The Wizards came back to the DC and thumped the Raptors to pull into a virtual tie with Toronto for 9th place in the Eastern Conference. As a certified crummy road team, the Raptors didn’t give the Wizards a whole lot of trouble. Sure, they cut the lead to single digits a few times in the second half, but their inability to make shots helped Washington coast home with a solid victory.
The Wizards got off to a great start with a 10-0 run by Kyle Kuzma, who made his first six field goal attempts. Toronto rallied, fell back in the second quarter, and then kept things just close enough to prevent garbage time at the end.
For Kuzma, it was a weird game. After his 6-6 opening salvo, a national NBA reporter raved about Kuzma’s prodigious talent. Then he finished out the night by hitting 4 of his last 20 shots.
While it was an important and meaningful win for Washington, I was mainly struck throughout the night by how bad Toronto looked. Their offense is hamstrung by the inability to make threes and a dearth of players who can create good shots for themselves or their teammates.
On defense, their plan was to play lots of mid-sized players and switch constantly to protect the paint, force turnovers and challenge shots on the perimeter. That was the theory anyway. In reality, they can’t seem to keep anyone in front of them, and they give up lots of at-rim and three-point attempts. Those are high efficiency shots in general, and the Raptors give up high percentages of each.
And it gets worse. They allow the most corner threes in the league and the ninth highest corner three percentage.
They’re still about average defensively because they lead the NBA in forced turnovers, but the overall feeling I get watching them is that they’re sloppy and disorganized. That’s not exactly a strong endorsement of head coach Nick Nurse.
The road ahead looks fairly promising for the Wizards to achieve their goal of making the play-in. My prediction machine has them favored in four of the next five, and five of the next seven games. After that, the schedule tightens a bit, but 11-12 wins over the final 20 games is realistic. That would almost assure them of finishing no worse than 9th, and perhaps as high as 7th.
- Delon Wright played a strong starting in place of the injured Monte Morris. He scored just seven points, but he had 6 rebounds, 11 assists and 3 steals, and he committed zero turnovers. Once again, nearly mistake free basketball.
- Daniel Gafford put on a raucous display of circus dunks, including an aerobatic throw-down of a Deni Avdija lob and a dribble drive poster dunk past two defenders. For the game: 8-10 from the floor.
- Kuzma started 6-6 from the floor and produced 5 rebounds to 3 turnovers.
- Kristaps Porzingis scored efficiently (25 points on 12 field goal attempts), and his length made it difficult for the Raptors to finish around the rim.
- Jordan Goodwin was solid again in a reserve role — 5 points on 3 field goal attempts and 5 rebounds in just 12 minutes.
Not So Good Stuff
- The 7-3 Porzingis had trouble a couple times getting a shot off against the 6-1 VanVleet. On one play, he failed to back VanVleet down and ended up committing a bad pass turnovers. On another, he failed to back VanVleet down and finally scored when Bradley Beal had him repost. It shouldn’t be that difficult with a 14-inch height advantage.
- Speaking of Beal, he got suffocated by Toronto defenders, especially O.G. Anunoby. While the Raptors seemed disorganized much of the night, they did manage to avoid switching VanVleet onto Beal very often.
- While both Gafford and Porzingis played well, they also had difficulty controlling Toronto big man Jakob Poeltl, who had 23 points on 8-9 shooting, 13 rebounds (including 4 from the offensive glass), 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. They’ll need to figure out how to contain him for their matchup tomorrow.
Below are the four factors that decide wins and losses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).
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: Raptors
|Gary Trent Jr.||18||36||66||14.7%||-2.6||-18||0.0||-26|