The Washington Wizards started their recent road trip with a win in Utah, a character win. Then, things got progressively worse as the opponents got tougher. If the trend continues, they might be in trouble tonight heading into their matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
The Wizards lost to the Chris Paul led Clippers and followed it up with a stinker against the Sacramento Kings, yes those same 23 win Sacramento Kings. Washington came into their building with next to no intensity on the defensive end and the Kings made them pay for it, Sacramento does have a few players that can fill it up and Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins did their part. The issue was that everyone or the ‘others’ on the Kings got involved, all five starters finished with double-digits in the scoring column and that’s just unacceptable if you’re Washington.
The Wizards are in the middle of a playoff race, the currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. A win yesterday coupled with a Chicago loss would have helped them close that two game lead the Bulls currently have on them at fourth place. Instead, the Wizards remain the full two games back of the Bulls.
Washington has had two constant issues all season long, it wasn’t as bad in the first half of the year when they got off to a great start. Since the All-Star break, Washington has had far too many poor performances on the defensive end of the floor. They also have an issue with turning the ball over, but that wasn’t the biggest problem yesterday against the Kings as both teams turned the ball over 16 times a piece.
It came down to their inability to want to play defense, that lack of defensive intensity was evident as the Kings shot 50% from the floor and 47% from beyond the arc. Both of which shouldn’t happen when one team is in the playoff hunt and the other is playing for next season. A great example is when Rudy Gay (26 points) crossed over Rasual Butler and there was next to no help as he threw down a dunk that got him on this morning’s Top 10 on ESPN.
Kevin Seraphin was left in a very poor position, what made it worse was that neither Drew Gooden or Bradley Beal dropped down to help. Also, as a big, why are you putting your self in that position? There was no scenario in which Seraphin being that far away from the basket was going to help him defend a small forward.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Wizards as tonight as the visit the best team in the NBA tonight, the Warriors definitely aren’t the Kings. They have to be looking at the film from the Kings-Wizards game and licking their chops. Washington can’t afford another listless effort on the defensive end or the Warriors will embarrass them.
Keys to Victory
- Dig in and play defense from start to finish
- Take care of the ball, limit turnovers as the last thing any team wants to do is give Steph Curry the ball for extra possessions
- Spacing, keep that in mind all game. This is another area in wish the Wizards tend to struggle, they will need the spacing to operate against one of the best defenses in the league
If the Wizards can do these things, namely the first key on the list, it will give them a chance to win. Sloppy and/or lackadaisical defense against the Warriors will get a team blown out quickly. There’s only 11 games left in the season and just two more against Western Conference teams, Washington has to round into form sooner than later. No team wants to go into the postseason on a bad note.