Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Defending Rajon Rondo on and off of the ball are keys for the Wizards defense on Wednesday night.
In Saturday's loss to the Boston Celtics, we saw some positives and negatives with regard to the Wizards' help defense and rotations. With a specific eye on Jan Vesely, let's take a look at how Washington defended Boston.
Rajon Rondo and the Celtics tested Jan Vesely's help-and-recover abilities numerous times, and he did a solid job of getting back to his man most of the time. The video below shows some examples of his successful defensive efforts in contesting jump shots.
Vesely stopped Rondo's penetration off the pick-and-roll, but it doesn't look like Rondo was very determined to get to the basket in most of these situations. Regardless, Vesely hedges on Rondo and gets back to contest his man's jumper. It remains to be seen if Rondo will force the issue against Vesely in tonight's game.
Unfortunately, the Wizards faltered when Vesely was tasked with rotating to someone other than his own man. The video below shows a few examples of Vesely and (at least) one of his teammates both rotating to the same Celtic player.
It's hard to put blame on one player or another, but the team's overall defensive communication can always improve. Perhaps Vesely needs to know that when he helps below the free throw line, his recovery path needs to be towards the weakside of the court, not back to his original assignment.
Rondo will have the ball in his hands during most Boston possessions, but when he doesn't, Washington needs to be aware of his location during their defensive rotations. Every season there is talk of Rondo improving his shooting and/or being more aggressive, but until he proves it, there's no reason to go crazy closing out on him if the ball is swung his way. In the video below, you can see two Wizards run at Rondo, leaving Kevin Garnett open for a jumper.
Jannero Pargo provided a good example of a careful closeout and an eagerness to help off of Rondo when faced with a bigger threat.
Handling Rondo in the pick-and-roll and off of the ball will likely be a big factor in tonight's game. Jan Vesely has the length and speed to cause problems, but using those attributes in the correct way would be a big bonus for the Wizards' defense.