The Wall-Beal-Porter Era couldn’t live up its own expectations

From the moment John WallBradley Beal, and Otto Porter were put together on the Wizards, there was an expectation the core could reach the Eastern Conference Finals. In 2017, they got within 15 minutes of reaching it. They were leading Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with under 3 minutes left in the third quarter when everything fell apart. Washington’s bench crumbled, Kelly Olynyk caught fire, and the Wizards’ starters ran out of gas.

There were still reasons to be optimistic after that crushing loss. Wall and Beal had turned in their best seasons to date, and the front office made it clear that keeping the group together was a priority. The Wizards’ Big 3 was ready to carry the mantle as the most promising professional D.C. sports team and write their chapter in the D.C. sports history books. Little did we know the core would dissolve less than two years later having got no closer than they did on May 5, 2017.

Blame it on the injuries, a lack of leadership, missteps from the front office — the list goes on and on. But, rather than building on the momentum of Washington’s best season in 40 years, they took a major step back last season, followed by an even bigger step back this season. Things were so bad between the team’s underperformance and John Wall’s Achilles injury that the Wizards traded Otto Porter in a luxury-tax dodging move, just days after assuring him they’d keep him through the trade deadline.

With the Wall-Beal-Porter era now abruptly over, how will we look back at this five-year window once the dust settles? It’s tricky.

The Wizards burst onto the scene a year early. The upstart backcourt of Wall and Beal, together with proven veterans sprinkled in at key spots, slid into the 5-seed in 2014. After a surprising 4-1 series win over the heavily favored Chicago Bulls, they faced the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. Washington, a significant underdog was playing with house money. They already overachieved in winning a first-round series when many thought just making the playoffs would be a success. Their two victories against the Pacers were the cherry on top of a pleasantly surprising season.

The team’s bright future lured free agent Paul Pierce to D.C. on a one-year deal that summer. His arrival gave the team a legitimacy it had lacked. Their first-round sweep of the Raptors in 2015 followed with a back-and-forth series against the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks solidified the Wizards as a team that would be a factor in the Eastern Conference for years to come.

The NBA was on notice — Washington was a legitimate threat in the East. However, in the Wizards’ minds, they already viewed themselves as part of the club. They were confident things would have ended differently if John Wall didn’t break his wrist in that series, and the team spent the rest of the summer trying to tell everyone about it before they could prove it. It was the summer Wall and Beal talked about being the “best backcourt in the NBA.” The Wizards were no longer the overlooked underdogs, they were the team that had to go out and back up their boasting to the league.

With Paul Pierce gone, the Wizards brought in Jared Dudley to be a positive locker room presence even though Wall and Beal felt they were ready to lead. Inconsistencies, infighting, and injuries marred the 2015-16 season and provided a dose of reality for a team that thought it had arrived.

After changing their coaching staff, and overcoming a 2-8 start to the 2016-17 season, it looked like Washington was back on its way to reasserting itself as a legitimate Eastern Conference contender. They won 49 games, John Wall turned in an All-NBA season, and Bradley Beal had a legitimate case to make the All-Star game that year.

Even after the tough Game 7 loss to Boston, the Wizards looked like they were turning a corner. They let their play do the talking (for the most part) and played with an edge they lacked the season before. That is, until after Washington was bounced from the playoffs, when Bradley Beal said “Cleveland didn’t want to see us.”

Once again, the Wizards grew tired of being the underdog and went back to trying to prove they could be more than what they had shown — the underlying theme of the era.

The Wizards coasted through the 2017-18 season losing countless games to losing teams, only to come back with wins against some of the league’s best. It was a season filled with repetitive quotes like “We didn’t bring enough energy”, “We took this team for granted”, and “Guys were stat-hunting.” Washington ended up with the 8-seed and date with the Toronto Raptors. After losing the series 4-2, Markieff Morris said: “Sometimes the better teams don’t win.”

They still didn’t learn.

The 2018-19 campaign has been a season from hell. The exciting underdog team from 2014 is a distant memory, and the front office is in panic mode hoping that they can clean up past mistakes and salvage their future with Wall in a walking boot and Porter in a Bulls uniform. The team that once dreamed of going toe-to-toe with LeBron in the Eastern Conference Finals is now patting themselves on the back after two straight wins against lottery-bound teams to keep their flimsy playoff hopes alive.

This trio will go down as a core that collectively never fulfilled its potential. There are many reasons this big three never made it past the second round of the playoffs, including injuries. But ultimately, it was delusion from both the team and the front office that contributed most to Washington’s shortcomings. They convinced themselves they were close and didn‘t need to make major changes, when the reality is, they were much further away.

Back in 2013, things looked so bright for the future. But now, as the era ends, the only thing that seems clear is that there will be a murky path ahead for the next era of Wizards basketball.

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Appreciating Bradley Beal’s underappreciated season

No one expected the Wizards’ season to go like this. Optimists thought this team was one puzzle piece away from catapulting themselves back into the top of the Eastern Conference. Pessimists thought even if things didn’t click, this team had too much talent and would be in playoff contention even if it was at a lower seed.

In a season that alternates between going off the rails and powering through the NBA’s best teams, the only consistent has been inconsistency. Even with all the turmoil in D.C. and uncertainty about if the Wizards will be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, Bradley Beal is quietly turning in the best season of his career to date.

He got off to a slow start, like the rest of the team. He struggled on defense and only connected on 31.5 percent of this three-point attempts in November. It led to rumblings from the Wizards faithful about whether he had lost his shooting touch.

Things changed for Beal once the calendar flipped to December. As John Wall bounced in and out of the lineup, Beal‘s usage jumped from 23.9 percent to 28.6 percent. As his scoring increased, he also showed improvement as a facilitator, averaging nearly one full assist more in December than he did in November.

Beal has rounded out his game to where he’s a legitimate threat on all points of the court — and he’s showing it nightly. Beal has scored at least 20 points in all but two games since the start of December. He‘s had seven 30-point games and two 40-point games in that span. Defenses have zeroed in on Beal even more in the last eight games after Wall went down for good, but he has responded by averaging 27.8 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game while guiding Washington to a 5-3 record.

Brad is putting up the best numbers of his career and is logging a boatload of minutes, but his outstanding season is going unrecognized on a national level since the Wizards aren’t in the playoff hunt. As we know, the NBA All-Star Game is a popularity contest and that couldn’t be any more clear as guys like Dwyane WadeZach LaVineJeremy Lin, and Goran Dragic have more votes than Beal after the second round of the fan balloting.

As it stands, the Wizards are in the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the eighth seed. It’s anyone’s guess whether the front office will make another desperation trade for a playoff push, or if Washington will be sellers come the trade deadline. But through all the noise and chaos in a season that has felt more like four seasons, Bradley Beal is turning in the best year of his career and is making a case for why he’s the best shooting guard in the league.

It’s time to grasp how special this season has been for Beal as otherwise, it will probably go unnoticed amidst the rest of the chaos around surrounding the franchise.

Wizards vs. Raptors final score: Bradley Beal’s 43-point triple-double not enough in 140-138 double-overtime loss to Toronto

The Toronto Raptors overcame Bradley Beal’s stellar play on Sunday afternoon to take down the Wizards, 140-138 in a double-overtime thriller. Beal logged his second triple-double of his career with 43 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds and Trevor Ariza nearly had a triple-double of his own with 23 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds but the Wizards just had no answer for Kawhi Leonard (41 points and 11 rebounds) or Pascal Siakam (24 points and 19 rebounds).

The Raptors are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and the Wizards found that out quickly as they missed their first five shots and trailed by double-digits before the National Anthem was finished. Toronto held the Wizards to just 34 percent shooting in the first quarter and led 36-21 after one as it looked like this one was heading towards a blowout.

That Toronto lead ballooned to 23, 51-28 early in the second quarter and you could feel the bleak and somber mood of the stadium ooze through the television screen. The Wizards did find their footing late in the half on the heels of a 12-2 run and somehow were in striking distance but trailed 61-50 at halftime.

The Wizards took their best jab at the Raptors but Toronto always answered and was able to keep the lead at double-digits throughout the third quarter.

And that’s when the fun began.

After playing some pretty poor defense for most of the game, Washington clamped down defensively and started getting some stops early in the fourth quarter. The Wizards turned those stops into transition baskets which trimmed the deficit to single digits.

After a slow start, Bradley Beal got hot enough to melt most of the snow around Capital One Arena in the fourth quarter. He hit back to back three-pointers to trim the deficit to four, 116-112 late in the period.

His biggest basket of the night came in the final moments as Porter missed a three-pointer but Satoransky was there to kick the ball out to Beal for three and tie the game at 124.

The Wizards had a shot to win this one in regulation but Jeff Green’s attempt on the final possession clanked off the back of the rim.

The teams went back and forth in the overtime periods as both teams clamped down and made every shot difficult. With the Wizards trailing by two and just seconds to play in the first overtime period, Beal curled off a screen and hit a floater through contact in the lane to tie the game at 131 and force a second overtime.

Tomas Satoransky broke the scoring seal at the 3:20 mark with a floater in the lane to give Washington their first lead of the day, 133-131. After two free-throws from Lowry, Beal and Bryant ran the two-man game to perfection resulting in a short jumper for Bryant to put Washington back out in front.

But every time the Wizards punched, Toronto punched back. Leonard drove to the lane and got stripped only to recover the loose ball and find Serge Ibaka for a three-pointer to put the Raptors back up 139-138. Washington had one final chance to win this one. Bradley Beal took the inbounds pass and drove baseline finding Jeff Green who looked like he was open for a split second. Green pump-faked and found Porter on the wing for a good look at a three but it too, clanked off the back iron.

That would be it as Toronto gathered the loose ball and iced the game at the free throw line to snap Washington’s win streak and negate one of Bradley Beal’s best performances of the season.

Bradley Beal’s All-Star campaign keeps humming along

Bradley Beal struggled mightily to start this one. Beal scored just 10 points in the first half and was just 4-of-17 from the field into the third quarter. But everything flipped for Brad in the fourth quarter.

After a baseline layup to start the period, Beal knocked down back-to-back three-pointers in as many possessions trimming the Raptors lead to four, 116-112. After that forgettable start, Beal made nine of his next ten shots to give the Wizards a fighting chance. Then, with the Wizards down three and under one minute to play, Otto Porter air-balled a three-pointer but Sato was there for the rebound and kicked it to Brad for a three-pointer that tied the game and got Beal up to 40 points.

Not only was Beal scoring the basketball, but he was also getting others involved. He has developed a nice chemistry with Thomas Bryant over the past few games and you could tell as the Wizards went to the pick-and-roll and two-man game for several key baskets in the closing minutes.

His work on the boards was the cherry on top for Beal who notched the second triple-double of his career with 43 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds.

At this point, it would be borderline criminal if Brad doesn’t get an invite to Charlotte for the All-Star Game.

Otto Porter provides a spark off the Wizards bench in the first half

Chalk it up to the early start, the snow, the swarming defense from Toronto or all of the above because the Wizards came out lifeless in this one. Washington fell down double digits in this one and trailed 29-10 midway through the first quarter.

But when Otto Porter checked in, things changed for the Wizards. He started off hot, connecting on his first two baskets of the game and 3-of-4 overall sparking a 9-2 run as it was a major struggle for every Washington basket in the first quarter to that point.

In the second period, Porter got things started with a three from the wing in transition but more importantly, was making all of the hustle plays defensively. He had very active hands in the second period forcing Toronto into a couple of turnovers which provided a jolt on that end of the floor as Washington was able to slowly cut away at the lead.

Porter’s play in the first half was extremely important and came at a crucial time as this one was on the verge of getting out of hand.

A look back and a look ahead

The Wizards finished off this brutal six-game stretch with a 3-3 record. That’s good news if you’re hoping the Wizards make a playoff push as they showed that they can compete with some of the NBA’s best but bad news if you want the Wizards to start tanking for a better pick.

Washington now heads to London for a ‘home game’ against the New York Knicks on Thursday afternoon.

Wizards run out of gas, fall to Pacers 105-89

Seven Pacers players score in double-figures led by Myles Turner with 18 points as Indiana downed a tired Washington squad, 105-89 on Sunday.

Only four Wizards players cracked double-figures in the game, led by Markieff Morris with 16 off the bench, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough as this one had ‘schedule loss’ written all over it after their thrilling triple overtime win over the Suns on Saturday evening.

The Wizards played about as well as one would hope to start this game. Even though the Wizards turned the ball over six times in the opening period and shot just 8-for-18 from the field, they found themselves down just two points one quarter.

After a John Wall turnover, it looked like the Pacers might open the floodgates up in this one as the ball found it’s way to Bojan Bogdanovic in the corner for a three-pointer giving Indiana a 44-32 lead. But Washington had an answer. Back-to-back threes from Morris and Jeff Green trimmed the Pacers lead to six and the Wizards were able to get as close as three after Thomas Bryant converted an and-one opportunity.

Indiana would counter with a 7-0 run of their own to take a 53-43 lead into halftime.

You usually don’t see fatigue in teams on the second half of a back-to-back until the second half — and that was the case for Washington. After hanging around, the Pacers ripped off a 16-1 extended run to open the game up 76-57 in the third quarter.

The deficit would be too much to overcome as Scott Brooks emptied the bench for the entire fourth quarter to close this one out as Washington was held to a season-low 89 points in the loss.

Takeaways

Wizards fall apart in the third quarter

The Wizards did a good job hanging around in this one during the first half, which was really all you could ask for from a team playing the second half of a back-to-back in less than 24 hours. Once the adrenaline wore off and the dead legs kicked in, Washington’s chance of sneaking away with a victory went out the window.

Washington was only able to muster 18 points in the third quarter as they were outscored 31-18 in the period.

However, the highlight of the period came on a basket that didn’t count. Bradley Beal stole the ball from a Pacers player, passed it off to Trevor Ariza who found a streaking Green for a monstrous dunk over Victor Oladipo.

This basket was waived off due to an offensive foul, but that doesn’t take away from how spectacular this dunk was.

Turnovers haunt the Wizards

The Wizards were in the giving spirit as they coughed the ball up 22 times, equaling the number they gave up the night before. John Wall was the main culprit with seven turnovers on the evening, including six in the first half.

No turnover is good, however, the ones the Wizards committed tonight would rank lowest on the totem pole. Too many times, guys would try to thread the needle after driving into a crowded lane or they’d turn it over attempting to save a loose ball heading out of bounds only to lead to transition opportunities for the Pacers.

The first half would have been a whole lot closer however the Wizards committed 13 turnovers leading to 20 Indiana points. Nine second-half turnovers added insult to injury as you aren’t going to win many games when committing 22 turnovers.

Washington gets nothing from their backcourt

Bradley Beal played over 50 minutes last night and you could tell. He looked gassed from the get-go and as a result, was only able to muster up seven points on 2-for-11 shooting in just 23 minutes of action.

John Wall on the other hand, was playing like a guy on the second half of a back-to-back, except he didn’t play last night due to flu-like symptoms that seemed to still be affecting his play. His numbers were equally as bad as he also only scored seven points and turned the ball over seven times.

The Wizards aren’t going to be competitive in games when these guys only combine for 14 points.

Wizards vs. Hawks final score: Bradley Beal’s 36 lift Washington to 131-117 win over Atlanta

Six Wizards players score in double-figures, led by Bradley Beal with a season-high 36 as the Wizards took down the Hawks on Wednesday evening, 131-117. Otto Porter scored 20 and Kelly Oubre added 19 points off the bench for a short-handed Wizards squad that was without the services of John Wall (personal reasons) and Jeff Green (sore back) in Atlanta.

After a lackluster start to the game, the Wizards found their footing once they made the decision to lock in defensively. After getting crushed on the glass 11-5 to start this one, Washington ramped up the intensity and took the lead midway through the first quarter. A Thomas Bryant putback dunk followed by a couple of offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive got the Wizards going in this one.

Troy Brown Jr. got some first quarter playing time as a result of the team’s depth issues and took advantage of it early. Beal drove baseline and found the rookie for a floater in the lane for his first basket. A couple of possessions later, Brown returned the favor by gathering an offensive rebound and kicking it to Beal for a three-pointer as the Wizards took an eight point lead after one.

The Wizards opened this one up in the second quarter thanks to their bench. Kelly Oubre Jr.brought instant energy off the bench, scoring 12 points in the second quarter as Washington’s lead ballooned to 23 heading into halftime. It was arguably their best defensive half of the season and it was one of their best on the offensive end as well, as they assisted on 17 of their 24 made baskets.

After a stellar defensive performance in the first half, Washington turned in a clunker in the third quarter. They gave up 45 points in the period, which allowed Atlanta to get right back in the game. Two sloppy plays by Markieff Morris near the end of the quarter allowed the Hawks to get what was a 25-point lead back down to single digits heading into the fourth quarter.

With the Wizards lead trimmed down to five, 105-100 with ten minutes left, Tomas Satoranskycame up with a big three-pointer in transition that shifted the momentum back in Washington’s favor. The Wizards were able to take back control after that three and cruise to their third straight win, and ninth win in their last 14 games.

Takeaways

Bradley Beal calmly dominates the game

It’s really hard to score a quiet 36 points but Bradley Beal did it in this game. He was clearly the best player on the floor this evening and he played like it, scoring a season-high 36 points this evening and dishing out a team-high nine assists for Washington.

He was outstanding early on slicing his way to the basket and taking his man off the dribble for some close-in shots, leading the Wizards with 21 points at halftime.

Whenever the Wizards needed a basket in the second half once things were a little close for comfort, Beal stepped up to the plate. Whether it was a floater in the lane or a three-pointer from the wing, he gave the Wizards just what they needed to keep the Hawks at bay. He channeled the best parts of how he played during the ‘Everyone Eats’ phase last season to help Washington overcome John Wall’s absence.

Tomas Satoransky turns in a rock-solid performance

With John Wall sitting this one out due to personal reasons, that opened the door for Tomas Satoransky to run the show at point. He was outstanding tonight with 14 points on 5-7 shooting and knocked down some timely three-pointers in the fourth quarter when Atlanta clawed back within striking distance.

Scoring aside, he pitched a near-perfect game everywhere else. He led the charge defensively for Washington, forcing two steals and dished out seven assists without committing a turnover.

The Kelly Oubre experience takes its show on the road

Kelly Oubre has been frustratingly up-and-down all season and tonight, he continued one of his odd trends – he’s playing much better on the road than at home. After a 21-point night against the Knicks on Monday, he followed it up with 19 points and 5 rebounds in Atlanta.

Unlike Monday where he caught fire from deep, he did most of his damage in the paint against Atlanta, attacking the hole and getting to the line. He pushed the ball in transition for some easy shots and helped facilitate some ball movement in transition to set up Otto Porter for this layup.

The Wizards take care of a sub .500 team

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here; the Hawks are a lottery-bound basketball team. But, these were the kinds of games that Washington lost countless times last year. They’ve held serve recently against bottom-feeders like the Nets, Knicks, and Hawks. They’ll get another chance in a winnable game on Saturday as they take on the Cavaliers in Cleveland.

Rockets at Wizards Final Score: Wizards overcome 54 points from Harden, beat Rockets 135-131 in overtime thriller

John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 68 points tonight in a vintage House of Guards game as Washington was able to overcome 54 points from James Harden and beat Houston in an overtime thriller, 135-131.

Washington’s bench combined for 45 points led by Markieff Morris with 22 points and 10 rebounds as Washington wins their second straight game over a Western Conference foe.

Houston, and more specifically, Eric Gordon came out smoking hot to start this one. The Rockets started the game 10-14 from the field including knocking down all six three-point attempts as Houston raced out to an early 27-10 lead forcing Scott Brooks to burn two early timeouts. For the third time this season, Washington surrendered 40+ points in the first quarter and it felt like this one had the makings of a blowout.

Things changed for Washington in the second quarter when they inserted their reserve unit and started pushing the ball. Some tic-tac-toe passing from Wall to Beal to Morris ended up in a dunk late in the second quarter as the Wizards used a 12-2 run to regain the lead 67-65 into the break.

James Harden put on a shooting clinic in the third quarter. First, it was step back three-pointers, then knocking down threes even while getting fouled; and if the Wizards crowded him? He’d drive right by for the layup. Harden scored 21 points in the period as the Rockets regained the lead 98-94 entering the fourth quarter.

Late in the fourth quarter, James Harden did his dance, stepped back for three and knocked down yet another three-pointer and got fouled giving him 50 points on the night as Houston took a 121-117 lead looking to bury the Wizards. But Washington wouldn’t go away. Big three-pointers from Morris and Beal allowed the Wizards to retake the lead and Porter could have put the nail in the coffin as he had a wide-open three with the Wizards up one but it rimmed out.

John Wall would get stripped on the final play of regulation and after five ties and five lead changes in the quarter alone, we’d be going to overtime.

Washington locked down defensively in the overtime period as Houston didn’t score their first basket until the 1:35 mark of the period. After a few tough shots from John Wall, Otto Porter picked off James Harden and threw a touchdown pass to Beal for the dunk icing the game.

Washington overcomes Harden’s 54 points to beat Houston, 135-131 in overtime.

The Wizards can get stops when they want to

It feels very weird to write this as Washington surrendered 131 points tonight but there were stretches where the Wizards played some very sound defense, specifically, towards the end of the fourth quarter and in the overtime periods.

Bradley Beal did a terrific job limiting Harden’s damage, as everyone in the arena knew that he’d try to take over late. Beal crowded Harden forcing him to take some very tough shots (some he made but you just have to tip your cap in that instance).

In the overtime period, Washington was able to hold Houston to just one point until the 1:35 mark with many key stops and forcing some opportune turnovers.

This is what makes the Wizards so frustrating. They were able to play outstanding defense for 3-4 minute stretches tonight and really forced Houston to work for their shots. But then, there were plenty of moments where it was clear that defense was the last thing on their minds. If Washington could lock in defensively for the entire 48 minutes, as they’ve shown glimpses that they are capable of doing, they’d be a very good basketball team. Instead, they find themselves surrendering 120+ points per night and with an 8-12 record.

The bench has proven to be a huge motivator for Markieff Morris

Just four games ago, Markieff Morris was relegated to the bench for his subpar play. Since the lineup shakeup from Brooks, the Wizards have gone 3-1 and it seems to have lit a fire under Morris as he’s playing his best basketball over the season culminating tonight with a 22-point and 10 rebound performance on 8-12 shooting including going 3-4 from three-point range.

Even though Morris came off the bench tonight, he outplayed Kelly Oubre, the guy who replaced him in the starting lineup by 21 minutes. Morris was on the floor in crunch time including the end of regulation and the entire overtime period, when it mattered most.

The reason Morris has been so frustrating for Wizards fans is that he’s capable of nights like this but far too often turns in clunkers of a performance. The irony here is if he continues to play this well off the bench, will Brooks reinsert him back into the starting lineup or keep things put?

Wizards vs. Heat final score: Wizards lose opener 113-112 on Kelly Olynyk’s last-second putback

It’s that guy again, huh?

In a game that featured 21 lead changes and 19 ties, no basket was more important than Kelly Olynyk’s putback off a Dwayne Wade miss with 0.2 seconds to play in regulation to spoil the Wizards’ regular season opener, 113-112.

The Wizards were looking for a fresh start to the season after last year’s shortcomings, and John Wall looked ready to provide it early. The All-Star reminded everyone what he’s capable of when playing on two healthy knees as he crossed over for a layup and hit a three in transition for the Wizards first five points of the season.

Scott Brooks wants the Wizards taking more three-pointers this year and Markieff Morris took well to that message knocking down both attempts in the first quarter as Washington jumped out to a quick 17-6 lead. But as we’ve become accustomed to with Brooks, he went with the dreaded all-bench lineup that brought the Wizards’ offense to a screeching halt as Miami trimmed the lead to one, 25-24 after the first quarter.

To no surprise, Brooks stuck with the reserves to start the second quarter until the 8-minute mark. For as great as the first nine minutes of the first quarter was for the Wizards, the final eight minutes of the second quarter were equally as bad. Poor defensive effort, missed free throws, and a slew of fouls allowed Miami to hang around. Even with all the mishaps, the Wizards somehow led 59-58 at halftime.

That poor play carried over into the third quarter as the Heat went on a 7-0 run to take a 69-62 lead. Midway through the third period, Jason Smith and Hassan Whiteside dove for a loose ball resulting in a tie up. John Wall ran right at Derrick Jones Jr. and had some words for him as he swiped the ball away from Smith. Wall picked up a technical foul, because, does the game really count if the Wizards don’t get a technical foul?

Washington bounced back with a 10-0 run and regained the lead, 87-85 after three quarters. The teams traded baskets and free throws for most of the fourth quarter but the Miami Heat came up with the big plays when they counted. And more importantly, corralled loose balls (i.e. Olynyk’s offensive rebound) and hit their free-throws.

This was an all too familiar ending for a team who looked awfully similar to last year’s underwhelming squad.

Takeaways

John Wall looks just fine

John Wall will be under a magnifying glass this season and specifically, his knee, but he didn’t disappoint tonight. Wall scored a team-high 26 points to go along with 9 assists in a typical John Wall game.

On the very first play of the game, Wall crossed over for an easy layup at the rim. Next time down, he pulled up for three giving Washington a 5-0 lead in the blink of an eye. But it wasn’t just his scoring early on that was impressive; it was his effort on the defensive end in the first quarter. Wall looked much more energized on the defensive end resulting in deflections and fast break opportunities for the Wizards on the offensive end.

Wall was the only Wizards player to score in double digits in the first half as he notched 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting through the first 24 minutes.

That aggressiveness carried over into the second half as Wall fearlessly attacked the hole and looked like his old self getting out in transition. Outside of a few missed free-throws, there’s not a whole lot to complain about from Wall tonight.

New season, same rotations

Many think this year’s bench is the deepest Washington has had during the Wall era. We got our first taste of the all-reserve unit at the 2:55 mark of the first quarter with the Wizards up 19-13. After a nice drive from Austin Rivers, the Washington offense sputtered with Miami outscoring the Wizards 11-6 the rest of the quarter.

The Wizards carried a 4+ minute field goal drought into the second quarter allowing Miami to tie the game at 33 just minutes into the second period, which forced Brooks to start reinserting his starters.

The All-Reserve unit was a bit better in the second half but still, nothing to write home about. Regardless of who’s on his roster, it doesn’t look like Brooks is going to change his substitution patterns.

Wizards must rely on small ball even though it isn’t the long-term solution

Ian Mahinmi played well in the first quarter but outside of that, the Wizards didn’t get much production from the true center position. Mahinmi and Jason Smith each ended the night with four fouls and were glued to the bench in the second half as neither were viable options.

Jeff Green played terrific tonight as a fill-in at the center position but this won’t be a long-term solution for the Wizards evidenced as they got crushed on the glass, 55-40.

Game 1 Overreactions

  • It doesn’t look like Kelly Oubre is going to take that next step. He was 2-of-8 from the field.
  • The Otto Porter debate will continue all season long. He snagged 11 rebounds but didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer.
  • John Wall is the Wizards best post defender.
  • The Wizards have a huge hole at the center position.
  • Bradley Beal’s head-scratching free-throw issues continue. He was 4-of-6 at the line.
  • The Wizards will probably lead the league in technical fouls this season.