The Washington Wizards’ season finally starts Thursday evening against the Atlanta Hawks. We have two key match-ups in Marcin Gortat going up against former teammate Dwight Howard, and John Wall vs first yea starter Denis Schroder. Tip off starts at 7:30 and I hope you enjoy the upcoming season Wizards season.
First Half Recap:
In the back and fort the Atlanta Hawks were able to capitalize on the Wizards defense inability to finish defensive possessions. Dwight Howard in particular was able to collect 15(!)boards by himself, 7 of them offensive. The Hawks in general have dominated the boards 33-21, and were able to parlay 12 offensive rebounds into 15 second half points. So far the Atlanta front court has played excellently, combining for 25 points. Meanwhile we saw the Wizards pushing the pace frequently, relying on spacing to open the floor for Beal and John Wall to drive and dish. Their active hands have forced 11 turnovers, and have created numerous transition opportunities. Despite committing 3 fouls Bradley Beal was staying in attack mode in the half court looking for his shot or initiating some offense, showing off his improved playmaking. Markieff Morris also played a solid 1st dominating in the mid range with this feathery jump shot and playing strong positional defense. John Wall struggled to the tone 0f 1-9 but played hard on the other end, and making sure to remain the great playmaker he is.
Second Half Recap:
The Wizards did an outstanding job getting more physical and tough in the paint, not allowing the Dwight Howard to control the paint like in the first half. The Wizards continued to play active defense in spurts, that helped the offense as they continued their first half trend of attacking in transition. The bench was not able to keep it up this as they struggled heavily in the game, with few bright moments coming from Trey Burke and Andrew Nicholson. The Hawks took advantage of an inconsistent 4th quarter performance utilizing their superior length and shooting and making the Wizards backup guards uncomfortable and forcing turnovers .The back and forth game was busted open in the last 10 minutes as the Wizards starting to play sloppy turning the ball over and not getting back on defense. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Thabo Sefolosha both benefitted, as they got out in transition for 3 point buckets and thunderous dunks. Hawks ended up hitting 12 threes and they forced the Wizards into 19 turnovers. By the time Bradly Beal and John Wall checked back in the Hawks already had an insurmountable lead. At this point the team had body language and essentially gave up, in a game that was tight for so long turnovers and bad 3-point defense buried this promising franchise. The Wizards have to stay committed on the defensive end, remaining active and making sure they take advantage of their speed and athleticism. You have to finish defensive possession otherwise guys like Dwight Howard will manhandle the interior. Finally it is imperative that the bench not lay an egg and force head coach Scott Brooks to put players back in before he wants. In order to run an uptempo offense you have to have a bench that can replace that production of the starters and hold leads and maintain the defensive intensity and focus.
With the first game out of the way Scott Brooks and the Wizards have some things to work on and hammer home for the next game against the Grizzlies.