January 8, 2019 | Wells Fargo Center | Philadelphia, PA
Entering action on Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards were just two games back in the loss column of the No. 8 seed Brooklyn Nets. Honestly, the larger the margin is before the February 7 trade deadline for them to become sellers, the better for the future of the organization, in my opinion. In a matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, one of five true contenders in the East, the Wizards got a wake-up call of how much of a gap there is between their current state and actually making any noise should they reach the postseason.
After winning three of their last four games, it became a popular take to say the Wizards are better without John Wall. I would argue they might not even be better without an injury John Wall (but it is certainly a coin flip when he is not healthy). One of the glaring pitfalls for Washington without their All-Star point guard is their inability to protect the basketball. In the first half alone, the Wizards had 13 turnovers, including multiple careless ones from Bradley Beal, that directly led to 18 points for the 76ers. Washington would clean things up a bit in the second half, but still finished with 17 miscues for 22 Philadelphia points.
One big three shows out
Wall, Beal, and Porter were supposed to take Washington to the promise land (or at least the Eastern Conference Finals). That was the goal after giving Porter a max contract two summers ago. Now one just underwent (successful) heel surgery, his second surgery in as many seasons and third in the Scott Brooks era, and Porter still does not seem worthy of $26 million a year. Beal did his thing with 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting, but got little help from the rest of his teammates. On the other side, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid combined for 57 points, 20 rebounds, 16 assists, and five steals without even playing the fourth quarter (besides 15 seconds for Embiid).
Polar opposite rookie production
The Wizards have not given Troy Brown Jr. much of a chance to show what he can do in the NBA despite taking him with the No. 15 pick in the 2018 draft. That is partially on him for not showing the coaching staff what they need to see in practice and probably more on the coaching staff for not giving him more chances since he has looked decent in limited playing time. With Scott Brooks playing a full five-man bench lineup and then plenty of garbage time in the fourth quarter, Brown saw 18 minutes of actions but missed all four of his shots from the field. He finished with two points, three, rebounds, and two assists. On the flip side, 76ers rookie Landry Shamet, drafted with the No. 26 overall pick, had a career-high 29 points and eight three-pointers. For his career, Brown has 44 points and three three-pointers.
Next Game: Washington will travel back to D.C. to complete the home-and-home series with the 76ers on Wednesday night.