Wizards

Wizards see back-to-back blowout losses as big test

Wizards

The Wizards have yet to lose three straight games this season, as each of the previous times they lost two in a row, they bounced back with a win. But in those first three two-game losing skids, they hadn't been beaten nearly as bad as they have in their last two games; a loss at home against the Cavs in which they went down by 36, and now a road loss to the Raptors where they trailed by 25.

Both of these losses were about as lopsided as they get. The Wizards let the games slip away early, giving them no realistic chance at a comeback.

On Friday, they allowed Cleveland to go on a 19-0 run split between the second and third quarters. On Sunday in Toronto, it was because they scored only 12 points in the first quarter, a season-low for them, and then gave up 40 in the second.

The two losses were for different reasons, but they were equally concerning given just how lopsided they were. And now the Wizards have to try to get back on track once again and avoid three straight. They will next head to Indiana to see the Pacers on Monday night in the second night of a back-to-back.

"It's a challenge when things don't go well. Who we are and what we're about, time will tell," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.

"Early in the season, we bounced back from these stretches. This has kind of been the longest duration where things are kind of tenuous for us, so it's certainly a test. We have no choice. We've gotta pull together, we've gotta dig ourselves out and we've gotta find a way."

 

As Unseld Jr. alluded to, it's not just a two-game slump for the Wizards. They have now lost three of their last four and are 4-7 in their last 11 games. This has followed a five-game winning streak that vaulted them to a 10-3 start on the season.

In these last 11 games, the Wizards rank 23rd in the NBA in offensive rating, 26th in defensive rating and 26th in net rating (-7.5). Only four teams have had a worse record during that stretch, one of them being the Pacers who have won only three of their last 11 games.

Unseld Jr. says he wants his team to minimize empty possessions and be more organized on both ends of the floor. Veteran wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had a season-high 26 points on Sunday night, says defensive communication has been a problem lately. He believes they need to focus on having a great first half on Monday night.

Caldwell-Pope also had some interesting things to say about how the team's chemistry has dropped off lately.

"We all gotta just pull for each other. I think that's kind of slipping a little bit. We still gotta trust each other and have that confidence within each other," he said.

"We've not gonna fall apart just because one person's attitude is here and there. We're all in this together. We lose together and we win together."

While that could be taken several different ways, Caldwell-Pope went on to say the "locker room is good." He may have been speaking generally about "one person's attitude."

Regardless, clearly the Wizards are not on the same page right now. They could learn plenty about themselves by how they respond.