3-point play: Wizards-Celtics, part deux

3-point play: Wizards-Celtics, part deux
November 7, 2012, 11:00 am
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Washington Wizards power forward Kevin Seraphin (13) controls the ball as Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) defends in the second half at the Verizon Center.

(Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)

Three keys for the winless Wizards (0-2) heading into Wednesday' night tilt at Boston, the back-end of a home-and-home series with the Celtics.

*Remain defensive - After answering a series of questions about the team's struggling offense in two close losses, Wizards coach Randy Wittman made a salient point: it's because of the team's much improved defense that Washington was able to have a shot at wins despite the offense not clicking. Heck, the man called the Saturday's second half defense against Boston "beautiful". Especially without John Wall and Nene in the lineup, the Wizards identity, at least to the outside world, is non-existent. Those that have watched throughout training camp know that defensively is where this team can - and must considering its limited scoring options - make its mark. Two games is a nice start. Make it three and then four, now we have a trend.

*Offensive balance - Right now it's easy to critique Bradley Beal's scoring struggles, but the reality is the wing guard is the only pure scorer, shooter among the starting five. Guess what, opposing teams know this. That's why they are focusing on stopping the 19-year-old rookie while conceeding perimeter shots to veteran's like Trevor Ariza or not doubling 30-year-old Emeka Okafor in the low post. The Wizards don't have tons of other ways to go for scoring punch - maybe even fewer if Jordan Crawford's ankle injury keeps him out -, though Kevin Seraphin sinking 8 of 9 shots for 19 points on Saturday against the same Celtics suggets they have at least one inside. Wittman was not willing to state whether the 6-foot-10 center would enter the starting lineup, but Boston would certainly send a double-team Seraphin's way. That would open the court for Beal and let others revert to their more natural roles. We'll see if the coach see it that way.

*Production beyond points: Speaking of Ariza, here's hoping he bought a relaxation tape - or six - since Saturday. Throughout camp the defensive presence has been out of sorts offensively - which has carried over to other parts of his game. So much so that when Wittman offered a detailed list of what he wants out of his small forward, offense wasn't one of them. Considering he'll likely be tasked with trying to contain Paul Pierce, Ariza will be busy for sure without focusing on making buckets, not that he did that once on Saturday. Wittman offered the same simple advice for Beal; grab rebounds, play defense, basically get the juices flowing in those directions which will take some pressure, mental anyway, away from the shooting woes. Beal left college with legitimate rebounding credentials, but Wittman made a point of telling the media the 6-foot 4 guard (or 6-foot-5, or 6-foot-3, depending on the source) grabbed only one board against Boston on Saturday. Even if his scoring doesn't improve in the rematch, Beal numbers on the board and elsewhere figure to be a good indicator of whether he's gotten all those "people in my ear" out of there.