I got some good news and some bad news. The good news is the Wizards finally got their first win of the season on Friday night with a 95-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
The bad news is since then, Washington has dropped two straight and there’s still a ton of issues that need to be addressed, and need to quickly.
The Wizards, as we’ve seen thus far in the first six games look competitive in the first three quarters. However in the fourth quarter in each of these games, the Wizards have been outscored 141-109. The Wizards need a much better defensive presence and Bradley Beal talked about that after Saturday’s loss in Orlando.
“The biggest thing we can control is our defense,” said Beal. “That’s all about effort and just wanting to play. I think coach (Brooks) is pretty fed up with the way we’re playing and I think he’s going to start playing guys that are gonna show up.”
The Wizards fell to the Magic on Saturday night and they missed John Wall big time. Scott Brooks didn’t put Wall in the lineup as part of his rehabilitation process to not play in the second game of a back-to-back.
Another issue for the Wizards, and probably their most glaring one, has been their bench. In the NBA rankings, they are dead last in points (22.8), rebounds (9.8), and assists (3.2) while averaging just 14.2 minutes a night. Part of the problem is the absence of Ian Mahinmi, who is still recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee.
Things went from bad to worse on Monday night in a 114-106 loss to the Rockets in DC. There was one positive however as John Wall became the franchise’s all-time assists leader with 3,287 in his career, passing Bullets great Wes Unseld. However near the end of the game, he bumped into official Marc Davis and got his second technical foul of the game after he lashed out some choice words. Wall got ejected. As of this writing, there is still no word from the league on whether or not Wall will face a suspension.
Beal’s game has also been on-and-off having only scored 20+ points twice. He once again chimed in after their loss to the Rockets in their most recent game. He told Candace Buckner of the Washington Post: “We got to get our toughness back, our identity back. We’re playing with no toughness, no swag.”
For the Wizards to get their swag back, they need Beal to step up more than ever. They would also need the bench to step it up as best as they can before Mahinmi returns to action. Otto Porter also needs to continue doing what he’s doing this season. He put up 20 points and eight rebounds in the loss and if he keeps producing solid numbers, it could help take the pressure off Beal and Marcin Gortat. Scott Brooks should also give Tomas Satoransky more minutes off the bench. He killed it on Saturday in his most minutes of action (32 minutes) and finished with eight points, three assists, three rebounds and one steal. If the Wizards do these things, they could begin to get their swag back and they could start that process with a home win tonight over the Celtics.