The 104-100 win against Atlanta Hawks, who led the Wizards by as many as 14 points on Wednesday, was full of missed opportunities that were common in losses to the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks.
In this one game alone, the Wizards made these mistakes multiple times and it's where they have to clean up if they want a winning record on a five-game road trip that begins Saturday at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They're completely busted more often than not, and in this one Otto Porter gets beaten as he recovers to the ball. Taurean Prince gets an unobstructed view at the rim and it's on Marcin Gortat to leave Dwight Howard to stop him. Instead he stays with Howard. The only chance the Wizards have at stopping this layup is for Gortat to help. If he blocks it, the ball either goes out of bounds and the Hawks have to reset and earn two points the harder way. Or maybe the ball stays inbounds and the Wizards collect it. Regardless of what happens, just allowing this straight-line drive can't be allowed. If Howard gets it and puts it back, so be it. At least that requires another effort by Atlanta to score. Howard can mishandle the rebound, miss the dunk or get fouled and be forced to make the foul shots.
Too many possesions begin and end like this. The ball doesn't move and the ballhandler, in this case John Wall, takes the shot after dribbling out the shot clock. When the Wizards were playing their best going 18-3 into the All-Star break, these plays were non-existent. They're better when they run motion, rip screen and down screen for each other and go away from the pick-and-roll as the first option. This puts the defense on the move, into switches and recovery. Then the Wizards would hit them with the pick-and-roll while in scramble mode of the intial action didn't produce a good look. Going to it as option one, unless there's a major mismatch that can be exploited, isn't as productive.
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How many times have you seen the Wizards deny a possession, force a bad shot or get the steal like Bradley Beal here, get in the open court for a 3-on-1 and end up with this? The passing, spacing and finishing just aren't there. They ended up getting fouled but this should be an easy momentum-building play.
Running crisp sets
John Wall attacks the basket but really doesn't have a seam. He ends up too far under the basket and has to loft up a prayer. His teammates didn't run this set with much zest. They don't make themselves available on spot-ups either so there are no other options. Wall is playing at one speed. They're all one speed slower.
Getting these stolen have become a bad habit. Defenders are trying to slow down the ball so they're staying at home on Wall to prevent him from getting a full sprint. Throwing quick outlet passes after a miss or trying to get a quick inbound to push the pace is what the Wizards are supposed to do. But the inbounder has to survey the floor before first and the guard receiving the ball has to communicate with him, too, if he spots a spy trying to jump the ball.
They have to be more aggressive by not allowing too much space when swapping players they must defend, particularly on handoffs. Switching is what must be done because handoffs are effectively screens if executed properly. To stop the ballhandler from going downhill at full speed, a switch has to occur. Any hesitation or delay creates a path to the rim or puts you in a position where you end up fouling. Markieff Morris, who has been limited by a sinus infection recently and mutliple bouts of early foul trouble, has gotten sent to the bench early because of it.
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