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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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May 16, 2024

Wizards Weekly: 11/1-11/8

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@WashWizards

Washington’s second week of NBA action is complete. Across three games, Washington finished with a middle-of-the-road record of 12, bringing their total across the season to 2–5. Issues arise when trying to pinpoint Washington’s struggle to win games; this week, a lack of defensive presence in the paint and the absence of defensive options on the bench nullified the Wizards offense. Here’s what happened this week in Wizards basketball:

 

Heat

Washington started the week off by facing Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on Nov. 3 for their first in-season tournament game. The Wizards held their own across the first quarter, going into the second frame tied at 34 points with Miami. Soon after, however, the game got out of hand for Washington as the Heat started to run away by overloading the Wizards’ defense. After going into the half down 6, the Wizards could not keep up with the Heat’s offense, resulting in a 121114 defeat. 

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While Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma had great offensive performances, the team struggled — especially from the free-throw line. The team only shot 52.9% from the charity stripe, compared to Miami’s 85.7%. Washington’s eight missed free throws would’ve made up the seven-point deficit in the final score. 

 

76ers

Washington’s next contest on the road was on Nov. 6 against the now James Harden-less Philidelpia 76ers, who have continued to be successful without their star guard. Unfortunately for Washington, the absence of the former MVP didn’t aid their chances of winning, as they lost in blowout fashion with a final score of 146128. 

Reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid dominated Washington’s defeat, scoring 48 points on 68% shooting, alongside 11 rebounds and six assists. Kuzma and Poole again were the top performers for the Wizards, both racking up totals north of 20 points to go along with shooting percentages above 50%. A poor rebounding effort and stealing the ball at half the rate of the 76ers were a few factors that contributed to the defeat, though the team’s primary obstacle was a lack of inside presence on defense. 

While Daniel Gafford has been serviceable in the season so far, ranking second in the league in blocks per game with 2.8, the bench hasn’t been reliable enough. Gafford’s physical role on defense gets him into foul trouble; he has averaged 4.8 fouls a game, with five against the 76ers. This forces the bench to play an expanded role on defense, having to guard the starters while Gafford sits on the bench a role they are unable to fulfill. The lack of a strong defense leads to domination from big men such as Embiid, who thrive in the post, which is why Washington’s opposition gains such big leads that the offense can’t catch up to.

 

Hornets

Washington’s final game on the road trip on Nov. 8 was against Lamelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets. The offense dominated, especially the Wizards bench, which outscored the opposing bench 72–18. Kuzma also had his best performance of the season, putting a season-high 33 points on 54% shooting. While the defense couldn’t contain the Hornets starters, the disparity in performance from each bench was the turning point in Washington’s 132–116 victory. The team also distributed the ball well, out-assisting the Hornets 26–17, which gave the Wizards the push they needed to secure their only win of the week.

 

Week Three Preview

The third week of Wizards basketball begins with the second in-season tournament game as Washington takes on the Hornets again, this time in the confines of Capital One Arena. Following that, Washington’s next two contests are both on the road. First, they travel to Brooklyn to face Mikal Bridges and the Brooklyn Nets, who are in the bottom ten in points allowed per game with 117.9. The team then travels further north to face Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors, whose offense ranks in the bottom five in points scored per game with 107.1. The Wizards will wrap up their third week with a home contest against Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks. The Wizards have a solid chance of improving their 2–5 record, as both the Nets and Raptors have winning percentages at or below .5.

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About the Contributor
William English
William English, Sports Writer
Grade 12 Why did you join the Black and White? Because Sports Journalism is my passion What is your favorite song of all time? Rich Spirit - Kendrick Lamar

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