The little things. The failure to do so many of the little things throughout the course of an NBA game can catch up to a team and be their downfall. Kelly Olynk played spoiler to the Wizards once again, corralling an errant shot by Dwayne Wade and putting it back in with 0.2 left in regulation to give Miami the 113-112 win in Washington’s home season opener. It wasn’t the best of night’s for Washington, but they had the chance to win the game. An issue that had been consistent all game long was their undoing, the multiple players in foul trouble certainly didn’t help, but putting a body on a body when it’s time to box out is something that is in their control.
John Wall definitely emptied the tank in this one, his activity on both ends of the court stood out. He finished with 26 points, 9 assists, and 3 blocks. Beal dealt with foul trouble all night, but a 10 point third quarter helped him finish with 20 points and Jeff Green added 17. Miami was led Josh Richardson’s game high 28 points, Rodney McGruder and Derrick Jones Jr chipped in with 20 and 17 respectively.
The Wizards did play solid defense in stretches, but a possession on defense isn’t complete until they get the rebound. That was the problem all night long. Miami dominated Washington on the glass 55-40, the first thing that comes to mind is maybe Hassan Whiteside had a big night with Dwight Howard not playing. That wasn’t the case, Whiteside pulled down just 10 of those 55 rebounds. Miami’s wings and guards did a great job of crashing the glass on both ends. Four different players that aren’t bigs had at least four rebounds, Dwayne Wade and McGruder pulled down eight a piece.
Miami is known for playing this way, the physical defense and with high energy and effort. Washington’s trying to get there and there were stretches in which their defense was phenomenal. Still, rebounding like defense is an effort issue and the Wizards were certainly lacking in that area.
Washington doesn’t have much time to dwell on this loss and nor should they, they host Toronto on Saturday night at Capital One. The same thing applies, they have to finish off good defensive possessions with rebounds or it defeats every good thing they did prior to the shot going up.
Wall: It’s clear the work he put in on his body is paying off, even through a half that was evident. There were a couple of drives in the second half when he was not only the aggressor, but the bully. It looks like the game is starting to slow down for John a bit, he realizes he doesn’t have to run around at full speed on the offensive end. Mixing his speeds and it’s producing a different type of result. He was assertive and still came off the ball as needed. The biggest takeaway was his intensity on the defensive end, he was sitting low in his stance and sliding his feet. Getting around screens and especially in the second half, protecting the rim. A good start for him, but it’s about maintaining that intensity on the defensive end going forward.
Defense: The Wizards did a decent job of staying in front of their men for most of the night, the problem as cited earlier was at the end of defensive possessions. They didn’t box out nearly enough, which in turn wasted 20 to 23 seconds of sound defense. Their versatility was on display as they were able to switch at times with different lineups and not get exposed in the screen/roll like last season. Obviously very small sample size, they were also missing a rim protector. Howard didn’t play and until he’s in there, John may be the best option they have. While Wall seemed to keep that intensity on that end of the floor all night long, his teammates need to follow suit as the season progresses. They also have to be a bit more disciplined, some of the foul calls were a bit outrageous while some were just boneheaded decisions.
Richardson, Jones, McGruder: The trio of youngsters were in attack mode all night, they were a big reason as to why Miami stayed in the game. The three combined for 20 free throw attempts, drawing fouls when Washington was on a run and at times keeping them at bay. Jones was big in the first half with his aggressive driving to the rim, McGruder and Richardson mixed it up a bit more, but they were constantly attacking. They showed up in a big way as the trio of Dragic, Whiteside and Wade scored a combined 26 points.
Green & Rivers: The two vets made an immediate impact, providing Washington with sound decision makers that can plug holes in various different lineups. Rivers had 9 points to go along with Green’s 17, they turned the ball over just twice. As the second unit starts to gel, these two are integral pieces and it was nice to see them start to find their way and comfort level with this group. They were consistently themselves regardless of who they were on the floor with, just making the right play. Whether that meant cutting or screening and sometimes being assertive and going to get a bucket. Green’s typically better on the boards and that’s an area in which Washington may truly need him with their depth behind Howard, especially while he’s out.
Porter: This is a controversial subject for some as they feel it’s on others to make sure he gets the ball. There is some merit to that, but at the same token, Otto has to demand it. There were times in which he rolled to the basket or away from the play, sometimes taking himself out of said play. There was a stretch in the second half when he was the lone starter on the floor with four members of the second unit and he was a bit more aggressive. He has to be assertive not only with his shot selection when he gets the ball, but in demanding the ball as well. Again, just one game, but it will be something to monitor all season. Washington’s a different beast when he’s aggressive.