Wizards looking for end of offensive slump

Another tough week lies ahead for Washington as it looks to get back on track starting Monday

It’s safe to say that the Wizards are not the team they’ve been of late. A bit of an offensive outage has plagued Washington over the last week, but their overall team numbers haven’t suffered much as a result. Ebbs and flows happen in any NBA season, and the team hasn’t given much reason to worry long term thanks to a defensive rating that’s still in the league’s top 10 so far. Scott Brooks has long preached the importance of defense first, and though shots haven’t been falling the way they’ve wanted, the Wizards still have plenty to hang their hat on through the first 16 games.

Washington has stumbled through its past couple of games, dropping two in a row starting the second half of November as the schedule has gotten tougher in more ways than one. As the Wizards look to get back on track to round out the month, this week will start with the end of a tough road back-to-back before two more tough matchups. A quick look at what’s ahead and what we’re watching for…

Mon. at Bucks (8pm, NBCSW/1500 AM)
Wed. at Hornets (7:00pm, NBCSW+/1500 AM)
Sat. vs. Trail Blazers (7:00pm, NBCSW/1500 AM)

John Wall on the mend

Wall (sore knee) missed the Wizards’ loss to Toronto on Sunday, and his importance to the Wizards’ long term success is well known. With that said, his health is the most important part of that equation as Washington has its sights set on more than just regular season wins. Getting the All-NBA point guard back to full health is the team’s biggest focus this early in the season, and while his status for the remainder of the week is still unknown, the results while he’s gone should obviously be judged with his absence in mind. Finally, Tim Frazier has proven his ability to make plays in Wall’s stead, something he proved during Wall’s first missed game of the season in Toronto.

More points on the way

Pending Wall’s availability and comfort level on the floor, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are ready and more than capable of taking the reins of the Wizards’ offense. The team has struggled from the floor lately and have posted point totals under 100 just four times this season - two of those coming in the last two games - but Beal especially has still found a way to score. Of course, both he and Porter would like to get back to their high-efficiency ways on the offensive end, and they’ll look to do that this week. The NBA’s second-best defensive rated team awaits at the end of the week in Portland, but both Milwaukee and Charlotte have posted modest defensive ratings that could be the spark Washington needs to get back to their high-scoring style. For reference, the Wizards’ offensive rating still ranks 8th in the NBA.

Keep on defending

Even in two tough losses, the Wizards have prevented opponents from scoring over 100 points. If a couple more shots would have fallen in those two games, we’d be talking about a six-game winning streak heading into the week. Keeping that and Washington’s 9th-ranked defensive rating in mind, the intensity on the defensive end of the floor needs to continue. The Wizards force the fifth-most turnovers in the NBA, and with that score off of turnovers at the fifth-highest rate in the league (nearly 18 percent of their points come off of turnovers). As Scott Brooks has preached all season, it’s that knack for defense that is most likely to dig them out of their mini scoring slump.

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