Wizards 104, Timberwolves 100: Get. Back. On. Defense.

Zach Harper —  November 20, 2013 — 16 Comments

Check the highlight reel above from Tuesday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards.

That’s John Wall and Bradley Beal destroying your beloved Wolves. As I kept looking over stuff from this game, I couldn’t help but keep coming back to the image of Wall and his cohorts ramming the ball into the face of the Wolves transition defense all night long. You can blame all kinds of things in this game for the poor effort and execution. Fans were upset at Ricky Rubio not being in the game for almost all of the fourth quarter when JJ Barea was out there. They were upset at the lack of defense being displayed on the court. It was another hot start followed by a drop-off. 

I can see why that would be so frustrating for fans because they seem to greatly dislike Barea (I still don’t totally get this because his role demands him to play a certain way) and Rubio is so beloved. Rubio was awful in Tuesday night’s game and didn’t seem to be moving the offense along at all. I’m not sure if it was the threat of John Wall on the other end or if he just didn’t have a good feel for what the Wizards’ defensive game plan was. Whatever the problem was with him creating for others on offense, it affected his game and the team.

He also couldn’t contain Wall much at all, so I get Adelman choosing to go with the more productive player on the offensive end. Coach felt after the game that the offense was the problem for the Wolves. Bad, quick shots and sloppy turnovers turned into easy transition opportunities. If he felt Barea was running the team better than Rubio, I’m fine with that, even though most would disagree. This isn’t a regular thing. It’s happened twice this season (last night and in Cleveland) in which Adelman has trusted Barea in the fourth more than Rubio. If the Wolves get the win, most people don’t care. Since they fell short, the blame game gets pushed into overdrive.

I don’t doubt that the inconsistent offense against the Wizards contributed to the transition defense woes but I think it extended beyond that. Wolves allowed 33 fast break points to the Wizards. According to MySynergy Sports, 21.4% of Washington’s offense came in transition opportunities. That’s WAY too high of a percentage to allow against any team, especially a bad team like the Wizards. The Wolves allowed 76.2% shooting in transition and didn’t commit a single shooting foul in transition.

The fact that they didn’t foul at all in those situations makes it look like they weren’t in any position to stop the Wizards from doing what they wanted in these situations. We’ve said this a couple of times this season and it’s beginning to feel like a broken record, but the effort just wasn’t acceptable. I’m not sure what it’s going to take for the players to realize this or for the coaching staff to relay the importance of imposing your will on a team like this. You’re not going to be given victories because your team is being lauded by basketball pundits and fans right now.

Of course, the one time you felt truly great about the way they played defense on a possession was when Martell Webster hit that monster 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 100-98. The Wolves scrambled on that possession, forced desperate passes and somehow the ball still ended up getting to Martell, who knocked down a big shot. This would have all been avoidable had the Wolves gotten back on defense much earlier in the game and worked their offense for better shots.

7-5 is not a bad place to be by any means but we may look at these early, frustrating losses later in the season when we’re trying to figure out why possible seeding in the West isn’t more in the favor of this team.

Zach Harper

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16 responses to Wizards 104, Timberwolves 100: Get. Back. On. Defense.

  1. One of the most frustrating parts was how we goaded John Wall into shooting (and predictably missing) jumpers in half court sets, yet he still found Beal (and Nene and Gortat) often and set them up with great looks. Wall also managed to create transition opportunities even when the Wolves weren’t going after an offensive rebound.

    Agree that I didn’t mind JJ too much at the end of last night’s game, especially with Rubio facing CP3 tonight.

  2. Too bad Webster could never hit a big shot like that when he was with the Wolves. Also, right after he hit that shot, the Wolves best play to try and tie things up is an iso with Martin in the post? This game was frustrating on many levels.

  3. Besides the bad defense it looked like they missed alot of free throws. And the other thing I saw was they got away from just throwing the ball done into Big Pek. I don’t understand why when things got close and tight that they just don’t push the ball down into the post. They are going to foul Pek and Love and send them to line. That will slow things down and allow the wolves to regain control. It’s like they forget how to play and just try and run the whole time. Plus, these Wolves are bad on the road. It all seems easily fixable but I have been waiting so long that I want them to be a 50 plus win team now. Stop making me wait! It’s been 9 years!!!

  4. The title of this post pretty much sums up my entire internal dialogue from my barstool at B-Dubs last night. This game was well within the Wolves hand until the third quarter when a mix of turnovers, being out of position when shots went up, and general laziness allowed for the Wiz to get easy transition buckets.

    I don’t blame Adelman for sending Rubio to the bench. He wasn’t getting penetration vs. Wall, was making sloppy passes, and generally wasn’t benefiting the half-court set. But I’m perplexed as to why he never brought him back. But if Rubio is your guy, then you make him tough it out rather than bench him when things get rough.

    Also, I see what Adelman sees in DC and Robbie Hummel. They really are outstanding role players: they are heady guys with great energy and niche offensive skills. But I still don’t understand what depths of Rick’s doghouse Dwill has been banished to that he isn’t even getting a fair shake at redemption come game-time when he easily is the second most innately talented player on this team behind Love. Adelman seems like a guy who plays the matchups and I just don’t know why DWill wouldn’t have been the best guy to match up on the surprisingly effective duo of Vesely and Webster.

  5. “But I still don’t understand what depths of Rick’s doghouse Dwill has been banished to that he isn’t even getting a fair shake at redemption come game-time when he easily is the second most innately talented player on this team behind Love. Adelman seems like a guy who plays the matchups and I just don’t know why DWill wouldn’t have been the best guy to match up on the surprisingly effective duo of Vesely and Webster.”

    I don’t think it could have been stated any better Skunedog. I’ve been wondering this almost all season. Wife and I took a trip up to Denver to watch my T-Wolves play against the nuggets…when the first stat sheets came out and it said Derrick Williams DNP Coach’s Decision I about flipped. Wearing my Derrick Williams Jersey and the Wife wearing her Alumni, University of Arizona shirt. We were greatly disappointed. I certainly hope Derrick can see some more play time. How can you develop consistency when you don’t even get consistent minutes? Rick Adelman…becoming less and less of a fan of his choices.

  6. I don’t understand why Williams can’t get any minutes but Alexy gets at least 6 every game I like Alexy but his game is broken he seems lost on offense and defense why can’t the wolves move Hummel to SG during those sets and have Williams play forward?

  7. it has been questioned a lot but, i too, wonder what is up with williams not being able to get off the bench.

  8. A pesar del buen hacer de Kevin Martin su llegada ha empeorado mucho la circulación de balón de los Wolves, algo que ha sido más acusado en los últimos partidos. A menudo comienza la posesión botando de espaldas, posteando a 5 metros de canasta, en otras ocasiones, ėl y Love se pasan el balón durante 20 segundos, mientras Ricky se desepera en el lado débil, junto al resto de jugadores, el lugar donde, precisamente, debería esperar Martin.

    En general la llegada de Martin ha sacado el balón de las manos de Ricky que evidencia cierto hastío, se ha desconectado del funcionamiento del equipo a fuerza de añorar el peso que tenía en el juego. Su bajón en asistencias es notable, Ricky necesita el balón para ser efectivo, eso es un hecho.

  9. @Dylan: Just a note — all quarter stat sheets say “DNP – Coach’s Decision” for non-starting players until they come in unless it’s a DND (Did Not Dress) or some injury that’s keeping them out. I mean, your point about Williams not getting minutes still stands, but just for future reference. It doesn’t mean “Will not play in this game”; just a reflection of what’s happened up to the end of the first quarter or half, etc.

  10. Gawd the Twolves suck again!!! I truly had hope that we would not suck this year, but they are dropping games to sh—y teams every other night. Its the same crap…build a huge lead in the 1st half, then get stomped in the 3rd and 4th quarters. These guys stink. And I do believe the roster has been upgraded. But we still stink.

  11. should have drafted someone that will actually help with the 14th pick. Giannis Antetokumnpo would have been a much savvier pick than the liar (age) that is Shabazz Muhammed

  12. And WTF is up with the Wolves diverting to Corey Brewer late in the game (in the half-court set!!!) WTF are they doing!?!?!?!!? Why in the hell did we pay Pek and Love so much $$$ if they are not even looking to control the ball at closing time????????????????????

  13. Matt, calm down.

  14. For the record, that’s not me.

  15. @Steve: That’s good to know, thank you for that. I don’t get to attend NBA games very often living in New Mexico. Still a true T-Wolves fan though. In the end Derrick didn’t play the entire game but I guess next time I should still hold that little bit of hope that he would have seen some minutes.

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