The Washington Wizards are on their worst skid of the season following their Friday night, 89-81 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the question of whether or not Washington can stay in the Playoffs picture is beginning to grow ever more impatient of being answered. Wizards guard Bradley Beal is day-to-day with a mild stress reaction in his right leg, veteran Paul Pierce (knee) could not contribute his offense to the road game, and energy guy Kris Humphries (groin) had to sit out. Washington looked the part of a step-too-slow, uninspired, poor shooting, lack of hustle squad of yesteryear.
As the trade deadline loomed two Thursdays ago, Washington Wizards Examiner and critics abound expected perhaps a more offense-oriented move by Washington’s front office. In Ramon Sessions, who contributed a second unit team-high 14 points off the bench Friday, Washington has their speedier backup to John Wall. But when Wall attempts 26 shots, and his backup attempts 10, and they go a combined 11-for-36 (30.6%) from the field, you have to question what Washington’s point guards are doing.
Wall is averaging 15.2 points and 10.2 assists over Washington’s current 6-game skid. Wall’s previous season-high was 21 field goal attempts, and he is now, over the course of his NBA career, 0-6 in regular season games in which he attempts 26 or more attempts. But how much can you blame Wall, especially when reserve Rasual Butler goes 1-for-7 from deep and reserve center Kevin Seraphin puts up an 0-for-3 goose egg while going against former teammate JaVale McGee (who, for the purposes of debate, went 0-for-2 in his fifth game off the bench for the Sixers).
Bigs Marcin Gortat and Nene could shed some light on the current situation. Washington’s inside tandem scored 10 of their combined 14 points in the first quarter Friday, and went a combined 7-for-14 (50.0%) from the field. Three of those seven misses were a result of Sixers big, Nerlens Noel, who blocked Gortat twice and Nene once. Nene did run into early foul trouble, but Gortat played 35 minutes. Where, then, was the Gortat who dropped 24 on the Detroit Pistons on 12-for-18 shooting?
If Washington continues to struggle from beyond the three-point arc, they need to consider a game plan change. Without Beal or Pierce, depending on how long injuries keep them out, Wall will have to deal with the burden of scoring from the wing. Like it or not, he will need to take a healthy amount of jumpers. The total can be mitigated, however, by a healthy amount of touches inside, which should, in theory, free up Wall for better looks as well. Both Gortat and Nene are willing passers, a fact that can get lost in the shuffle. Washington should still thrive to be a fastbreak team, but they have halfcourt options that are being under used.
The Wizards will host the Detroit Pistons Saturday in the hopes of a little revenge (7 p.m., CSN). Gortat will try his hand at an encore to the 24-point performance he recorded nearly one week ago in a loss at Detroit, as Washington aims to end their current losing skid.