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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 11/18/2010

Debaculous

By Kevin Broom

The Wizards didn’t just get beat by the Celtics. They didn’t just get blown out. They weren’t just dominated. The game was an epic defensive fail, likely the worst defensive performance in team history.

Last night, Boston shot 65.8% from the floor, the highest field goal percentage allowed by the Wizards since the game logs database at basketball-reference.com begin in the 1986-87 season. The game’s slow pace (only about 83 possessions per team) kept Boston’s score down and masked how bad the Wizards defense performed.

Had the game been played at Washington’s average pace (94 possessions per 48 minutes) with Boston maintaining that level of efficiency, the Celtics would have scored 129 points.

While the Wizards defense has approached respectability at times this season, my defensive scoresheet shows that the collapse in Boston was an across-the-board failure. For example, Gilbert Arenas was involved in defending 7.5 Boston shots (responsibility for a play is sometimes divided between teammates). The Celtics made all but one. Arenas’s defensive rating (points allowed per possession x 100) for the game was 120, which is a terrible performance. Yet his drtg nearly led the team.

Center Javale McGee appeared to give an honest effort. Boston shot 7.5-12.5 when he was involved, including a made three-point attempt. Shaquille O’Neal overwhelmed him physically at times, but, he led the team with four defensive rebounds, got a steal, and forced a turnover. He was involved in a whopping 32% of defensive possessions when he was in the game. McGee wasn’t exactly effective, but at least he fought. His drtg for the game was 113, which (while not good) was better than Boston’s 137 for the game. 

In contrast, there’s forward Andray Blatche. Blatche has been a defensive slacker all season (a defensive usage rate of just 17%) who tends to shirk help duties. He had been reasonably effective at preventing his man from scoring, but that’s only a small part of good defense — especially for a big man. 

Against Boston, Blatche was horrific. The Celtics shot 7.5-10.5 when he was involved in defending.  He forced no turnovers and grabbed just two rebounds in 26 minutes. His drtg was an astronomical 160.  Even these numbers may underestimate how damaging Blatche’s defensive indifference is to the team.

Wrote Mike Prada at BulletsForever.com:

The one thing that jumped out at me was this: man, Andray Blatche’s defense is really bad.  I don't have any screenshots yet to illustrate this, so you'll just have to take my word for it, but he displayed some of the worst pick and roll defense I've ever seen.  He left his guards out to dry, doing nothing to step up and cut off the lane.  He stuck to his man, for reasons I don't understand.  He also didn't contest much of anything in the paint, and was unbelievably slow with his weakside rotations.”

Everyone with sense knows the team would take its lumps this season. It’s a young and inexperienced collection of potential and possibility. And they just got taken to school by the Celtics. Hopefully the Wizards will remember the sight of veteran Celtics chortling on the bench in the closing minutes and use it as motivation to work harder, focus on their responsibilities, and harness that abundant potential into something useful to an NBA team. If it hurt just to watch that debacle, it must burn a player with some pride.

By Kevin Broom  | November 18, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Kevin Broom, Wizards  | Tags:  Wizards-Celtics  
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Comments

A video example of Blatche's defensive "effort." http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CZsgq7uGRpI

Maybe Blatche had a charley horse.

Posted by: KevinBroom | November 19, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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