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Game Notebook 73, Wizards at Warriors: The Expected Bay Area Fatality

Warriors 102
Wizards 94

March 29, 2016 – Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

NBA Stats Box Score

As part of the Wizards’ uphill struggle for a position at the tail end of the Eastern conference playoff bracket, they needed to somehow survive a daunting road game in the East Bay against the 66-win Warriors.

Like every team that faces the Warriors at Oracle Arena, the Wizards were up against all-out and complete mayhem, created by the Warriors’ remarkably dangerous style of quick-triggering offense and their supplementing crowd that never ceases to be raucous. Before many of us even realized that NBATV was airing the opening tip-off of the game because TNT was still broadcasting the final minutes of Rockets-Cavs, Steph Curry had already drained the opening 3-point shot.

The Warriors started the game with their normal style of unrelenting attacks, racing and pacing up and down the court playing hot potato with the basketball before a quick launch of the ball at the basket. It’s their exact method to intimidate visiting opponents and their exact method to not even spare them a chance. The Wizards, though, weren’t going to be bullied, at least not for most of three quarters of the game. While the Warriors tried galloping in circles around the Wizards with swift ball movement and timely jump shots, the Wizards kept pace, contested shots and counterattacked with transition buckets of their own:

Our mindsets were clear: every moment the Wizards aren’t getting blown out is a reason for hope.

Interestingly, the Wizards didn’t totally care for maintaining a high pace for a large portion of the game. They ran a number of plays for Nene in the post, something the Warriors were able to pounce on and capitalize. Still, the Wizards were able to grant Nene a whopping USG 40% USG in 17 minutes of play. He had 5 turnovers during that time. I’m not sure if this was the gameplan that Bradley Beal said the team was “excited” about during a pregame interview, or if making Nene the go-to option on offense was just a weird in-game adjustment.

The Wizards were able to mount a 9-point lead late in the 2nd quarter, and it suddenly seemed like the impending sleep deprivation the late game was going to cause was going to be all worth it. After the Warriors regained a 3-point lead at halftime by way of a 1st half-ending 12-0 run, we were ready for bed.

With every Wizards push, the Warriors had a counter. Like the mere flip of a switch, the Warriors would ignite themselves to go on a rapid memory-erasing run, wiping out any recollection of anything positive the Wizards had done just a few moments before.

The 3rd quarter featured more of the same tug and pull, with the Warriors trying to pry themselves away from the Wizards’ threatening grasp and the Wizards not letting go. Early in the quarter, an 8-point Warriors lead was quickly trimmed to 1. Later in the quarter, the Warriors’ first double-digit lead was quickly trimmed to 2. Both of these Wizards runs were set off by a Markieff Morris 3-pointer. He had three for the quarter.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the 4th quarter other than that we all should have known what was coming. The Warriors led by 7 going into the 4th. They led by 11 one minute in, and by 14 at the 9:30 mark. Their biggest lead of the quarter was 19.

And how about some irony: against the Lakers, the Wizards were forced to reinsert Wall and Gortat back into the game midway through the 4th as their 20 point lead dwindled to 15. Of course, the Wizards just can’t trust themselves enough to let their reserves duke it out to the end. We’ve actually seen the Wizards lose these types of games. Against the Warriors, it was the Wizards’ second unit that fought to trim a 14 point deficit to 6 with just under a minute remaining, forcing Steve Kerr to reinsert Curry and Barnes into the game to close out. The Warriors won by 8.

With this latest loss, the timer on the Wizards’ playoff Saw trap continues to rapidly wind down to a gruesome fatality.


The Game’s Top Performer

Steph Curry

There is no such thing as closing out on Steph Curry. His lightning speed release and meticulous accuracy easily make him the toughest cover in the league. Now, the Wizards weren’t totally overwhelmed with defending Steph. They put some solid ball pressure on him, got in his face, John Wall rocked him with a block/foul, and Steph did miss a few open shots, but he still managed to shoot 6-for-8 from 3 and had 26 points. He also had 5 steals on defense.


A forgettable night for..

Nene

Again, I’m really not sure how the Randy Wittman or any member of the Washington Wizards coaching staff felt like Nene (formerly the surname Hilario) was going to make enough of an impact on offense to counter one of the most dynamic offenses the NBA and its fans has ever seen. I really and truly don’t. Nene touched the ball more than any other Wizards player and they only got 10 points and 5 turnovers out of it. Oh, and he also missed 4 of 6 free throw attempts.


Other Notables:

Bradley Beal had an okay game and wasn’t nearly as effective as he needed to be to give the Wizards a better chance. He finished with 17 points but missed 5 of 6 three-pointers, an area where the Wizards could have used him the most.

This play by Beal, however, was SWEET:

Markieff Morris continues to be solid with 15 and 8 last night. His three 3rd quarter 3’s were all very timely, as each one helped trip up the Warriors from scampering away with an extended lead.

And yes, now, with the Wizards again losing and still 3.5 games behind the 8 seed, their playoff math just turned into abstract algebra.

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