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Key adjustment for Wizards: Revamping sub-par team defense

Key adjustment for Wizards: Revamping sub-par team defense

The Wizards failed to live up to Scott Brooks’ expectations on defense despite a 49-win season.

Had they done just a tad better in the East semifinals, they would’ve gotten past the Boston Celtics instead of losing in seven games.

Brooks’ rotations changed frequently.

The season turned when he went away from Marcus Thornton, who was benched after a disastrous stretch in losses to the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks in early January.

[RELATED: NEWEST WIZARD EXCITED TO IMPROVE TEAM'S WEAKNESS]

John Wall had his moments of brilliance but didn’t have as good of a season on the defensive end. Otto Porter can defend smaller, less physical players at small forward but he has difficulty against the likes of a LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony even in his faded state.

That’s all about individual defense. But defense is about more than steals, blocks or one-on-one matchups.

To get to the next level, they all have to do a better covering for one another.

[WIZARDS TIPOFF PODCAST: 1-ON-1 WITH NBAPA VP GARRETT TEMPLE]

Corrective action: Team defense.

The fallout: Wall and Beal had their best seasons as professionals, though both were on fumes the last time out. Wall shot 8-for-23 in a Game 7 loss to Boston after playing 44 of 48 minutes. In the previous game, he logged 42.  Beal played 43 and 46 minutes in the last two games.

The departed: Brandon Jennings, Trey Burke.

The fixes: Kelly Oubre, Sheldon Mac and simple communication.

[BEST OF THE BEST: ELVIN HAYES vs. CARON BUTLER]

The Wizards had a top 10 scoring defense for three consecutive seasons until 2015-16 when they went to a pace-and-space style and came unhinged. In Brooks’ first season, they allowed 107.4 per game which was 21st. Opponents shot 36.4% from three which ranked 20th and 46.6% overall which was just 24th.

Oubre’s strength is defending with his 7-2 wingspan and was able to lock down elite point guards when he was in sync. But he lost his way multiple times in the postseason by dropping rotations. Mac can defend but lost time in the rotation when he made bad decisions, such as going under screens on elite shooters but going over vs. sub-par ones to open up the lane.

Wall fell asleep off the ball and was beaten backdoor. He died on screens and didn’t fight through them enough. And his communication with starting center Marcin Gortat was central to many of the bad things that transpired in the playoffs.

Markieff Morris’ rotations in help were late. Bojan Bogdanovic was exploited because of his lack of foot speed as the Celtics went at him.

There was more than enough blame to go around but by improving their defense by a few points they’re not just a 50-win team but possibly a No. 1 seed in the East.

 

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS