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Wizards Vs. Cavaliers: Washington's 0-25 Road Record Due To Poor Play Early, Not Late

The Washington Wizards will look to break their 25-game road losing streak to start the season when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Cavaliers just snapped their 26-game overall losing streak, so this is the Wizards' best chance to win.

That fact is prompting a lot of media coverage about why exactly the Wizards are losing on the road. Many, including the members of the team, are pointing to one specific problem: the Wizards aren't executing down the stretch. The theory goes that the Wizards do the right thing for three quarters, but fall apart in the fourth. In his second column for the Washington Post (and his first non-Redskins one), Jason Reid parroted this theory again.

Effort helps for about three quarters when you occupy the visitors' locker room. Execution makes a difference until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Winning on the road in this league is all about star power. Finishers make the difference.

The only problem? This isn't true, at least when it comes to the Wizards.

If the Wizards truly were only a finisher away from winning consistently on the road, then you'd think their scoring margin would be worse in the fourth quarter. However, that's not close to being the case. Here's the Wizards' actual scoring margin in their 25 road games this year.


That means that the Wizards are being outscored by 202 points in the first half and just 133 points in the second half. If you take away the two overtime losses (115-110 to Detroit in November, 124-117 to Oklahoma City in January), the Wizards' fourth-quarter scoring margin actually improves to -62. And yet, everyone keeps talking about how if they only executed better in the fourth quarter, things would be different.

It's lazy analysis, and it's all too familiar in this league. The truth is that when you watch tonight's Wizards-Cavaliers game, you should focus on what happens early. Given the Wizards' history this season, their performance in the first and second quarters will be very important to the eventual outcome of the game.