The laundry list of things to clean up going into tonight’s second preseason game for the Wizards is a lengthy one, but most of it is easily fixable.
Defense will remain the priority vs. the Philadelphia 76ers (CSN, 7:00 p.m. ET).
“It’s definitely on the defensive end,” Bradley Beal, who played 16 minutes, said of the focus after a 106-95 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday. The Heat shot 65.2% in the first quarter and never were seriously challenged.
“We’re not necessarily worried about our offense,” Beal said. “We feel if we space the floor, move the ball we’ll be OK. We can control our defense and how we play, talk communicate and where we are on the floor.”
Beal managed well without John Wall, who sat out as he recovered from knee surgeries. He came off screens and make defenders pay for overplaying him on the three-point shot. Tomas Satoransky did everything well and Markieff Morris had his three-point stroke going for him.
- Keep the ball out of the middle. The pick-and-roll coverage was inadequate to say the least. The ball pressure wasn’t consistent and the help was hesitant. The Wizards still want to send the side pick-and-rolls baseline. They have to be decisive and not get stuck in-between which happened Tuesday.
- Continued use of stacked screens to free shooters without the ball. Beal did this especially well. When the Wizards set up after-timeout plays, they used Beal and Jarell Eddie slicing to the basket and then reversing course around screens to get open shots. If the defense trails, it’s an open shot as long as the pass is delivered on time. If they overplay an attack dribble gets a closer shot that’s likely uncontested or forces the post to step up which opens the lanes for backdoor cutters.
- Pace from the point guard. Coach Scott Brooks pointed out Trey Burke was too passive in the first quarter of the opener which led to the sluggish start offensively. The Wizards never felt in sync until the second half when the outcome was decided. Burke has to create more tempo to get easier shots for himself and others. Wall will sit again which means Burke will have ample opportunity.
- Someone has to establish deeper post position to make the entry pass effective. That falls on Marcin Gortat who tried to finesse too much and wasn’t looking for the ball enough with his back to the basket. When he did catch it, he was too far from the basket to do much damage and settled for lower percentage looks. Instead of forcing such a shot, he should kick the ball back out, re-post and get it back deeper. That puts more pressure on the defense. Tossing up a quick shot bails it out.
- Tomas Satoransky doesn't need to be treated with kid gloves since he's an NBA rookie (though not professionally). Seeing how he stacks up vs. mostly first-unit competition is needed. Among second-unit players he stands out.