Hawk and Animal would never have gone 0-19
The Wizards travel to Milwaukee tonight where they will attempt to win their first road game on the season. The difference between the team that takes the court at the Verizon Center (12-8 at home) versus any other arena is stark. Only one other team has a larger difference between the number of home and road wins, and the Denver Nuggets are virtually unbeatable at home (18-4) versus 5-13 on the road. Carmelo should keep that in mind as he looks to get out of Denver.
The Wizards look like a completely different team once they leave Chinatown. The competition at home so far has been slightly easier (12 of their 20 home games were against teams with a sub-.500 record, compared to nine of the 19 on the road), but that isn’t enough to account for their disparate home and road performances. Offensively they were slightly worse on the road where they averaged 94 points per game (ppg) versus 99 ppg at home. Not great, but not 0-19 bad. It’s on defense where they really struggle. They allow 12 ppg more on the road than at home, 108 vs. 96. Their rebounding also disappears on the road like Ricky Gervais after making a Scientology joke. They go from a +1 rebounding advantage at home to -8 on the road. A cardinal rule of the NBA is defense and rebounding win games.
Sometimes you can rationalize losses away by thinking “well it was a close game, if one or two shots had fallen, we could have won.” You can’t say that about the Wizards road performance this season. Except for an overtime loss to the Pistons and a four-point loss to the Hawks, the Wizards have lost their other 17 road games by at least seven points. Their average loss on the road is by 14 points and they have lost eight games by at least 15 points.
The losses have taken a toll beyond the stats, and you have to wonder if the losing streak has gotten in their head. Twice they lost to teams on the road that they had recently beaten in D.C. They lost to Charlotte by 15 on the road just over two weeks after blowing them out by 33 at home. The starkest contrast comes in two games against the Indiana Pacers. Playing back-to-back games, the Wizards beat Indiana handily in D.C. by 14, but lost by nine when they played in Indianapolis just 48 hours later. Even when they have a team on the ropes they can’t close it out, blowing late leads to two sub-.500 teams in Minnesota and Houston.
So does all of this mean the Wizards are going to go 0-41? Of course not, but they need to capture some of that Verizon Center “magic” (or maybe it’s just the wings at the Green Turtle), and take it on the road. That means playing tough defense, crashing the boards, protecting late leads and getting physical with the other team. Basically they need to become road warriors. The game against the Jazz on Monday was a perfect example of responding when a team makes a run. The Jazz took their best shot and the Wizards responded in kind. Basketball is a game of momentum (both within a single game and over the course of a season) and for the first time, the Wizards have some.
| January 19, 2011; 3:51 PM ET
Categories: Lee Friedman, Wizards | Tags: Lee Friedman, Wizards
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