Post Game Analysis
The Memphis Grizzlies pull the Washington Wizards card once again, calls their bluff, and defeats them for the second time within a two-week time frame. In Washington’s first game to start the second half of the season, they fall 127-112 to Memphis.
The Washington Wizards are just a bad matchup when it comes to the Grizzlies. Memphis is a very young team and energetic on both sides of the floor which can cause nightmares for a very inconsistent Wizards team. On March 2nd, Memphis scored 56 points in the paint, 32 points off of turnovers, forced 22 Washington turnovers and the list does not get any better. Ja Morant contributed 35 points and 10 assists, De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks each had 20 points.
Not sure if the players were paying attention during the film session or spent too much time enjoying All-Star Weekend 2021 because the Memphis Grizzlies picked up right where they left off.
In the first quarter, Memphis had 26 points in the paint, shot 67 percent from downtown, and made 62 percent of their Field Goals. Washington was igniting a barnburner on their side of the court with 20 percent shooting from 3-point range and only made 10 of 27 shots. This game would have turned ugly if not for Russell Westbrook’s aggressiveness and transitional scoring. The fact that Washington could not take advantage of Memphis’ inability to guard the paint during the first half as well as defend the paint is a recipe for disaster and it was.
Where do I start?
Memphis out-rebounded Washington, 60 to 39 and 14 of them were offensive rebounds that contributed to 22-second chance points. We have three Centers that can be used and all are just horrendous at rebounding. The fact that Russell Westbrook is our best rebounder as a Point Guard is just ridiculous. Russell is currently averaging 9.6 rebounds per game compared to 4 rebounds a game from Robin Lopez and 3 rebounds per game from Wagner.
Westbrook finished with 20 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Washington’s pick and roll defense was horrendous and allowed Memphis to score 78 of their 127 total points in the paint. Memphis also grabbed 14 offensive rebounds that contributed to 22 second-chance points
“We all float down here”
Memphis was PennyWise when it came to floaters. Floater after floater after floater went in for the Grizzlies. The basket seemed as wide as a floor because it didn’t matter if it was high glass, bounced off the rim, off the backboard, or off the top of the backboard. The basketball was going to find a way to score for Memphis.
Jonas Valanciunas put on a clinic against Washington scoring a season-high 29 points and matched a career-high 20 rebounds. Moe Wagner got put on a poster in the third quarter when Jonas caught an alley-oop from Ja Morant and it was nasty. The play was almost comical because the ref could have been petty and called the offensive foul because Wagner was put in a headlock while Valanciunas was in mid-air. Overall, Wagner played well on defense last night but there are certain centers that he just cannot excel against at this point of his career.
We need a Center, bad.
Beal vs Brooks
In the last meeting between these two teams, Dillon Brooks did a very impressive job guarding Bradley Beal. Brooks gave Beal little to no breathing room, forced his way around or through screens, and kept Beal to 23 points. For Beal, that is an off night and he definitely respects Dillon Brooks’ talent on the defensive end. Last night, Beal scored 21 points, shot 6 of 22 from the field, and only made one 3-point attempt. In both games combined, Beal has shot 14 of 40 from the field (35%) and 2 of 12 from downtown (16%). Very uncharacteristic for a guy who is the leading scorer in the league but everyone must meet their match. Most of the time it is fascinating to watch Beal dissect a defense but I would be lying to say that I was not impressed with how Dillon Brooks and the Memphis Grizzlies have been able to rattle Beal’s game.
Ok, enough Beal slander.
Bradley Beal scored 26 points in the 2021 All-Star game marking him 2nd in most points scored in All-Star game franchise history and joining the ranks of Moses Malone and Gus Johnson. Moses Malone holds the current franchise record with 27 points scored in the 1987 All-Star game. Bradley Beal passed Phil Chenier for fourth on the Wizards career steals list. Panda is also ranking third in the NBA behind Damian Lillard and Stephan Curry in Free Throw percentages, shooting above 90 percent.
Rest of the Season
Washington will play 37 more games to finish out the season and it will not be easy for this team to turn on that gear to hopefully make the playoffs. Wizards opened their 5 game home slate last night and follow up with meetings from Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Sacramento, and Utah. Washington’s toughest part of the schedule will come in April. Washington’s longest road trip will occur in April which includes a 6 game bid in a 10-day stretch. The Wizards will face Toronto and Orlando then travel to the west coast to face Golden State, Phoenix, Utah, and Sacramento.
The rebounding and defensive presence in the paint and beyond needs to be addressed quickly because Washington will face Embiid on Friday and Giannis on Saturday. If Scott Brooks doesn’t implement some changes these superstars have the capability to put up 40 points and 20 rebounds easily.