Despite getting promising play from many players, the Wizards fell to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. But instead of dwelling on blown leads and Joe Johnson’s game-winning basket, let’s take a look at some of the good plays that Randy Wittman drew up in crunch time and how the players executed them.
At the end of regulation, Randy Wittman went to Nenê in the post to tie the game. One might say that this is essentially hero ball. What’s the difference between this and one of Kobe’s 6 jab steps, 3 head fakes, and a fadeaway crunch time offense? Well, check out the insane amount of action that’s going on prior to the inbounds pass. We see four screens, including two by Nenê, before the ball is inbounded. By the time all of those screens have been set, the entire Nets defense has cleared out to the perimeter and it’s a game of one-on-one 10 feet from the basket. Nenê is too quick for Brook Lopez and hits a running hook shot.
Part of why the average isolation or post-up is a low-efficiency play is because help defenders can be very meddlesome. If you can eliminate help defenders, as Randy Wittman was able to do, things look a lot brighter for the offense. Combine that with the fact that Nenê was playing quite well, and you have a nice looking post-up.
On the final play of the first overtime, Wittman continued the organized chaos, but this time it was for a three-pointer. Just like in the clip above, the Wizards set a ton of screens. In fact, each of the four players are responsible for setting a screen. As you could imagine, all of these screens and screens for screeners put tons of stress on defenders and help defenders. Since the Nets weren’t switching on any of these screens, they had a tough time maneuvering through all the traffic. [Sidenote: Very strange decision by the Nets not to switch on screens. It’s essentially a catch-and-shoot situation and the Wizards need a three. Trying to fight through every single screen seems like a stubborn thing to do.]
The key moment in this play is when Bradley Beal dribbles inside the three-point line. When I was watching this live, I admit I flipped out for a second. Why is Beal stepping into a two-pointer when the Wizards are down by three? But when he takes that dribble, Beal makes Reggie Evans run straight into Emeka Okafor’s screen. Without that fake, Evans would have had a hand right in Beal’s face. Instead, Beal gets a clean look and drains it. Clever.
For this final play, the Wizards went back to a very familiar look. All season long, the Wizards have used this baseline out-of-bounds play to free up Bradley Beal. We profiled it in the preseason when Beal hit a midrange jumper against the Bucks.
This time, however, Garrett Temple was able to take advantage of a defense that stopped Beal. In the play below, Joe Johnson does a good job avoiding the staggered screens for Beal, so Temple makes the quick decision to drive to the basket instead of waiting for Beal. Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace are actually in solid position to help, but Temple splits them and hits Seraphin for the layup.
The important part of this play was that Temple didn’t use his dribble when he got the ball. When A.J. Price ran the play, he began dribbling right away. Since Temple didn’t use his dribble, he made a very small pass/eyebrow fake to Beal before starting his drive, something Price couldn’t do while pounding the rock. Temple could use a more explosive first step out of the triple threat position, instead of trying to dribble his way past Deron Williams.
Randy Wittman and the coaching staff did a great job drawing up plays after stoppages. The players even did a great job executing those plays, but sometimes Iso Joe works too. Friday night was unfortunately one of those nights.