Until the Wizards turn the corner and string together a serious winning streak for the first time, questions will persist about them going back to the old style of play and abandoning pace-and-space.
They should cease because that's not happening.
"Both systems are cool," said point guard John Wall, who had 26 points, a season-high 16 assists, five rebounds and two blocks in a 114-111 win at the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. "We just rely too much on help defense. We're giving guys straight-line drives, putting us in rotation where we have to help. Then you're giving up wide-open threes. Even if you're contesting late, good three-point shooters in the league don't need that much time. That's what's hurting us."
Last season, the Wizards had similar issues with their rotations but it was a disconnect between the backcourt and frontcourt on mostly pick-and-roll situations. That's why they had so much trouble with the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks in the regular season, losing six of seven. There was a shocking amount of points being scored in the paint because guards were getting to the rim.
Now it's the long ball. In theory, with the Wizards going away from two post players (Marcin Gortat and Nene) in the starting lineup and opting for a "stretch" power forward, they'd be better equipped at covering the arc. That hasn't happened.
Kris Humphries, who now is out with a sore ankle, initially started as the "stretch" but he has difficulty defending that far away from the rim. Jared Dudley, the new starter, is a better position defender but he's undersized and sometimes not athletic enough to recover to the shooters.
In two games vs. the Wizards, Wes Matthews of the Dallas Mavericks has shot 16 of 28, or 57%, on three-pointers. Paul George and C.J. Miles of the Indiana Pacers combined to shoot 15 of 17, or 88%. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday combined to shoot 10 of 13, or 77%, for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Wizards will have to figure it out, like they did their poor defense against the pick-and-roll last year to advance to the East semifinals. Coach Randy Wittman was dealt these cards, no matter how difficult with all the current injuries, and has no choice but to succeed.
Twenty-two games into the season, there's no turning back.
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