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Week Ahead: Wizards look for offensive spark
We’re now 30 games into the season, John Wall is back, and the Wizards are in the midst of an important stretch of the season. After a tough loss to a red-hot Cavs team that’s hit their stride, Washington will now look ahead to a week of games that it should be able to rebound with. Wall and co. had strung together a pair of home wins prior to the Cleveland game, and while they sit in eighth in the East at 16-14, there’s plenty of time and opportunity to jump right back into the conversation atop the conference.
This week’s slate…
Tue. vs. Pelicans (7pm, NBCSW/1500 AM)
Fri. at Nets (7:30pm, NBCSW/1500 AM)
Sat. vs. Magic (7:00pm, NBCSW+/1500 AM)
Here’s the three things we’re watching for as we inch closer to Christmas in Boston…
Warm up the offense
As John Wall works his way back into midseason form after a couple of weeks off, help is needed to jumpstart an offense that’s only scored 100 points once in its last four games. Over that span, the Wizards shot just 29.6 percent from 3-point range as a team, the fourth-worst mark in the NBA last week.
Perhaps more telling is the Wizards’ 50.2 true shooting percentage last week, the second-worst mark in the league. One sure-fire way to get high-percentage looks and easy buckets will be by creating chances off of defense, something that will be a focus of Coach Brooks and his staff heading into the week.
Need more Otto
Otto Porter Jr. went down with a hip injury against the Clippers, an area that’s bothered him before. It’s no secret that the Wizards are at their best when Porter’s on the floor. Washington’s lineup with him, Bradley Beal, John Wall, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre Jr. is still the sixth best in the NBA on the year among groups that have played 50 minutes or more together with a remarkable net rating of 21.8. After starting the year red-hot, Porter hit a bit of a slump starting in Portland, so perhaps some time to rest will reset what has largely been an automatic jump shot.
While the team’s been in an offensive funk of sorts over the past week, the second unit has shown some flashes of being a useful weapon for Scott Brooks. Mike Scott’s recent run of incredible offensive efficiency has been the motor for the bench’s success, as the first-year Wizard has shot 63 percent from the field in the month of December. That’s led to a pair of scoring outbursts over the past two games where he’s scored 22 and 19 points, respectively.
Scott’s ability to get buckets has been paramount for the Wizards as the team works its way out of a tough scoring stretch. He’s also been a part of a bench unit that posted a 93.1 defensive rating (4.3 net) last week. The bench was an area of weakness at many points last season, and that hasn’t necessarily been the case this season. Scott, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tomas Satoransky and company will look to keep up that defense-first intensity as Washington searches for a spark to a run of wins to close out 2017.