Bradley Beal believes defense is key to Wizards getting back on track

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Chase Hughes
·2 min read
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Beal believes defense is key to Wizards getting back on track originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Less than two weeks ago, the Wizards were winners of seven of eight games and one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Since, they have lost four of five, with the last three losses of the double-digit variety.

Given they were playing so well not long ago, a five-game stretch doesn't signal the end of times. But they have certainly reached a point where they need to figure out what has been different so they can fix it and hopefully get back to their winning ways.

The good news is they seem to all agree on what has gone wrong. Bradley Beal highlighted the problem areas in-depth after Friday night's loss to the Sixers.

"I think we’ve just gotta get back to defending. We can’t guard nobody right now again. We gotta go back to guarding people," Beal said.

He went into more specifics: "For the most part, I think a lot of our stuff on offense – our turnovers and bad shots – lead to our defensive mishaps, especially in transition... We need to accept that challenge individually. We need to hit teams first, even if it’s fouling their ass 50 times. Just letting them know that it’s not going to be any easy things in the paint, it’s not going to be easy tonight. I just think our physicality and our approach to the defensive end needs to be a lot better."

Turning the ball over and allowing transition buckets was a major issue for the Wizards earlier this season. Getting that under control helped initiate their defensive turnaround, which led to more wins.

Robin Lopez sees it similar to Beal.

"I think we’re aware of what our weaknesses are; transition, rebounding. We have to be cognizant of that every single possession. We have to be prepared to step up and help each other. When you know you have somebody behind you, you’re more willing to make the extra rotation," Lopez said.

The defense has certainly dropped off. In the eight-game stretch when they won seven, they were sixth in the NBA in defensive rating at 108.9. In their last five games, the Wizards have been 21st in defensive rating at 114.7.

They have also been worse on the glass, with their rebounding percentage falling from 12th (51.1%) during the good eight games to 29th (42.5%) in the last five. The same has been seen with fastbreak points allowed, as they ranked seventh (9.5/g) and during this stretch are 21st (15.0/g).

The Wizards believe they know how to fix that. They have played good defense for an extended stretch this season. Now, they just have to get back to doing it.