On Tuesday night, the Dallas Mavericks will head to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards. They are coming off their league-worst tenth loss, this time at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Washington will be back at home after notching an impressive win in Toronto against the Raptors behind Bradley Beal’s 38 points. They enter the contest with a record of 5-4.
The Wizards are an explosive, dynamic offensive unit. Paced by their all-star backcourt, they boast the seventh most efficient offense in the league at 111.2 points per 100 possessions. The yin and yang dynamic of John Wall and Bradley Beal causes teams all sorts of trouble. Wall’s athleticism and playmaking is seemingly the perfect compliment to Beal’s perimeter marksmanship, and head coach Scott Brooks has crafted an offense featuring the talent’s of these two young studs. While Beal and Wall are the main attractions, there is much more to the Wiz than just them two. They deploy one of the leagues best starting units. In fact, their five-man first unit of Wall, Beal, Porter, Oubre, and Gortat is the most efficient lineup in the entire league through their first 8 games. And this has all been without usual starter, Markieff Morris.
3 Points of Emphasis
1. Limit Turnovers – The Wizards are one of the most lethal teams in the NBA when attacking off turnovers. Obviously, that has much to do with John Wall. Widely considered the fastest player end to end in the league, Wall is devastating in the open floor. So taking care of the ball and avoiding the dreaded “catastrophic” turnovers as Carlisle calls them, is at a premium.
2. Balance the Floor – Washington’s proficiency in the open floor has already been noted, and this goes hand in hand with that. To ensure that the Wizards are forced to try and score against a set half-court defense, the Mavs must maintain proper floor balance. Essentially, this means that instead of shooters chasing their own shots or attempting to crash the glass and secure offensive rebounds, they should immediately be retreating back on defense to build that wall and limit the Wizards opportunities in the open floor. While it is tempting to try and gain extra possessions by gambling for steals in the backcourt or hitting the offensive glass, the number of points you save by being disciplined and getting back could be the difference in a win and a loss.
3. Bench Production – While the Wizards starting unit is excellent, the bench is a different story. All season the Mavericks have gotten off to slow starts, and against such a great starting five that seems unlikely to change. So to combat that, the bench will have to do what they have been doing all year and pick up the slack. JJ Barea, Yogi Ferrell, and Devin Harris have been great off the pine this season, and they will need to be that and then some for the Mavericks to steal one on the road against a talented Wizards bunch.
Matchup to Watch: Dennis Smith Jr. vs. John Wall
Anytime Dennis gets the chance to go head to head with one of the premier guards in the league, it’s worth a watch. Noted earlier, the turnover margin is critical in this game. And Dennis has struggled with giveaways in his last few outings. It just so happens that Wall is one of the best at creating those turnovers, so the Rook should have his work cut out for him. This league is not too kind to rookies, and this could be another tough lesson for the young fella.
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