Do the Wizards have the talent? Check. The ability to score inside and out? Check. Length and ability to defend the perimeter and contest shots at the basket? Check. So why are they 20-21 going into Friday night's game at the Phoenix Suns (CSN+ 9 p.m. ET)?
Coach Randy Wittman contends that their problem isn't Xs and Os, and the finger naturally is going to point towards him. Is it his coaching? The Wizards are notorious about playing down to what appears to be inferior competition at home. Wednesday's overtime loss to the Boston Celtics is one of many.
They're on a four-game West coast road trip in hopes of getting it right by the time they return to Verizon Center next month. But three of these games are against Western Conference playoff-caliber teams in the Suns, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. Wittman hasn't only questioned his players. He has questioned himself on several occasions, including this:
"I don't know. Im searching for different ways, different motives, different things. I've got to continue to do that. Obviously, it's not coming across. (Rajon) Rondo is not playing (Avery) Bradley is not playing. Do you take a sigh of relief and then you go out and play like that? I'll continue to figure out what buttons I need to push with this team to get them over that hump. I've got to help them. I'm part of that, too."
Wittman said this the day after the loss to Boston, after he said he had a sitdown with point guard John Wall about his uneven play and taking an unacceptable 29 shots. Wittman's team seemed plenty motivated in wins vs. the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls (twice). His answer about his ability to motivate his players consistently isn't as much a reflection of self-doubt as much as it is introspection. He sees something is missing and he has take ownership of that shortcoming along with his players.
"Not good. It's just not good," Wittman said of his team's latest struggles. "We've got to somehow get over this hump of not playing the way we have to play."