Category Archives: NBA
The Teams: Washington Wizards (0-9) vs Atlanta Hawks (5-4)
The Time: 7:30 PM
The Location: Phillips Arena. Atlanta, Georgia
The Coaches: Randy Wittman (18-40 with Wizards) and Larry Drew (89-68 with Hawks)
The History: In 274 games, the Wizards have lost to the Hawks more than they’ve won, being down 141-133 all time. They’ve played a lot over the years and this is one of their closer series all time, so it’s typically a good ball game every time these two teams step onto the court.
Why you should watch: Nene is coming back!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halleeeeeelujaaaaah! With reports coming out that Nene is expected to be in action for the first time Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, Wizards fans breathe a collective sigh of relief. Well, what’s left of the fan base that has been bludgeoned nine times to the face this year through loss after loss. But now, Nene is back to bolster a frontcourt that has been shredded game after game in the paint and has been unable to score too much there either.
Nene brings both, and a bit of rebounding prowess that might offset the inability of a certain French forward, and with them he also brings the promise of shattering that unsightly goose egg in the win column. Last season when the Wizards traded for Nene, they got considerably better as a direct result. They weren’t blowing teams out, of course, but they were actually winning. If he can provide similar results, Wizards fans will embrace him with open arms.
Key Points and Storylines
1.) What impact will Nene have?
Look, who knows what version of Nene we’re going to be getting. That has to be said, because he has yet to play a single game of basketball during this short NBA season, and it may take him awhile to get the hang of things again. He’s a fantastic player, but it might take time for him to get back into the swing of things. If he can make a quick recovery, then this team will be all the better for it. Conversely, if he looks slow and rushed back onto the court, then it will show and the Wizards may still be better served waiting more time for him to come back.
Nene is going to be asked to rebound and defend a lot since Okafor is in the dog house (really, the entire team is in the dog house). I’m just not sure he can do that right away…
2.) Can the Wizards shoot better?
Shooting under 40% as a team for the entire season (dead last in the NBA) is a recipe for an 0-9 season. The Wizards have followed that recipe to a T, and if they were wise, would do their best to deviate a bit from that course. Without better shooting, Washington will continue to pile up losses. Having one of the most efficient shooters/scorers in the NBA today in Nene will be a huge boon for getting that number above 40%, but that won’t change the fact that the Wizards take bad shots.
Early in the shot clock three pointers by A.J. Price and Jordan Crawford don’t help a lot, and Bradley Beal going 4-12 (as he did last game) has to change. Taking good shots is directly correlated to how many points this team has been scoring, which at 89 per game is last in the NBA as well. Changing that number, given the somewhat passable defense they’ve been playing, might secure a victory for Washington.
Prediction: Wizards win a close one against their divisional rival Atlanta Hawks ON THE ROAD in Nene’s return.
Heading to the arena, I knew last night was destined to be a night of firsts; I only could hope that one of those firsts include the Wizards’ finally landing on the winning side of things this season. Being new to this whole blogging thing (and being a player through college, not a journalist), I haven’t really experienced a “welcome to the media” moment until last night.
How was the game, a Pacers-Wizards matchup with the Wiz still desperate for the year’s first one, special you ask? The reason being it was my first opportunity of the season to take advantage of one of the Dime’s newest additions to our team, official Media Credentials. Entering the Verizon Center through the media entrance definitely made me feel pretty boss, but once I was presented with a personal badge for the game (name and affiliation included) I knew that not even another Wizards loss would be able to prevent me from having a good night.
Our next pre-game stop was the media lounge, where we would get a stats packet, our section assignments, and some pregame refreshments. The buffet surprisingly featured pork roast and leg of lamb, and even more shockingly at the table next to me sat David Alridge, a real NBA media vet. That’s when it all really sank in, and I realized that I was no longer just a fan, but a member of the media; during my career I never thought I would end up going this route, I always thought the media was a pain in the ass more than anything, but I can say that last night really validated the decision to start writing for me. After a short time, we headed up to our assigned section and prepared for the start of the game.
After an awkward set of player introductions where the loudest ovation may have been gone to the Pacers Roy Hibbert (a former Hoya), the Wizards came out flat as a board and got down big early. Hibbert, David West, and Paul George paced Indiana’s early scoring, and Washington stood offensively watching Jordan Crawford and A.J. Price force up contested jumpers. The Wizards fell behind 21-6 in the first quarter, and were never fully able to recover. It was not until the second unit, featuring Brad Beal, Shaun Livingston and Kevin Seraphin, hit the floor that the Wizards showed any signs of offensive life.
Lackadaisical second quarter effort from the Pacers and steady play from the bench unit was able to cut the lead going into halftime only down 9. The half was full of forced jumpers and bad isolations, but I liked the way the offense looked with Livingston at the point. With his size, we were able to use his post-up game and 1-on-1 ability against his smaller defender to get some good looks. His unselfishness, and the fact that as a PG he isn’t interested in leading the team in shot attempts (like our current starter does), makes him the clear best option for the team moving forward.
The second half started with the Wiz on a run, forcing Frank Vogel to call an early timeout. He was able to settle the troops, and they again opened up a large lead against our “starters”. Insert Beal and Livingston, and the game again turned around with another huge late 3rd quarter run. The Wiz trailed by 4 going into the 4th, and were able to draw even on a few occasions during the quarter. However, down the stretch David West hit clutch jumper after clutch jumper, the offense sputtered to get shot attempts, and we ultimately fell to a more talented opponent 96-89. Small consolation, but Beal had a huge second half tonight, continuing his emergence over the past few games. He scored 17 points during the half, aggressively searching for his shot from distance and not hesitating to attack the basket. I’m happy to see him continue to develop, and only hope he continues to shoulder the scoring load (even off the bench).
However, the story of course is the Wiz’s futility: with another game and another disappointing loss, the Wizards losing streak has now extended to a franchise-worst 9 straight to start a season. Ouch. The Wiz created enough chances for themselves with their comeback effort to pull off the win, but they were unable to get over the hump yet again. The slow start really derailed things, and our inability to defend the paint and rebound defensively cost us big down the stretch and throughout the contest.
After the conclusion of the contest, we headed down to the media lounge yet again for Randy’s post-game comments. He did not have much to say, in fact, he even admitted to having no idea what to do to improve, how to create rotations or get the team in a better position to be successful. Well without being able to establish rotations or style of play, he basically told us he had no idea how to properly do his job. Randy looked and sounded like a man who knew his days on the bench were numbered. Things certainly are not entirely his fault, our roster without Wall and Nene is the least-talented in the NBA, but the coach is always the first to go when things snowball downhill.
We moved from there to the locker room for brief player interviews before they headed off into the DC night. Seraphin, Beal, Crawford, and Livingston all expressed similar sentiments: the team is talented enough to win, they believe they can win, once they win one they will run off a few more, and they need to start better and play 48 minutes in order to win. Saying the right things sure, but the body language for some of the guys suggested they might not buy the story they’re selling.
Going through losing streaks are extremely tough on any athlete’s confidence, and this type of historic losing is extremely troubling. We need to get the taste of victory and soon before negativity creeps in around the team to completely derail our season. After a short time, the small crowd of media was herded out of the locker room, and my first evening covering an NBA basketball game came to an end. Certainly an evening of firsts for me at the Phone Booth, and regardless of the result, it’s one I doubt I will soon forget.
The Teams: Indiana Pacers (4-7) vs. Washington Wizards (0-8)
The Time: 7:00 PM
The Place: Verizon Center
TV/Radio: CSN (TV) 106.7 The Fan (Radio)
Washington gets back after it Monday night to attempt once again to right the ship after Saturday’s eighth consecutive loss to start the season. Tonight, the Wizards go up against the Indiana Pacers and their 1-6 record on the road. The Pacers come into this game having lost three of their last four contests, two of which were double digit losses on the road.
This will be the second time these two team have met this season with the first tilt going to the Pacers with an 89-85 victory. In that game Paul George was unstoppable, going for 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 37 minutes of action. Unfortunately, as we all know, the Wizards blew a 2 point lead after three quarters. Washington could only muster 13 points in the final 12 minutes, being outscored by 6 in the last frame.
Why You Should Watch:
This should be another ultra competitive game. The Pacers come into tonight’s matchup with a lead than imperative road record and are still without, arguably, their best player in Danny Granger. Stars riding the pine in suits is something Washington can certainly relate to as John Wall and Nene still have yet to suit up for the Wizards on this young season. Washington could be catching Indiana at the right time and hopefully that translates into the opportunity for our first win.
Key Storylines and Questions:
1) Who Starts?
Randy Wittman played musical chairs with his rotation Saturday night as Jan Vesely and Jordan Crawford were inserted into the starting lineup. After the game Wittman stated how, ideally, there’d be “8-9 guys” who know that they’re going to play and are comfortable with their role on the team. As of right now, we don’t have anything close to that. The amount of different lineups Wittman has chose to close games with this early in the season is mind boggling. I expect a few more surprises this evening.
2) Who Steps Up To Shoulder Some Of The Scoring Load From Jordan Crawford?
Jordan Crawford has been exactly what most wizards fans have expected so far this season. He is a bit of a microwave on offense as he can get hot in an instant, but up until this point he hasn’t had much in the sense of a wingman on that end of the floor. Saturday night Crawford led the team in points (20) and assists (8) and Trevor Ariza pitched in 16 points of his own keeping Washington in the game after Al Jefferson went crazy in the third quarter.
With the way Bradley Beal was aggressive in attacking the rim against Utah I would hope he is given more of an opportunity to do what he does well tonight, score the basketball. Our first round pick needs to see the floor for more than 13 minutes and change for Washington to have a chance tonight. Should Beal get benched for an entire quarter at a time, see the third quarter against Utah, it could be another long evening for the Verizon Center faithful.
Prediction: Washington plays hard but is unable to put together a complete 48 minutes of basketball as Indiana doubles their road win total.
Indiana: 92 Washington: 85
6:33 PM – Thirty minutes until tip off, and we’re hearing that Jan Vesely is going to start the game. Phew, now we at least know someone will be out there who can guard Gordon Hayward!
6:37 PM - Looking at the stats, Vesely is 1-of-9 on free throws this season, so it might be wise to look out for the Hack-A-Jan strategy if things get dicey later in the game
6:39 PM – I guess tonight Wittman decided that enough was enough, the starters are now: Price, Crawford, Ariza, Vesely, and Okafor. Beal has played his way to the bench. I guess Randy was a little upset that Beal was 4 for his last 25. What’s in a number?
6:43 PM – The Utah Jazz take the court for warm ups and are met with a resounding chorus of boo’s…from all sixteen people at the arena. Mo Williams feelings = hurt
6:48 PM – Wizards come out to 2 Chainz for warm ups a bit later. All I want for my birthday is a big blowout win!
6:52 PM – While I’m not excited for the thumping that may be Okafor vs Al Jefferson, I am excited to see two forwards who play incredibly similar games go up against one another in Kevin Seraphin and Paul Millsap. The two are extremely similar in their abilities, with Millsap being a bit older and a bit better at rebounding. Seraphin, however, has a much softer touch than him, and could potentially end up having a similar career if he gets more opportunities.
6:58 PM – Fun fact: Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster are the only two Wizards who warm up with their tops off.
7:00 PM – I was right in my assumptions: the Utah Jazz do not have a good traveling fan base. Unfortunately, the Wizards do not have a good fan base…so it really doesn’t matter. This place is emptier than Jessica Simpson’s head.
7:07 PM – That awkward moment when John Wall and Nene are the features of the pregame video and neither one has suited up for the team…
7:10 PM – Big Tigga is now telling everyone to remain standing until the Wizards score…boy has he fallen off since running The Basement on BET. Well, not really. Of course, the Wizards miss their first three shots down the court, causing the elderly considerable pain.
7:12 PM – Vesely attempting to box out against Jefferson, Millsap, or Favors is going to be funny all night. Fortunately, as the ball bounced off his head we got a rebound. Note: The header is NOT illegal in basketball. It’s just strongly discouraged.
7:15 PM – Of course, the next possession someone tries to pass to him and it bounces off him for a turnover. I think Vesely is going to try the “Look Ma, no hands!” strategy this game, which I’m okay with.
7:17 PM – On the Washington Wizards T-Shirt toss, I’m confident that three or four shirts literally just fell into empty chairs due to poor form by the Wizards cheerleaders and attendance…
7:21 PM – Vesely is now 2 of 13 on the season hitting free throws! Hack-A-Jan has already begun in order to stall the Wizards 15-2 run to start the first quarter. I can honestly say that it may just work. The Jazz have come out just as they were expected to, completely flat. They may in fact be a worse road team than the Wizards, and we are the worst.
7:23 PM – Gordon Hayward and Jan Vesely both defy the notion that white guys and Europeans are shooters. But then, Marco Belinelli may have defied that trend a long time ago.
7:30 PM – Apparently Bradley Beal can name more “car models” than Trevor Ariza with 16. Except I think that the Florida school system failed Bradley because “station wagon” and “sedan” aren’t models. Ariza was going off, naming Ferarri 599′s and Range Rovers
7:35 PM – Shaun Livingston checks into the game! Forgive me if I get extremely emotional about his presence on the court. For a kid with such promise, it was truly a shame to see him go down with that knee injury earlier in his career. He has recovered to have a very good one, but I can’t help but constantly think how much better it could have been. He is, however, a perfect example (and slap in David Stern’s face) of the advantages of taking the money and running with it. Had he gone to college and sustained such an injury, there would have been no chance for him. Prime reason why that rule is stupid.
7:36 PM – Every time I see G-Wiz, I can only hope that there is a barf bag nearby
7:40 PM – Jamaal Tinsley, a relic of the days when you could jump in the stands and punch fans out in Indiana, checks into the game. The Wizards also lose their lead. Coincidence? Doubtful…
7:42 PM: Bradley Beal with his first dunk of the year! It’s good to see him do well, it’s unfortunate that he was nowhere near ready to start for the Wizards at the beginning of the season. That being said, hopefully this will help him get some confidence back and return to proper form. I still have my reservations about his shot being able to fall consistently, but this is a start. Four points in the second quarter alone.
7:47 PM – Of course on the day I bash Gordon Hayward for not being all he was cracked up to be coming out of college he turns into the Hulk and drops 13 off the bench in about a quarter’s worth of playing time and dominates the Wizards. I remember watching him in college and thinking that he had the athleticism of a small forward in the NBA, because his moves were actually really silky and he could shoot a bit. Then when he came in, I realized he couldn’t shoot that well and he was just an athletic white guy who I had a man crush on during the tournament. Either way, he does have a place in the NBA somewhere.
7:52 PM – Trevor Ariza scores his 11th point of the game off a fastbreak steal. I mean, I know I’m critical of him but if he can become a defensive wing player who scores 11 points a game, I’ll be happy….
No, no I won’t. He has games like these that make you want to believe he’s a starter in the NBA, but it’s fool’s gold. I promise you it’s fool’s gold.
7:57 PM: Per my previous statements, I realized he’s dominating a game that is 33-31 with 2 minutes left in the second quarter and felt better about not being a fan of his just yet. Somehow, however, there is an entire section of Verizon chanting “MVP!” after Ariza converts an And-1. SMH
8:00 PM – Wizards lead at the half and the fans are happy. Solid 40 point outing for the first half? I’ll take it! 40-38 Wiz Kids
8:20 PM – Al Jefferson starts off the second half by giving Emeka Okafor a quick four points. It only took a half of basketball, but there’s a good chance from here on out Emeka is going to get lit up.
8:25 PM – AJ Price securing his status as the human microwave by hitting two three pointers, stealing the ball, making a layup, and then getting an assist to put the Wizards up 53-45. I love it when AJ is like this, I hate it when AJ is like how he could very well be the rest of the game (ill advised three point shots early in the clock). Such is life with Price.
8:30 PM – Here’s a beef with Jordan Crawford. Vesely extends a play with a fantastic rebound on the offensive end and mid air passes to Jordan Crawford for a wide open jumper. Crawford then backs up to the three point line, looking down to ensure that he’s behind it, and shoots a three pointer. While his head is still down looking at the three point line. Obvious miss.
8:35 PM – As predicted, Al Jefferson has 15 points and is now giving Emeka Okafor work from everywhere on the court. Even if Jefferson is the softest center since Kwame Brown to step foot in the Verizon Center, he is a great rebounder and absolutely kills so-so centers. Offensive machine.
8:40 PM – Nene looks great in a suit….
8:45 PM – Shaun Livingston just looks great on a basketball court. Running hook for two points, his game is throwback like an opposing team’s home run ball
8:50 PM – I think it’s safe to say the Wizards need to work on their interior play. Favors just jammed over two players, but Jefferson has been running roughshod over the Wizards the entire game. It’s not a matter of effort, it’s a matter of being taught the proper positioning in the first place. Talking to you, Randy.
8:55 PM – Bradley Beal finally enters the game a little into the fourth quarter. He didn’t touch the court during the third and I’m wondering why. Not that it really mattered, because the Wizards were up anyway. But they’re down now, so maybe he should play. That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.
8:56 PM – If Derrick Favors had missed both free throws, the entire arena would have won a free Chik-Fil-A sammie. Never heard Verizon louder than at that moment. Maryland, everyone.
9:00 PM – Five minutes left, the Wizards are down five points. This is where they shine!
9:01 PM – Correction. This is when Randy Wittman shines. Chris Singleton is in the game after sitting the first three quarters. Randy must have been impressed with his cheering ability. Me? Not so much.
9:05 PM -Correction again. The Wizards are now down 80-69 with 2 minutes and some change left. This is not their time to shine. What in God’s name happened?
9:07 PM – The entire stadium is emptying out, but the game is far from over. I have seen Tracy McGrady score like 13 points in 3 seconds so I don’t see what the BFD is
9:10 PM – That’s a ball game, ladies and gentlemen….Wizards let one slip right through their fingers 80-71…well it’s 80-71 with 45 seconds left so I think you can get the picture.
The Teams: Utah Jazz (4-6) vs Washington Wizards (0-7)
The Time: 7:00 PM
The Place: Verizon Center. Washington, D.C.
TV, Radio: CSN (TV), 106.7 FM (Radio)
The Washington Wizards are at it again for the second straight year; that is, they are attempting to halt a seven game losing streak in hopes of not breaking the franchise record for consecutive losses to start the season. Tonight’s entree? The Utah Jazz (because that name makes a lot of sense), who are coming off a 99-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and have now lost two straight games. Fortunately for the Wizards, they make be in some luck tonight as the Jazz aren’t particularly good on the road, winning only one of seven games on the road this season (that one came against Toronto).
Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards have been getting throttled at home and away, thanks in large part to slow starts and poor
shooting everything play from their starters. Of course, things could very well get worse with the questionable health of starting point guard A.J. Price heading into this game. Price turned his ankle earlier in the week against the Mavericks, which forced the Wizards to go out and sign the beloved Shaun Livingston in hopes of getting some depth at the position. With John Wall out, Livingston could see quite a bit of minutes today against the Jazz.
Why you should watch: The Wizards should win tonight
Yes, if you have been following this blog for any amount of time this year, you will have realized that we have predicted this plenty of times this season…but this time we mean it! The Utah Jazz are terrible on the road, and the Wizards are going to benefit from that big time. The Jazz shoot 42% from the field and average a shade under 92 points per game on the road this year. Contrast that with the fact that, at home, they average 100.7 points per game, and you can see why the Wizards might have a chance. I’m not predicting that Jazz fans will travel well for this game, so there could very well be plenty of Wizards fans who will actually give them an advantage in their home arena.
Jordan Crawford is coming off a fantastic 21 point, 7 assist performance against the Mavericks that almost brought the Wizards back from a 15+ point deficit, and it looks like he may be the starting point guard today. Even if he is the starting shooting guard, he’ll be going against either Mo Williams or Gordon Hayward, neither of which are going to be remotely good at guarding him. Crawford has a good chance to go off tonight and will have ample opportunity to shoot, so I could easily see him getting hot and becoming a major factor in this game going the Wizards way.
Key Storylines and Questions
1.) Will the Wizards get off to a slow start again?
Washington has been pretty terrible in the first half this season against, well, anyone. Against the Mavericks, it was the 19 point first quarter that put them behind early. With the Bobcats, it was the 12 point second quarter that doomed them. Hopefully Randy Wittman didn’t forget to fill up the tank against the Jazz tonight, so the Wizards won’t have to go to the gas station (the bench) to get moving early. A solid first half will go a long way to securing a Wizards victory.
2.) Shaun Livingston 2.0
Shaun Livingston’s last game with the Washington Wizards was back in 2009 against Indiana, where he put up 10 points and 7 rebounds in a 98-97 victory. Let’s just hope he can provide that same kind of boost this go ’round, because the Wizards are barren at the point guard position right now. He won’t provide the same boost from the three point line as A.J. Price has kind of done this year, but his passing ability may be much needed. That is, if he is any bit of the player the Wizards had a crush on a few years ago. The Wizards victory hinges on whether or not he is in shape enough to play solid minutes, and if he can dish the ball out to scorers like Beal and, believe it or not, Martell Webster (who can actually hit open shots).
Prediction: Wizards win this one by hitting a lot of their shots (which aren’t tons of three pointers) and minimizing turnovers.
By: Mike Bohlin
Well, maybe Ernie Grunfeld and Ted Leonsis were surfing Twitter last night after A.J. Price went down with an ankle injury and the “Shaun Livingston to DC” convention took shape.
The Wizards announced this afternoon that they have signed the former lottery pick. This means two things to me; first, Price’s injury must be serious enough where he’s going to miss game time. Secondly, it shows the confidence level Randy Wittman and the front office has in Jannero Pargo and Jordan Crawford being the primary ballhandlers until John Wall’s return.
I am more than fine with this move as I was one of the people who used their 140 characters of glory to voice how Livingston’s agent should be called immediately. Despite being out of the league to start the year Livingston has more natural talent than any other capable point guard suiting up for Washington at the moment. As long as Livingston can stay healthy there is no reason to believe he cannot help this team.
Livingston will make his season debut in front of the home crowd this Saturday at Verizon. If I were a betting man I’d be willing to say there is a good chance Livingston could go from the couch to the starting lineup. We’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime here is your newest (Again) Washington Wizard.
Shaun Livingston Washington Wizards Mix
Perhaps it was the 31 attempted three pointers against the Charlotte Bobcats that doomed the Wizards during last night’s 92-76 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. Correction: it was the 31 attempted three pointers that doomed the Wizards during last night’s 92-76 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Wizards have now lost their first six games of the season for the second straight year, and things simply do not appear to be going their way. The starters could do no right tonight and were completely out played by the Bobcats, shooting 15-of-43 from the field. For those doing math at home, that comes out to 35%, a number which was only slightly higher than the team’s 30% shooting from the field.
It’s not hard to figure out why the Wizards lost this game when you look at how badly they were dominated in almost every way. Starting with the turnovers, of which the Wizards had 17. The Bobcats played fantastic defense all night, which may or may not have something to do with the added intensity that #2 overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the table. Jordan Crawford led the charge on the turnover front, committing five of those deadly basketball sins in his 21 minutes of play off the bench. Careless ball handling and errant passes were abound in this game, but those would be excusable if the Wizards were shooting well. Unfortunately, they weren’t.
Which would lead us to yet another problem (and largely the main one) the Wizards had last night: their shot selection was absolutely atrocious. Since when did the Wizards become the Orlando Magic when they had Dwight Howard? The only person they added in the offseason who can supposedly shoot from long range is Bradley Beal, the rookie. And yet, he and newcomer A.J. Price managed to go 2-13 from long range, and in the process took a sledge hammer to numerous Wizards possessions that could have lasted longer had they not thrown up errant three pointers. The looks weren’t even good at times; these were contested shots that should have never been taken. The Wizards have a serious personnel crisis going on when Kevin Seraphin is the best shooter on the team. The return of Nene and Wall (whenever that is) is hardly going to be a massive difference if the current players can’t hit shots.
That being said, those two weren’t the only ones to blame for this disastrous effort, because the main culprit for taking very conspicuous shots was Trevor Ariza. Ariza decided yesterday was the day he was going to be aggressive and channel his Houston Rockets shot-jacking days, and threw up 18 unquestionably questionable shots, which equaled his shot total from the first three games he played as a Wizard combined. Maybe I am being hard on Ariza; after all, he was the only Wizards scorer in double-digits with 19 points. Then again, maybe I am not being hard enough on the Wizards coaching staff for allowing Ariza to even attempt that number of shots in the first place. A guy that hasn’t shot over 42% over the past three seasons is, simply put, not the guy you want taking the most shots of anyone in the game.
At the very least, that responsibility should have fallen to Bradley Beal, who cooled off considerably from his previous three days of scoring in the double digits. Beal finished the night on 1-of-11 shooting, and just looked to be forcing things out there far too often. I am not going to harp on Beal too much because he’s an incredibly young rookie who is improving game by game, but I will say that he didn’t help at all tonight. That being said, Beal has only missed one free throw on 22 attempts this year!
….so there’s that.
Back to Trevor Ariza. At this point in his career, Ariza is what he is: a so-so defender who is a role player at best. Sometimes role players carry you to victory, sure; I am not sure Ariza will ever carry this team to anything other than 0-7, 0-8, and 0-9. Or if he does continue to be more “dominant” during games, fans should expect the losses to keep piling up. He simply is not a player who the Wizards should rely on at any point in time for offensive output. But then again, they couldn’t rely on anyone tonight for offensive output.
About the only thing the Wizards got right this game? Rebounding. They equaled the rebounding efforts of Charlotte with 50 apiece, eighteen of which were offensive rebounds. I am pleased with that, but that is more a result of poor shooting from both teams, as 50 rebounds is a whole lot to have during a game. That’s what happens when neither team can break 40% shooting from the field. The Bobcats weren’t good today; the Wizards were just worse.
Either way, this team needs to tinker with some things, because the starting lineup is terrible. They get beaten by reserves consistently, which makes sense because Price, Beal, Booker, Ariza and Okafor (aka the entire starting lineup) would probably be bench players on most other teams. Maybe injecting Seraphin in over Booker would help. We started Singleton last year and appear to be on pace for zero wins, so why not add him in and resume playing like the team that won 20 games last year.
I am honestly speechless at the Washington Wizards for this stinker. They should have played better, and they didn’t. Time to move on.
Washington Wizards (0-5) vs Charlotte Bobcats (2-3)
Place: Time Warner Cable Arena - Charlotte, NC
Why you should watch: Its a division game!
The Wizards divisional schedule opens tonight as Washington travels to the Queen City to take on the Bobcats. Even though we didn’t do well against many teams last season the Wiz Kids essentially owned Charlotte. The Wizards need to keep this trend alive and well even though many of the parts have changed for both sides.
Ben Gordon has brought a new dynamic to the Bobcats offense that they severely lacked last season. He has filled it up for Charlotte in multiple games this season helping them to an early pair of wins. When he is in the game tonight the Wizards will have to, for lack of a better term, be all over him like a cheap suit.
Offensively I expect the Wizards to have a much needed breakout game. Charlotte is giving up 104 ppg on the season so far so that should give Washington a nice boost. I’m looking for Bradley Beal to continue his more inspired play this evening.
1) Which backcourt prevails?
The Bobcats get the bulk of their offense from the backcourt. If the Wizards can contain both Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon on the offensive end then they stand a good chance at notching their first victory of the season. Plain and simple, AJ Price and Bradley Beal need to out produce that pair to be successful tonight.
2) Which Trevor Ariza shows up tonight?
Ariza has been an enigma to me to say the least. I know he is a very competent and capable player in the NBA but for some reason he hasn’t put it all together in D.C. as of yet. After being a virtual no show the first few games it appears as if he’s beginning to see the light. I understand that learning a new system can be difficult but this team needs Ariza to a difference maker know order to win games.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jason Colenda, former Villanova men’s basketball player and current contributor to the DC Dime.
First Impressions: the Bradley Beal Edition
The Wizards gladly selected the 19 year old University of Florida freshman shooting guard, Bradley Beal, with our 3rd overall selection in this year’s draft. Beal had been highly regarded since his prep years in St. Louis, his effortless jump shot even being compared to Jesus Shuttlesworth himself. Watching Beal in college, I saw a kid who clearly had NBA-potential: he had a smooth offensive game and an NBA-ready body, but he never asserted his will over the inferior talent that he faced in the SEC. Granted, I don’t watch a ton of SEC hoops (I can’t suffer it the way Bohlin does), so I did not allow this limited sample size to affect my opinion. I remained hopeful Beal could put his obvious physical gifts to work and blossom into the type of player the experts all predicted. During summer league, which is no place to be making serious judgments about a player, #3 showed glimpses of what he could do, but certainly did not have the coming out party as say, Damian Lillard enjoyed. I knew playing alongside John Wall would definitely help a player like Beal flourish, with Wall’s drive and dish style opening the floor for a spot-up shooter to get open looks. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see the duo the front office has invested in as the franchise’s future play meaningful minutes together. However, through the first several games I’ve seen some things from the number three pick both positive and negative that I’d like to highlight.
Game 1 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
A matchup with a young and dynamic backcourt duo in Cleveland that he’ll see for years to come was Beal’s introduction to the NBA. I was looking forward to seeing the matchup with fellow rookie and 4th pick Dion Waiters. With very different styles of play, Waiters more of a defensive bulldog and offensive slasher, the matchup was going to be good to get a look at what Bradley’s made of. Pride is definitely on the line matching up with a player that was drafted above you, so Waiter’s was definitely going to come out swinging. It was a competitive game, but the matchup, and the game, went to Waiters and the Cavaliers. Dion was the more aggressive of the two, and Beal struggled to find his range, scoring 8 points in his first 22 minutes in the NBA on 2-8 shooting including 2-4 from three. He also contributed 3 assists and 3 boards, and overall it was not a bad first effort. Beal rarely forced action and let the game come to him, but I would like to see Bradley look for his own offense and not be afraid to attack off the dribble for pull-ups or dishes (as he’s shown he’s a willing passer). It’s his first game and he’s trying to fit into the NBA and with his Wizards teammates, but he also needs to realize he’s our best offensive option right now. I’d love to see Beal show some alpha-dog swagger and take over. Hopefully the home opener brings a more aggressive #3.
Game 2: Boston Celtics (home opener)
Does the loud ovation and adoration of the Phone Booth get you up for a game, Brad? Or how about matching up against one of the NBA’s most successful franchises, the Boston Celtics, for the first time? Going in, I was really excited to see how he reacts in the first big-game situation in his young career. Unfortunately, Beal came out and put forward a first performance for the home crowd that is one he is going to want to forget. He finished without a score from the field, and struggled with the rest of his game because of it. Courtney Lee blanketed him most of the night, focused on limiting his touches and in general making it an uncomfortable night for the rookie. Again, Beal never forced his own action and was too passive; but tonight, he showed some very poor body language because of his inability to get going. Even if his offense isn’t hitting, Beal needs to stay aggressive and involved on both ends of the floor. It’s tough in the NBA, and points won’t come easy. I want to see Beal take the pressure head-on, but he’s been entirely too passive and has struggled because of it. Tonight was a tough early lesson against one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, and let’s hope Beal bounces back and is more comfortable in his second shot at the Celtics.
Game 3: @ Boston Celtics
Bradley had a tough night against the Celtics in DC a few nights ago, and he’s looking to bounce back tonight. He came out on the attack for the first time in his young career, running the floor hard in transition to get a few open looks. It also helped that we consistently ran sets for the young guard to make sure he stayed involved. Still his shot did not fall most of the night, but I did not see it affect his performance in other aspects of his game. In fact, he showed some real confidence in himself late in the game sticking a go-ahead three in a hotly contested ball game. Beal finished the night playing a career high 38 minutes in the overtime contest, scoring 16 points on 6-15 shooting (including 3-8 from 3). The shot total was his most attempts in these three games and that’s a positive sign in my opinion. Starting shooting guards NEED to be shooting 15-20 times a night; they’re normally a team’s top scoring threat and Beal absolutely is that for the Wizards. Our offense looked best tonight when we were running sets to get Bradley looks, and he has already demonstrated a mature understanding that just because a play is run for you doesn’t mean you have to be the one shooting the ball. Brad’s done a good job taking what the defense gives him, which will continue to lead to open looks for his teammates as opponents focus their defensive attention on him. Beal has clearly been the focal point of the Celtic defensive preparation, that much was clear by the way they hounded him off the ball, and this will continue during his time in Washington. Tonight was the first time I began to see him embrace that challenge and meet it with an attacking mindset, truly encouraging growth for our young franchise guard.
Game 4: Milwaukee Bucks
Friday night saw yet another matchup against a dynamic backcourt, as Brendan Jennings, Monta Ellis and the Bucks visited the nation’s capital. Another tough matchup for Beal, as it pits him against one of the game’s great one-way players in scorer deluxe Ellis. Admittedly, this was the first game of the year I missed; my colleagues here at the Dime and I punted working for the day and instead were in attendance at the beautiful Barclay’s Center to cover Maryland v. Kentucky for our Terrapin Station site. However, we kept up on Gamecast (thanks technology!) and were disappointed to see an early lead fizzle into a fourth straight defeat. The silver-lining, of course, was Beal’s first 20 point game as a pro. In 34 minutes, Beal had his most efficient game going 7-14 from the floor at 8-8 from the line. He seems to be getting better each night out, and let’s hope Bradley can build on the last two performances and continue his early development
In his first outings as a pro Beal has continued to find her comfort-zone in the NBA game and his performances have improved each night out. He’s done nothing but show signs of why the Wizards were so high on his physical skills and potential, and at only 19 years old, if he if can continue to sharpen his mental approach he will hopefully continue to realize his immense potential. I look forward to seeing Beal on the receiving end of some Wall dimes in the near future, but I know the challenge of truly being the defenses focal point will only help him in his development.
The Teams: Washington Wizards (0-3) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (2-1)
The Time: 7:00 PM
The Place: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
The History: The Wizards are 77-110 All-Time against the Milwaukee Bucks, going 1-4 last year. The Wizards won their last matchup against them, however, 121-112 at home.
Why you should watch: The Wizards could very well get their first win at home!
Since Washington started off terribly against the Boston Celtics at home last Saturday, they lost their home opener as a result. Bradley Beal and the rest of the starters were playing terribly, and were yanked in favor of Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford. The two of them managed (albeit not singlehandedly) to cut a 16 point deficit to tie the game late, but the Wizards couldn’t finish the Celtics off. Now they take on the Milwaukee Bucks, who are a shaky 2-1, and have a very good chance to take this one.
Led by PG Brandon Jennings and SG Monta Ellis, the Bucks are an offensive heavy team that doesn’t really play a whole lot of defense. Their front court is less than daunting, with Samuel Dalambert not necessarily being the most dangerous threat down low, and Larry Sanders just coming into his own in the league. Basically, this means the Wizards are going to have a chance to score a lot of points, and have as good a chance as ever to pick up a win here.
Key Points and Storylines
1.) Bradley Beal vs. Monta Ellis
Bradley Beal finally started to take more than ten shots last game against the Celtics, much to the delight of Wizards fans, and the results were promising. With 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting, Beal wasn’t shooting well but it was a major improvement over his previous game, where he didn’t make a single shot (his only two points coming off free throws). Now he has a chance to go up against a player who plays worse defense than a misplaced traffic cone in Monta Ellis, so he could be primed for a big game.
Monta is a fantastic scorer, to be sure. He takes a lot of shots and defending him is a hassle given his quickness and ability to get the basket on slashes. But at a generous 6’2 (in Strength Shoes), Ellis is far from what one could consider a defensive strap. Other shooting guards routinely have career nights against this guy, and though I’m not suggesting Beal can do that, I do think he can have a pretty monster game.
If the Wizards can run a lot of plays through Beal (including some screens to get open from three), he may win this matchup against Ellis. Or rather, he could have a game that will whet the appetites of impatient Wizards fans who want results now.
2.) Kevin Seraphin’s scoring streak
Seraphin has been nothing short of impressive for the last 16 games, of which he has scored 10 or more points in each of those games. On the year, Seraphin is averaging 17.5 points and 8 rebounds per game, and has clearly benefitted from his experiences during the Olympics this summer. He is playing with a confidence that is making fans forget that the guy he backs up (Nene) hasn’t played a game this year. Tonight he goes up against Larry Sanders, who has just as notably stepped his game up this season, but will be facing a real test tonight against a very hot forward.
Seraphin’s success has come from his newfound jumper, which is clearing up space for him down low to pull off some finesse moves. If he can continue to knock down 15 foot set shots on a consistent basis, the Seraphin will continue to have monster games against forwards that aren’t as athletic as he is. It’s simple math.
The Wizards should very well win this game tonight for their first win of the season. They have been playing really good basketball lately, and while they haven’t been able to close games out against the Celtics, they are due for one. Since the Bucks can’t really play defense all that well, I’m going with the Wizards, who have actually played relatively well on defense.
Wizards win, 105-98