• Chalkbeat

As the Smoke Settles, Wiz Look to Begin a New Streak

You can exhale. Uncross your fingers. Relax and reflect. The buzzer has sounded for the NBA trade deadline, and as expected, it didn’t disappoint. The Los Angeles Clippers pump-faked DeAndre Jordan until almost every team left their feet. The Cleveland Cavaliers went to West Coast Customs and left youthful and limber. Dwayne Wade lucked up, retreating to South Beach after Punxsutawney Phil declared winter incomplete.

Through all of the chaos, many of these teams have games to play this evening. The Washington Wizards will take on the Boston Celtics tonight, after each club played a quiet role in the day of suspense. Boston signed forward Greg Monroe for the rest of the season, and Washington traded injured Sheldon Mac for a second-round draft pick.

Washington, a team with one-too-many bad knees, returns home after a loss in Philadelphia rudely interrupted a season-high win streak. Since John Wall’s knee scope on January 31 sidelined him for six-to-eight weeks, the Wizards have played an inspiring brand of basketball. With Wall, they averaged 24 assists per game, fourth-best in the league.

“With John out of the game, we have to find other ways to score,” Coach Scott Brooks said about his team’s recent play. “John gets so many easy shots for our guys, and we do not have that . . . we have to make adjustments.”

Newly-minted combo-guard Bradley Beal recently said their new motto is “everybody eats.” They are averaging 30.7 assists per game in Wall’s absence, best in the league in that span (and would be best in the league all season). They’re taking better care of the ball as well, specifically their two backup point guards.

Wall’s immediate replacement, Tomas Satoransky, is already fifth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio, contributing on just over four field goals per turnover. His backup, point guard Tim Frazier, is averaging an impressive six dimes per turnover in Wall’s absence.

With all the offensive praise, you’d think it has been a one-sided surge. The Wizards’ new sense of camaraderie trickles onto the defensive end of the court as well, forcing two-and-a-half more turnovers per game than they did with healthy knees.

Tonight’s match against the first-place Celtics will tell us if this style of play is here to stay, or if that brotherly love was intercepted in Philly.

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