December 7, 2015 – American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Focus word: quickly.
Describing the Wizards as ‘quick’ applies in more than just one frame of reference. In literal terms, the Wizards are obviously fast, ranking 4th in the league in number of possessions per game. This was the primary reason why the Wizards walked away winners last night in Miami. Within the flow of the game, the Wizards were quick to bounce back against any shift in momentum created by the Heat by relentlessly pacing the ball back up court before the Heat sound crew could even press play on the YouTube video of fake crowd noise. Aside from a really good mid-3rd quarter run where Dywane Wade teleported back to 2006, the Wizards were able to weather the Heat wave all night long.
When Wizards missed shots, guys on the interior were quick to recover them for second chances. Otto Porter had 3 offensive rebounds, Jared Dudley had 2 and Ryan Hollins somehow got 4. The Wizards as a team grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, part of the reason why the Heat attempted 23 less shots. Saving possessions and allowing less of them for the Heat was critical considering that with the shots the Heat did manage to get up, they made 60 percent of them. Yes, the Wizards beat a team that shot 60 percent from the field by 11 points. Chew on that, son.
Finally, and most importantly, when assessing the Wizards as a resilient team, it’s their quickness to turn around their loss at home to the Mavs by overcoming the rigor of the tail end of a back to back on the road against the East’s top team which also happens to have a really good home record. It’s the Wizards resilient enough to overcome the utter shittiness that is Ryan Hollins on defense. It’s John Wall being resilient enough to act like he doesn’t even have a knee cap.
What to remember about this game:
Gary Neal and the bench mob: Can we open and shut the NBA ballot for 6th Man this year? Can we just hand that trophy with whoever’s body is sculpted on it to Gary Neal and be done with it? (No seriously, who is that on the trophy?) Gary Neal will always seem to be an understated talent on this team simply because no one ever chooses to start a basketball conversation with “So Gary Neal last night..” ‘Tis true, but also ’tis sad because Neal is auto-replenishing PayPal account coming off the Wizards bench, just consistently providing instant offense. He scored 21 points on 9-12 shooting including three 3’s in 34 minutes. Ramon Sessions added 12. The Wizards’ bench as a whole outscored Miami’s 38-16.
The Wizards first half defense: Going into this game, I was super anxious to see how this Wizards depleted roster playing random combinations of small lineups would fare against Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh, but specifically to see how Ryan Hollins was going to matchup against Whiteside. UPDATE: HE DIDN’T. The Wizards played swell defense in all areas that did not involve Hollins, who was repeatedly pried away from his man, leaving Whiteside free for multiple baskets. One other shot by Whiteside was a jumper off the glass in Hollins’ face. Whiteside scored 8 points on 4-4 shooting. The rest of the Heat in the 1st quarter went 5-13.
As for the rest of the Wizards defenders, for much of the first quarter and a half they were quick. They were nimble. They were alert. They promptly switched. They swiftly rotated. They wrecked havoc. They drew offensive fouls, caused a 3 second violation, and forced a few turnovers. But they would eventually let up. After taking a 40-26 lead, Wade went full vintage and led the Heat on an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to 6. The box score will tell a very odd story of this game, particularly the first half where the Heat shot 60 percent from the field yet trailed by 5. That’s because they put up 10 less shots than the Wizards.
Is Otto getting into form? Averaging just under 6 rebounds a night, Otto put up his second double-double in as many nights, raking 14 rebounds to go with his 13 points. He had EIGHT rebounds in the 1st quarter alone. Porter’s hustle is invaluable. Whether the stat sheet shows it or not (and it usually does), his sharp instincts perpetually leave him in position to make a play and last night, he was simply everywhere. Adding to his double-double, Porter blocked a shot, had a steal, 3 assists, and your girlfriend’s phone number.
#WizHeat in a tweet..
John Wall and Gary Neal might be the best backcourt in the league
— Michael Sykes, II (@MikeDSykes) December 8, 2015
The Game’s Top Performer:
John Wall – 26 points, 7 assists, 7-7 FT, no knee caps needed
Is this good? pic.twitter.com/rLRK97FhVn
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) December 8, 2015