Nets 111 Wizards 106 (ot)
October 8, 2013
Verizon Center, Washington DC
Leading scorers: (BKN) Taylor 16, Teletovic 15, Lopez 15
(WAS) Nene 19, Wall 16, Seraphin/Rice 13
NBATV blacked out the game locally but if you managed to bootleg the game off some pop-up infested streaming site, then you got at least a glimpse of some offensive aptitude. John Wall and Bradley Beal looked fluid early on, knocking a few jumpers down and efficiently running screen and rolls. Wall slashed to the rim several times, unstoppably zipping through defenders and getting the ball up per usual. Nene also looked as good as we’ve seen him as a Wizard, making the most of his 22 minutes, dropping 19 on 8 of 11 shooting.
The first unit as a whole held ground for most of the opening quarter, sans #TradeBlockTrevor Ariza. I’m not quite sure at all why Ariza was even in the starting lineup over Martell Webster, but here’s to the hope that that’s the last time Wittman allows it. Ariza struggled for most of the night, tallying up as many turnovers as points (3), and just simply looked like he was still in beach chair margarita mode.
The game provided several glaring issues. For one, the second unit was downright awful towards the end of the 1st quarter going into the 2nd. With both Wall and Beal on the bench, the Wizards accumulated very little offense with Eric Maynor and Garrett Temple in the back court, losing their 1st quarter lead and trailing by as many as 9 before halftime.
Another area of concern going into last night’s game was how the front court would fare without Emeka Okafor and 53 minutes later, we were still concerned. Kevin Seraphin checked in midway through the first to relieve Nene, and then subsequently relieved Andray Blatche of some boo birds after Blatche swatted Kevin’s first shot attempt. A few plays later Seraphin turned it over, his first of four turnovers, which led to an easy transition basket. Although Seraphin ultimately finished with a pretty solid statline — 13 points on 50 percent shooting and 7 boards — he and Jan Vesely didn’t come out of this game giving us much hope that the front court will pick up the slack left with Okafor’s injury.
Seraphin’s turnovers, combined with Jan’s inability to establish himself and attack the rim only further proved Washington’s front court dilemma heading into the season. Despite Jan’s 12 boards, it still “didn’t impress” Randy Wittman, and it’s clear why. With the Nets fouling their way into the penalty just five minutes into the opening period, Vesely still couldn’t manage a single field goal OR free throw attempt, a statline he went into halftime with — along with four fouls. During the offseason, Vesely charmed us with what seemed to be improved footwork, awareness and assertiveness during the Vegas Summer League and EuroBasket. But rarely any of that was on display last night and that’s a problem.
Although Nene had a solid output, it’s just glaringly obvious how much this offense relies on the facilitation of Wall. He continued to look more natural and confident taking the midrange jumper and did his usual fine job of finding his guys for high percentage shots. The absence of Deron Williams fared well for John as well, as we saw him struggle against more prominent point guards last season. Wall finished with 16 points and 8 dimes.
LVP: Trevor Ariza – 3 pts, 2 ast, 3 reb, 3 TO
Again, the decision to start Ariza was a questionable one and hopefully just experimental. We’ve seen Ariza at some of his finer moments in DC, but not last night. With just three points, all of them from the free throw line, Ariza struggled to find his ground and couldn’t remain focused. Ariza thrives much more coming off the bench playing against second units, something we noticed last season and last night proved it again. It’ll be interesting to see how Wittman adjusts his gameplan with Ariza for the next game.
Key stat of the game: 2/18 (11.1 pct) 3-PT shooting
Although the 23 turnovers were a shit ton and certainly helped pave the way for the Nets win, the Wizards managed to get 24 turnovers out of Brooklyn as well, which kind of cancels it all out. However, the Wizards are looking to be more of a threat from downtown as they rightfully should. With a top 5 3-point shooter in Martell Webster — who hit the only two 3’s of the night — along with Bradley Beal and Al Harrington, the Wizards have the weaponry to be destructive from beyond the arc but the ball was drifty from that range last night. Harrington and Beal were 0-3 each and Rice missed four more. The Wizards were in the top 10 in 3-point percentage last season, so I anticipate an improvement there as the team gradually gets into full groove.
Tweet of the night:
It’s wheels up to Rio for the Wizards as they head over to play the first NBA game ever in Brazil against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. A returning Derrick Rose will be matching up against John Wall so that’ll definitely be interesting to watch. The Bulls are obviously a strong defensive team which may not bode so well for the Wizards if their second unit is as useless as it was last night. It’s imperative for Wittman to find a solution, perhaps maybe shuffling Wall or Beal with some of the bench players to keep some steady offensive flow.