The Washington Wizards fell in their first outing of the season, the first game of the season in the NBA, Halloween Eve in Cleveland to the young Cavs, 94-84. Long-time thorn in the Wizards side, Anderson Varejao, had a career night Tuesday. He finished the game a point and an assist shy of his first triple double, along with a career high in rebounds: 9 points, 9 assists, 23 rebounds. Reigning ROY Kyrie Irving added 29 points and now the Wizards (0-1) head home against Boston looking for their first win of the season.
Without their top two players (John Wall and Nene) for the foreseeable future, this new squad of Wizards players will need to find more consistent scoring and more urgent defense in the coming weeks to win. Jamal Crawford led the Wizards in scoring with 11 points, many other Wizards contributed in the close loss, but 11 for your teams leading scorer is not going to cut it.
The Wiz were out rebounded 54-39 (in large part because of Varejao’s performance), they shot a putrid 8/32 from 3-point land, missed eight free throws, and still managed to hold the lead midway through the fourth quarter. All of this without the aforementioned Wall and Nene, along with young front court player Kevin Seraphin. This rag-tag group of young and new role players will have to find a way to ban together and steal a few games in the early part of the season.
Head Coach Randy Wittman won his job in large part because of what his players said in exit-interviews following last season. They told ownership and GM Ernie Grunfeld how Wittman’s defensive principles and coaching style fit well with personnel, how the young guys in the locker room were ready to follow him this season; with so much of his teams talent sidelined due to injury the first month of this season is sure to be the biggest challenge for Wittman in his tenure with the Wizards. Can he keep this team competitive night-in and night-out (a problem last season)?
With the first game in the books there is definite room for improvement, especially the back court. Starters A.J. Price (Wall’s backup and career role player) and rookie Bradley Beal (3rd overall pick in this years draft) shot a combined 4/12 from the field; that has to improve. Newly acquired Trevor Ariza was the only new Wizards player who played well enough to highlight: 9 points, 3 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, a truly eclectic first game as a member of the Wiz/Bullets.
So, we wait until Saturday for any improvements to the lineup, any changes in the team approach. The NBA season has officially started! If you’re a fan of one of the contending teams this season, rejoice! Fans of my beloved Wizards and other teams trapped in lottery hell, rest easy. There will be a few teams that surprise and a few teams that disappoint. I wouldn’t be too surprised if one of these two team (Wizards and Cavs) doesn’t end up in the playoff hunt when it’s all said and done.
Coming Up: Home opener vs. Boston Saturday, @ Boston next Wednesday, vs. Bucks next Friday
- After last season’s hectic lockout schedule it’s going to take some time for me to get used to less basketball. I got so accustomed games every single night last season, it’ll take some getting used to for sure.
- Cav’s owner, Dan Gilbert, officially recanted what he said conserning LeBron not winning a title until after the the city of Cleveland Tuesday saying, “Looking back now that probably was not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life.” You don’t say…
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.