The Wizards did something on Saturday in Los Angeles that has been head-scratchingly common for them this season, they lost to an objectively bad team. And, as has become custom, the Wizards led by double-digit points at one juncture and their opponent was missing several key players.
It was a game in which they had no excuse for losing.
"It’s frustrating. It’s a little bit beyond frustrating at this point," guard Bradley Beal said. "Like I just told Tim [Frazier], we should be tired of coming in here and saying ‘on to the next one, on to the next one.’ You run out of games at some point."
Head coach Scott Brooks appears beyond frustrated, as well. After the game he suggested over and over that there were players on his team that didn't show up to play.
"We need all of our guys ready to play and we didn’t have that this afternoon," he said.
Brooks could have been referring to Kelly Oubre, Jr, or Markieff Morris, who had arguably their worst games of the season, but he wouldn't name names. It doesn't really matter because just about everyone has been a culprit at some point in these letdowns against lesser teams this season.
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The Wizards this season have been the NBA's most enigmatic and least predictable team. They have two very different versions of themselves and what you get appears to heavily depend on who they are playing.
This season the 14-12 Wizards have been markedly worse against losing teams than they have against teams at .500 or with a winning record. Basically, they play well against the good teams and bad against the bad ones. That's the definition of NBA insanity.
In the Eastern Conference, only the Celtics (8-4) and Cavs (7-4) have a better record against teams at .500 above than the Wizards, who are 8-5. That's the positive.
But the Wizards are just 6-7 against teams with losing records. Only the Hawks (5-7) and Bulls (5-9) have been worse in that category among teams in the East and they are terrible. The Wizards are the only NBA team currently with a reverse split of a losing record against losing teams and a winning record against winning teams.
The 2017-18 NBA season is only about a third of the way finished, and things may end up evening out, but the contrast the Wizards are seeing is very rare. No team has finished a season with a reverse split since at least the 2001-02 season (as far back as ESPN.com's expanded NBA standings go).
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It's usually the other way around and to a dramatic extent. Last season, the Wizards were 27-9 against teams with losing records compared to 22-24 vs. those at .500 or better.
In every NBA season, even some good teams are bad against other good teams. And usually, even bad teams are good against other bad teams. Last season, seven teams that missed the playoffs had winning records against teams below .500, including the Knicks, Sixers and Kings.
This season the Wizards have already lost to the Hornets (9-16), Lakers (10-15), Clippers (9-15), Suns (9-19) and Mavericks (7-19). Their under. 500 difficulties also include defeats against the Jazz (13-14) and the Heat (12-13). Two more and they will match their total losses against sub-.500 teams from all of last season.
Many of the Wizards' games have been close and they are ending up on the wrong side far too often. Their losses against the Lakers, Heat and Clippers were all by three points or less.
No team in the East has had more games decided by three points or less than the Wizards, who are 1-5 in those scenarios. No one else in the East has lost more than three such games.
The Wizards only lost six games decided by three points or less all of last season. They were 9-6 in those games and only two teams won more of them.
The numbers from last year suggest the Wizards will snap out of this at some point, but like Beal said, it should probably happen sooner than later.
"We’ve gotta learn how to put teams away. We’ve gotta learn how to put our foot on the gas," he added. "These are important games and games that we need to win and should have won."
The Wizards keep playing up and down to their opponents and it's leading to a staggering amount of regrettable defeats.
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