How the Wizards Can Take Game 7
The Washington Wizards have shown their playoff inexperience throughout this year’s playoffs. The most obvious supporting fact to this claim is the Wizards inability to play well on the road.
For the Wizards to win this series against the Boston Celtics, they must complete a task that they have failed to achieve this entire season: Win at the TD Garden.
Here is what the Wizards will have to do to increase their chances of winning Game 7.
All-Stars to Superstars
John Wall and Bradley Beal are legitimate all-stars. The team is better when both guys are on the court the same time. In their sole road win these playoffs, the series clinching Game 6 win over the Atlanta Hawks, John Wall played five more minutes than his minutes per game average. This is not rocket science: the team will be better if their star athletes play more. It’s not that simple though as the additional minutes increases the probability of diminished returns such as poor play due to fatigue and out-of-sync team chemistry due to changes in the lineup rotation among other factors.
In Game 6 against the Hawks, it worked well for the Wizards. Therefore, the Wizards will have to play John Wall and Bradley Beal +40 minutes to increase their chances of winning Game 7.
Additionally, in tough road games, the leaders must lead by example and set the tone for the younger, less experienced, players. Wall and Beal must be more than average. Going back to their sole road playoff win, Wall and Beal played above average by combining for 73 points to lead their inexperienced team to victory. This “lead-by-example” style by both players was on display in Game 6 against the Celtics as Wall and Beal scored 13 of the Wizards’ 16 fourth quarter points. This must be replicated in Game 7 for the Wizards to be successful.
A line-up the Wizards should consider giving more time against the Celtics is: Wall, Beal, Oubre Jr., Porter Jr., Gortat. This combination yielded a better defensive rating against the Celtics in the regular season. The starting lineup of Wall, Beal, Porter Jr., Morris, Gortat had a 113.6 defensive rating against the Celtics. By inserting Oubre Jr. for Morris the Wizards defensive rating improves to 83.5. A reason for this is could be due to the increased speed with Oubre Jr. over Morris. This helps with defensive rotations that inevitably happen due from the frequent pick-n-rolls ran by Isaiah Thomas.
Markieff Morris should start over Kelly Oubre Jr., and he also should play more minutes but allowing Oubre. Jr. to get some more time with the Wall, Beal, Porter Jr. & Gortat could be beneficial for the Wizards. Barring no foul troubles, the first substitution should be Oubre Jr. for Morris. By doing this, when it’s time to sit Wall and/or Beal for a few minutes you could allow Morris to re-enter and be more of a central focus on offense, maybe getting the touches that Ian Mahinmi gets. In close games, every point counts and with Mahinmi being a career 59% free-throw shooter and Morris at 77%, it will be better for the Wizards to have the ball in Morris’ hands over Mahinmi’s.
These slight adjustments could be the difference between a Game 7 defeat or a date with the Cleveland Cavaliers.