Brooks spoke with reporters at Verizon Center and shouldered responsibility for digging out of the 2-0 hole. When questioned about pivotal moments of the 129-119 overtime loss in Game 2, as well as poor individual performances, Brooks accepted blame.
On Bradley Beal’s cold 4-of-15 shooting night: Brooks put the onus on himself to place his shooter in hotter spots.
On Bojan Bogdanovic’s eight-minute stint during Tuesday’s loss, the fewest among all second-unit players: Brooks regretted not playing him more and all but promised that will change moving forward.
On Brandon Jennings’s limited production (no points and one assist through two games): Brooks said he has to find ways to maximize the time in which the point guard shares the court with John Wall and get the ball into Jennings’s hands.
The Wizards have plenty more to improve upon ahead of Thursday’s Game 3 — holding on to early leads, defending at the same intensity with which they’re scoring, executing the little things. However, the biggest problem comes packaged in a 5-foot-9 frame.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas dedicated his 53-point Game 2 to his younger sister, who was killed in a car crash last month. On the day his sister was to have turned 23, Thomas was unstoppable, regardless of who the Wizards deployed to defend him. Thomas was exceptionally productive when Washington made a switch. He danced and dribbled on the perimeter against a larger player, like Markieff Morris, and dominated the one-on-one battle by splashing jumpers, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime, when he scored 29 points.
“We’ve tried a lot of different things. The only thing we haven’t tried is a triple team,” Brooks said, half joking. “We tried to put two on him. We’ve switched, multiple defenders. He’s one of the best players in the game.
“He scored 53 on our team,” Brooks recalled. “We all had cracks at him but our team defense needs to do a better job, including myself.”
Thomas is averaging 43 points through two games on 52 percent shooting. Brooks hasn’t been able to solve Thomas on the floor, so now he’s hoping to find a solution inside the coaches’ room.
“He has the heart of a champion. What he has gone through and what he’s been able to do, you really can’t explain. I wouldn’t do it any justice to put it into words but what you’re seeing is pretty incredible. I hate the fact that it’s against us the last two games,” Brooks said, “but the challenge for us and the thing I really enjoy about my job and coaching our team is that we get to find a solution. Whether we do or not, we still have got to keep searching and keep exploring and keep challenging and keep figuring out ways to stop that guy.”
This day-after mind-set, to keep working on solutions, encouraged Brooks to walk back a statement he made immediately following the Game 2 loss. Late Tuesday night Brooks, who rarely criticizes officiating to reporters, took to the dais and answered a question about Beal’s off-target shooting by pointing out Boston’s physical defense.
“We have to do a better job of getting their hands off him,” Brooks said at the time. “If they’re gonna allow him to be guarded that way we have to make some adjustments ourselves.”
It was the closest Brooks would get to slyly commenting on no-calls against his player, however by Wednesday he viewed the 4-for-15 outcome through a different prism.
“Watching it live during the game, you think of things of what you can do to help your team but with putting proper prospective after a night of rest — if that’s what you want to call it — and film, Brad had an off shooting night,” Brooks said. “He just had a bad shooting night and that’s going to happen. Now, with that we have to figure out ways to get him cleaner looks and cleaner screens so he can get free. Whether they’re putting their hands on us or not, they’re not getting called, so it’s not illegal.”