Wizards' loss to Cavs was the exact type of loss they want to avoid

Chase Hughes
NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards have had some moments already this season that point to the possibility of a fun and entertaining year, regardless of their record. Losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers at home, though, is not fun.

But that's what they did on Friday night and they did it in ugly fashion. They had 19 turnovers and shot a gross 7-for-31 (22.6%) from three. The Cavs only played nine players and somehow seven of them reached double figures.

In some ways, reality set in on the Wizards on Friday night as they went toe-to-toe with a team they would like to think they are better than. But really, there may be no team in basketball more similar to the Wizards than the Cavs.

Both teams have held onto an All-Star player who in most situations would not be included in a rebuild. They have surrounded that All-Star with young teammates, including recent top draft picks.

And they can't play defense. The Cavaliers set an NBA record last season with a 117.6 defensive rating, according to Basketball Reference. The Wizards are at 112.7 this season, fourth-worst in the league.

That made the Wizards' shooting performance and 100 total points extra concerning. Cleveland had given up 250 total points in their previous two games, yet they locked the Wizards down late and held them to 16 in the fourth quarter.

There are going to be some growing pains with this Wizards team and that is understandable, but there were some elements to this loss that were extra disappointing. Like, how they gave up 67 points in the first half and let rookie Kevin Porter Jr. light them up off the bench.

Coming out flat defensively against a bad team at home is what the old Wizards did. The new Wizards are supposed to not do that. The culture they are trying to build is intended to prevent games just like this. But apparently even a team full of young and hungry players can have games where they drag their feet.

Head coach Scott Brooks began his postgame press conference by pointing to the Wizards' six foul shots compared to the 29 attempted by the Cavs. That was undoubtedly a big reason why Washington lost the game.

But you can also bet that after he reviews the film, he is going to have some sharp criticism for his team's defensive performance and for the costly mistakes they made with the ball on offense. With their talent level relative to the rest of the league, they have to play cleaner basketball in order to not beat themselves.

Brooks knows how important it is to instill those lessons early on in players' careers. The chances all of their young pieces reach their potential will increase if they can hammer home the fundamental lessons of team basketball sooner than later.

It's a worthy reminder that it is early in a season with a roster that was completely revamped over the summer. Several months from now, the Wizards could be who they strive to be, a scrappy team that is a challenge to play against even when they are overmatched from a talent perspective.

But Friday night's game showed they have plenty of work to do to get to that point.


Wizards' loss to Cavs was the exact type of loss they want to avoid originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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