The Washington Wizards have hit a rough patch in their pursuit of the playoffs and face a daunting task Tuesday versus the Golden State Warriors at the Verizon Center.
The Wizards have lost three in a row and eight of their last 10 games, including Sunday’s 106-89 setback on the road against the Detroit Pistons.
Washington suffered through a brutal third quarter, as it was outscored by a 35-19 margin, and Marcin Gortat posted 24 points and 10 rebounds. Garrett Temple and Khris Humphries scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Wizards, who shot 43.5 percent and received 10 points and 12 assists from John Wall.
“We played the last couple of quarters like it was a pickup game,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “It’s a snowball effect. It is the little things that add up to big things, and they continue to get bigger and bigger as we speak.”
The Wizards were again without Bradley Beal, who has missed five consecutive games with a leg injury.
Washington is 20-9 at home and will visit Minnesota and Philadelphia next on the schedule.
Golden State hopes to have leading scorer and All-Star guard Stephen Curry when it resumes a six-game road trip tonight. Curry missed Sunday’s 104-98 loss at Indiana with a foot injury and is averaging 23.6 ppg.
Curry practiced Monday and will be a game-time decision.
The Warriors had only two scorers in double figures, as Klay Thompson poured in 39 points on 12-of-28 shooting and made five of his 13 3-point attempts. Andre Iguodala ended with 14 points for Golden State, which had won four in a row and seven of the previous eight games.
“We scored 38 in the first quarter and 60 the rest of the way. Their defense deserves a lot of credit,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Golden State, which shot just 38.2 percent, was unbeaten in its previous three road games and fell to 19-8 as the guest this season. The Warriors are slated to make stops in Cleveland, Toronto, Boston and Brooklyn on the season-long sojourn. They are in the midst of playing 11 of 12 games as the visitor.
Not everyone is convinced on the 3-5-2 formation that Van Gaal has sometimes deployed this season. A classic example was the first half against QPR, where United did not hit the ground running and were very poor. The shouts from the terraces of “4-4-2”, in my opinion was well documented by the media and the United fans made their voices heard. This was a message to Van Gaal that United want to play direct, attractive and attacking football. The 3-5-2 system has been characterized with a slow build up, and too many back passes with United not penetrating the opposition enough. The fans have voiced their opposition to a system that is so foreign to United’s 4-4-2 “thos”, and Gary Neville is not alone in pointing out that it stifles the team’s attacking momentum.
When United changed he system to a 4-3-1-2 there was wide spread approval from the supporters and United found their rhythm to register a 2 0 win, which was a good win in the end considering QPR ‘s impressive home record.
Later there was a big disappointment when the team lost against Southampton, at home which was termed as the “battle for third place”. It was a first defeat in 12 games and Tadic’s strike shocked everyone at Old Trafford. Mata was guilty of missing a few easy chances and it was a big disappointment as United controlled most of the game.
I was at the Leicester game, whereby United won comfortably with a great first half performance. I was impressed with the form and ability of Falcao, who all in all had a very good game, as did Di Maria. I think that if United want to have a good finish to the season, it is important that these two players impress and hit form.
Di Maria is starting to look the player we all know, but at the moment his final pass/finish is lacking. Hopefully that will come with time when he will acclimatise more to the conditions and his team mates.
The away games vs West Ham and Swansea followed the same patterns with United dominating most of the play but lacking any real sort of penetration and finishing up front. This is starting to become a worry, as if we do not get it right with our away form, the fourth place will not be managed to be obtained. A Blind last minute effort vs West Ham saved us a point and after dominating for a whole 80 mins against Swansea, we left the game without a single point.
Ultimately, Van Gaal is experienced enough to know that he will be judged on results. If he delivers a Champions League place and, who knows, the FA Cup this season then no-one is going to ask about how he did
it. His devotion to a three-man defence, for instance, has been puzzling. The players are clearly uncomfortable with it and that invites unwanted pressure from opponents. Van Gaal has spoken about ‘coaching the players minds’ so they can adapt to different situations, but the United players are not his ‘Total Dutch Team’, and also there are the supporters who will be the first to let Van Gaal know of the 3-5-2 formation.
Also, the teams below United have hit form. Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool in particular will pose a great threat to United achieving their ambitions this year. In March and April we will be playing Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton and I believe that these games will determine our season and whether we will still be able to achieve our ambitions, which at the moment is a top four four finish.