The Wizards 101-99 Friday night win against the Oklahoma City Thunder was a sigh of relief for The District, but the win shows the team still has a mountain to climb to return to the form they displayed early in the season.
The Wizards are 2-4 in their last six games, and their two wins in that stretch are by a combined five points. A close call to the Miami Heat is understandable, but a close call to the Thunder following a blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans is a sign of concern.
Even with Bertans’ return last Wednesday, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shooting 4-of-7 from deep Friday, the Wizards still have question marks surrounding their offensive production and outside shooting.
Costly turnovers and Spencer Dinwiddie’s slow start to the season are more problems that Wes Unseld Jr. has to solve, but the Wizards have the talent to right their offensive woes.
On the bright side, Washington defends well and is currently 6th in NBA in rebounds per game (46.8) and tied for 1st in defensive rebounds per game (37.6).
Individually, Daniel Gafford’s 8 block game against the Thunder is the best Wizard performance of the last six games, and his 8 blocks are the most by a Wizard since JaVale McGee had 12 blocks against the Chicago Bulls in 2011.
As mentioned in my last post, intensity on defense will keep this team competitive, and outside of the Pelicans game on Thanksgiving eve, that intensity is here to stay.
Time to Panic?
With Rui Hachimura spotted in the team facility last week for the first time publicly and Thomas Bryant still recovering from his ACL injury from last season, the Wizards can’t wait until returning to full strength to fix their offense.
It is still too early to panic, but Washington desperately needs a “get right” game against a good team, and Saturday night against the 4th seeded Mavericks is just that. A convincing win versus a team playing solid basketball of late is just what the Wizards need to prove to themselves that their early start is much more than a flash in the pan.