The Washington Wizards have a couple days off to regroup after their home opener that was taken over by one Carmelo Anthony. Coming into the game, Melo had been struggling to find his shot. Guess all he needed was a mix of bad defense a bit of motivation and Jared Dudley provided that over the summer with a few reckless comments on the topic of if Anthony was “overrated” or not. Here’s what I learned from Washington’s first loss of the season.
1.Walls defensive intensity. The Wizards floor general has been one of the few players that hasn’t allowed the new pace on the offensive end to affect his defensive performance. On the year, Wall has seven blocks and seven steals in just three games this season. He’s starting to become a very good shot blocker, while he’s not on Dwyane Wade’s level in that area, he’s one of the best on the team at doing so.
2. Pace affecting their defense? While it SHOULDN’T be an excuse, Washington is struggling mightily on the defensive end. It’s very possible to play with a high pace on offense and still have a solid if not great defense. The two examples that come to mind are the Nash led Phoenix Suns and the reigning champs of the league in the Golden State Warriors. Curry and company led the league in both offense and defense, Washington has to find a way for their defense to catch up to their new paced offense.
3. Watch your mouth. Simple, right? Well Jared Dudley found that out the hard way as he spent a ton of time on Anthony during the game. Porter was just too slight to deal with the physicality of Melo, which meant the heavier Dudley had to step in. Some of the most difficult shots of Melo’s night were hit on or in the face of Dudley. Anthony finished with 37 points on 11-for-18 shooting in 36 minutes. Lesson learned.
4 Three by three. Through three games this season, it appears that Washington has learned that the ability to hit the long ball keeps you in games. The Wizards have had to rally in all three of their contests to start the year, the only one they failed to do so was against New York. As a team they are shooting 35% from beyond the arc.
5.Beal’s a diff cat. This isn’t the same shy and somewhat bashful guard Washington drafted out of the University of Florida. It’s easy to say the “new” Bradley Beal that Wizards fans see is due to it being a contract year. I don’t buy it, it’s the Paul Pierce effect. Beal’s out of his shell, his quote after the win in Milwaukee was just a tiny example of how this kid thinks. He now accepts his role as lead scorer on this team and he and Wall’s partnership has evolved to a whole new level in him doing so. Opposing defenses now have to deal with two aggressive lead guards versus one, the maturation of Beal is just beginning.