective — possibly not fully recovered from the sore knee that sidelined him for the previous game.
When Cleveland defended Porzingis with size — in the form of Evan Mobley or Mamadi Diakite — Porzingis performed little better than he did against Stevens. The 7-3 Porzingis got his shot blocked twice in the game, one each for Mobley and Diakite.
Beal tried to deploy his usual offensive repertoire, but Cleveland did a good job of keeping him away from his favorite spots and forcing him into difficult shots. He was just 8-18 from the floor, and his 5 assists came with 3 turnovers.
No one in the rotation except Corey Kispert was ready to contribute much of anything. Kispert had what’s become a classic Kispert kind of game — 28 minutes, 12 points on 5-6 shooting, 2-3 from three-point range, 2 rebounds, 2 fouls and zeroes in every other category. His usage rate was 9%.
For some reason, perhaps an edict from the front office, the Wizards have introduced rookie Johnny Davis to the lineup. Playing him against the G-League level Detroit Pistons roster made some sense. Trying to use him against Cleveland in a game that winning was at risk and could have meant something was baffling. Davis hit 2-3 from the floor and grabbed four rebounds, but he wasn’t prepared to defend quality NBA guards, and his overall performance was poor. The Wizards were -21 in his 19 minutes.
For those keeping score at home, the Wizards have gone -33 in his 37 minutes the past two games.
The scary thing: that -21 wasn’t even Washington’s low mark for the game. That “honor” belongs to Kuzma — the Wizards were -22 in his 25 minutes on the floor. Kuzma’s performance was terrible — 7 points on 7 field goal attempts, 2 rebounds, 1 each of assists, steals and blocks, plus 4 turnovers and 5 fouls...in 25 minutes. If his physical ailments are such that this is the best he can do, he should sit until he’s healthier.
Deni Avdija had another atrocious game. He was 0-3 from the floor — all from three-point range), lowering his three-point shooting for the season to 28.5%. His defense was ineffective, and he managed just 1 rebound in 18+ minutes. His usual early fourth quarter minutes were given to Anthony Gill, who didn’t contribute much either.
The loss, combined with a win from the Chicago Bulls, dropped Washington to 12th in the East. They’re half a game behind the Bulls for 10th and tied with the Indiana Pacers by record. But Indiana holds the tie-breaker.
Next up: a challenging matchup against the Sacramento Kings, who lead the NBA in offense and come to DC second in the West with their first above-.500 record since 2005-06.
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 Cavaliers
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: Cavaliers