The Big Picture
Right now Wizards Nation is trying our bearings after the Trade Deadline. I think, while these first three games have been exciting and kind of encouraging, we also have been hesitant to get excited because of the enormous looming off season. Who will come and who will go is the question to ask right now as 11 players (if we count Dwight Howard with a player option, and Jabari Parker with a team option) will need new contracts next season. The uncertainty facing this team right now is nearly unprecedented in franchise history.
This week did little to relieve concerns in my book. Some will point to the two wins and call the week a positive, I counter by saying that the two wins were against the 3rd and 4th worst teams in the NBA and neither one was a blowout. The only game that was against even semi-playoff caliber talent was the Pistons game…where Washington lost. Currently the Wizards are three games out of 8th place in the east directly behind the Magic. The reason I say that is because it occurred to me today that I would much, much rather be the Magic right now than the Wizards, let that sink in. That is the state of the franchise.
The Last Week
W vs CLE 119-106 (2/8)
Bobby Portis made one hell of a first impression in red,white, and blue didn’t he. Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably at least heard a rumbling of Bobby Portis’ 30 point debut in DC.
This game started off slow for the Wizards as they just couldn’t get a good push out of the gate with a lackluster crowd and three new rotation players. That all changed in a big way when Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker entered the game fresh outta Chicago. Portis would make his first seven shots as a Wizard as he entered halftime with 18 points and didn’t slow much the rest of the way. The other former Bull, Jabari Parker also had a good, albeit quieter night than Portis with 7 points, 11 boards, and 9 assists. He looked a little gun shy at times, but was still solid while on the floor.
The Wizards entered halftime with a 66-52 lead. They would start the 2nd half on a 9-0 to extend the lead to 23 points, however Cleveland was far from finished with a monster third and early fourth quarter. They would cut the lead all the way to four points before Trevor Ariza and Bobby Portis buried back-to-back threes to end the comeback.
Overall this was a strong performance for the team that could’ve been a blowout, but the Wizards are still the Wizards and blew the lead. Still, some encouraging signs from the new guys.
W @ CHI 134-125 (2/9)
The timing of this game was not lost on anyone in the entire NBA. The Wizards saw Otto Porter in Bulls red and black for the first of three times this season. Meanwhile Portis and Parker got to play against the team that they were employed by only a week ago, it was a little awkward and a lot of fun.
Otto would get some measure of revenge on the Wizards for trading him early on, as he would score or assist on Chicago’s first ten points, however 83 seconds later the game was tied again. The Wizards would start to pull away in the second quarter after a tight first thanks to Illinois native Chasson Randle who would bag 20 points before the night ended. Speaking of Illinois natives, Chicagoan Jabari Parker would explode out of halftime to keep the Wizards rolling, but Jeff Green got hurt and Tomas Satoransky would get into foul trouble causing the Wizards to cool down by the end of the 3rd quarter. The Bulls would make a small comeback in the 4th, but Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis got hot again and finished the job.
As the last game was Bobby Portis’ night, this one goes to Jabari Parker and Chasson Randle. The two both got twenty points in their home state and played key roles in sealing the deal. Bobby Portis recorded his first double-double as a Wizard with 10 points and 12 rebounds, Trevor Ariza was efficient with 19 points going 8-12 shooting, but once again Bradley Beal led the charge with 31 points good for 61% from the field.
L @ DET 121-112 (2/11)
This is the type of loss that kills seasons. The Washington Wizards came into this match riding a two game high following an insertion of fresh talent at the trade deadline, they were facing one of the teams they need to jump in the standings in order to make a playoff push, you already know how this one ends.
Even in the modern NBA, it’s hard to win when you can’t get a foothold in the paint, the Wizards were decimated down low by the Pistons all-star frontcourt. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond were in control from the jump, 22 of the Pistons first 27 points were inside the paint. Washington would attempt to make up the interior talent gap by spacing the floor, which would have some mild success, but not nearly enough as Griffin and Drummond would combine for 19 points in the first quarter. The Wizards new bench unit would shine in the 2nd quarter, Jordan McRae and Bobby Portis in particular would stand out with 10 and 24 points respectively. In the 2nd half Washington got hammered on the glass which would prove to be the difference in the game as the Wizards comeback effort in the 4th fell well short.
I already mentioned Portis and McRae, on the starters end of things Trevor Ariza would have a game with 23 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds. Bradley Beal would register a wasted double-double featuring 32 points and 10 assists. Andre Drummond of the Pistons was dominate as he recorded 32 points of his own with 17 rebounds.