Playing in their first game of the season, the Washington Wizards would have liked to secure a win in front of their home fans. Unfortunately for them, Kelly Olynyk had other plans. Olynyk, who at this point is basically public enemy No. 1 for Wizards fans, scored a putback layup off a Dwayne Wade miss with 0.2 seconds of game time remaining. The ending was fitting in a game in which the Wizards lost the rebounding battle 55-40. After a 113-112 loss, the first game is in the books for DC and we can take a look at where things things went right, and where they went wrong.
- John Wall
The star point guard showed no lingering effects of the knee injuries that limited him to just 41 games last season. In particular, his signature burst was still in full effect, helping him blow past defenders to the tune of 26 points, 9 assists, and 3 blocks. Washington was +6 with Wall on the court and it was encouraging to see the 5 time all-star back making plays once again.
- The bench!
Washington’s bench has been the target of much criticism (mostly deserving) over the past couple seasons. With that in mind, General Manager Ernie Grunfeld went out this offseason with the goal of turning a weakness into a strength. Early returns were positive, as the bench unit provided multiple impact performers. Notably, Jeff Green turned his 33 minutes into 17 very efficient points. The 6’9” forward shot 50% from the field, also adding 2 three point field goals to his tally. If Green and co. can consistently provide similar performances throughout the season, the Wizards should be in good shape come April.
- Interior presence
Washington was without Dwight Howard for their season opener, and it was strikingly obvious. In addition to losing the overall rebound battle, Miami held a 22-7 edge on the offensive glass. That difference led to a 27-10 difference in second-chance points and was ultimately the deciding factor between a win and loss for the Wizards. Washington better hope that Howard can return soon, because last night showed that wins will be tough to come by with Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith occupying the paint.
Fouls were a big problem for the Wizards last night, with the starters accounting for 18 on their own. Ian Mahinmi (in what has become a common theme) could not keep himself on the court long enough to help his teammates. The starting center picked up his fourth foul just 12 seconds into the third quarter, in what was likely the reason Coach Scott Brooks decided he couldn’t trust Mahinmi on the court with the game on the line. Mahinmi needs to do a better job avoiding foul trouble and staying on the court for as long as Howard is out.
One game into the season, Washington shouldn’t hold their heads over a loss. However, if last night showed anything, its that their season might be reliant on the availability and performance of offseason acquisition Dwight Howard. That proposition might be scary for fans in the District, but it just may be the reality we have to deal with.