WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-100 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
1. With so many new players and a fresh start for the franchise, it is only fair to give the 2019-20 Wizards some time before we draw conclusions, before we make our judgments on what they are capable of this season and what they will be once the dust settles. Friday night, though, was one of those games that suggests it could be a long year for them.
They were at home and playing one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers, yet the Wizards got worked in the first half. They trailed by as many as 21 points and, though they made things interesting in the second half, still lost by double digits.
It was an ugly performance for the Wizards all-around. They had 19 turnovers and shot 7-for-31 from three. Keep in mind the Cavs are absolutely dreadful on defense.
2. Consistency has eluded Rui Hachimura in recent games, but against the Cavs he was in peak form. He scored 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting and added seven rebounds.
Hachimura's best qualities shined through against Cleveland. One one play, he charged in to make a midrange shot after getting Collin Sexton to bite on a pass fake. He then scored on backdoor cut down the baseline on the next play and not long after that powered through contact from Larry Nance Jr. and Cedi Osman for a strong take at the rim.
Hachimura had eight points in the final 2:04 of the first half and had 15 at the break. All in all, it was a really nice game and it came after a zero-point dud his last time out.
Hachimura, though, had some rookie moments. One of them was a defensive play against Kevin Love who baited him on a pump fake into fouling him on a three-point shot.
The defense may take time, but Hachimura's offensive game is already an asset for the Wizards.
3. Head coach Scott Brooks made a change to the starting lineup for this one, removing Isaac Bonga and putting Troy Brown Jr. in at the three. That move has apparently knocked Bonga out of the rotation entirely, as Brown's back-up was C.J. Miles and Bonga didn't play at all.
Brown didn't have his best game. He scored three points and shot 1-for-8. He had three turnovers.
One thing Brown needs to get better at is his skillset around the rim. There were two occasions against the Cavs where he got an offensive rebound (something he's excellent at) and then got blocked trying to put a shot back up.
Brown only played 19 minutes as Brooks went away from him. That is going to be something to watch all year, it seems. Though he didn't start on Wednesday against Indiana, the same thing happened.
4. Hachimura wasn't the only rookie who impressed in this game. Darius Garland, the Cavaliers' fifth overall pick, had 15 points and six assists. And 30th overall pick Kevin Porter Jr. added 13 points in 21 minutes.
The Wizards were interested in Porter in the pre-draft process, but he ended up falling well outside their range. He also backed out of a pre-draft workout they had scheduled.
5. The Wizards wasted no time promoting Isaiah Thomas to the starting lineup, but through three games with him starting it's fair to wonder if he is best suited to coming off the bench. The numbers weren't terrible in this one - he had 11 points and five assists - but Thomas' faults become more apparent when he's going up against starters rather than reserves.
For one, Thomas' defensive limitations are easier to mask when he's guarding back-up point guards. He had real trouble keeping up with Collin Sexton or Garland, who got away from him too easily and sometimes even without screens.
Thomas' ability to play off the ball is also a question and that's more of a problem when he's in the starting lineup because Bradley Beal (20 points, nine assists) is the main focus of the offense. On the bench, Thomas can play his more natural role and help a unit that needs shot creation.
It doesn't seem like a move Brooks would make anytime soon, but it will be interesting to see if it ever comes to it, where Thomas goes back to being a bench player.
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