Key to Wizards’ finding consistency may be winning on the road

Key to Wizards' finding consistency may be on road originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — It is very common for NBA teams to be better at home than they are on the road. In fact, of the 30 teams in the league, only three currently have better road records than they do at home.

So, the Wizards being now 8-4 at Capital One Arena compared to 3-6 in away games is not unusual. They are protecting their homecourt, as most teams do.

Their losing record on the road, however, stands out as the Wizards seek consistency, having proven to be rather streaky so far. They are 11-10, having gone on a four-game winning streak but also two three-game losing streaks.

It also stands out because 14 of their next 19 games are on the road, including 10 of their next 13. They just recently began a stretch of 17 of 23 games away from D.C.

“It’s going to be a very, very important stretch for us; 17 out of 23, right? That’s what it is,” Kyle Kuzma said. “It’s extremely important to pick up road wins because you want to protect home in this league, in the regular season, and if you can go .500 on the road and steal a couple games, then you’re putting yourself in position to not work as hard when April comes.”

After Monday’s win over the Timberwolves, as the Wizards get set to travel to Brooklyn to play the Nets on Wednesday, the consensus from the team about playing on the road is that it comes down to defense. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said the Wizards need to “travel with” their defense on road trips.

Purely going off the numbers, however, it looks like their offense has been an issue. Rather amazingly, the Wizards allow the same exact number of points at home as they do on the road (111.4/g). But they score more (112.3/g, +0.9) at Capital One Arena than they do elsewhere (108.2/g, -3.2).

It may be as simple as them making threes at home and missing them on the road. At home, the Wizards average the seventh-most threes per game in the league (13.1) and shoot the sixth-highest percentage (39.3). On the road, they are 30th out of 30 NBA teams in both threes made (8.4/g) and percentage (27.4%).

So, on average they make 4.7 more threes per game at home, equating to 14.1 more points from the perimeter. While some on the Wizards may point out how getting defensive stops leads to better scoring opportunities in transition, those are the numbers.

Beyond the stats, though, the Wizards believe winning on the road comes down to how they approach those games.

“Just realizing good teams win on the road, it’s that simple,” Bradley Beal said. “It’s not easy, but in order to get to where you want to get to, we have to win on the road. It’s awesome that we can protect our house, but we have to continue that same momentum and focus that we have here on the road, too, because we can.”

There may be some added importance to the Wizards taking their home success on the road given what happened to the team last year. It came up during Kuzma’s postgame press conference on Monday, how the Wizards started showing signs of trouble about this time last season, following their 10-3 start.

The Wizards had a multitude of issues contribute to their 2021-22 season, but they were 21-20 at home compared to 14-27 on the road. In a general sense, Kuzma believes what this year’s team is doing is more sustainable.

“We’re all going to fight, we’re going to fight. Last year, we gave in too quick. That’s not going to be us this year,” he said.

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