The double screen set that got the Wizards going in Game 5

Andy Lyons

After a shaky start to the game, John Wall finally got loose and toasted the Indiana Pacers defense for 27 points on 11-20 shooting in just three quarters of work. We break down a key new set that helped the Wizards get him going.

One could quickly dismiss Game 5 as a stroke of luck. John Wall finally broke out of his playoff-long shooting drought and Marcin Gortat turned in his best performance yet as a Wizard. None of this will prompt any wholesale changes to Frank Vogel's game plan, as I'm sure the brunt of the blame will be placed on the Pacers' lack of energy as opposed to the Xs and Os.

Maybe it's true. Maybe it really is as simple as Wall finally making a defense pay for sagging off him in half-court sets or opposing big men sitting back in the lane while he initiates a pick and roll. There's not much different about the looks he got on Tuesday night, and it goes to show just how much better this team looks when their point guard is hitting shots.

But it'd be wrong to say the Wizards just kept doing the same thing with different results. The biggest thing for Wall is how he attacks the space in front of him on the pick and roll. Big men will sit back in the lane against Wall no matter what their scheme entails and it's up to Wall not to take the bait and settle for jumpers.

It helped that the Wizards added a new wrinkle to their offense. They've found a lot of success on 1-3 pick and rolls with Trevor Ariza this postseason, but they took it a step further and added a roll man to the equation, turning it into a double screen.

Wall_double

Washington used this set a number of times in Game 5, and Indiana just couldn't crack it. Ariza and Gortat would often set their screens in succession (this is known as a staggered screen), or they would do it all at once, as highlighted in the still above.

But the beauty of this set lies in all of the options Wall has at his disposal. Here, the Wizards run Bradley Beal off a back screen into the corner for a three after the initial action. It works so well because David West refuses to leave the painted area.

Wall_double_2

If West jumped out and defended this up close, Indiana may have been forced to switch and Wall could have just as easily found Nene working the elbow with the much shorter George Hill on him. Hill does get back at the last second to contest the Beal three, but the real action is happening on the other side between the two screeners.

Wall_double_3

Look at all three pictures again to see how far Hibbert sags into the lane, away from the screening action. The play essentially turns into a 3 on 2 situation with Ariza screening off Wall's man and Gortat screening off Ariza's man. As Wall jets around the double screen and delivers the pass, Ariza and Gortat will break off in opposite directions, with one fading to the three point line and the other rolling to the rim. All of this movement causes confusion, and Gortat ends up taking both defenders with him.

The point: had Indiana snuffed out the back screen for Beal, Wall could have probed in the middle of the lane and found Ariza behind him for three. The options are endless.

The Pacers finally retaliated and slowed down the attack by throwing hard hedges at Wall, but he kept his dribble alive and moved to his second screen.

Hedge

This is what makes this play so effective. If one thing gets shut off, you can run the exact same action on the other side of the floor. And the Wizards are especially equipped to deploy these sets because they have two elite shooters that garner plenty of attention and the personnel in the front court to set screens and serve as roll men.

Hedge2

Hedge3

Wall misses the shot, but Ariza comes in from the weakside for the offensive rebound. It's a poor job by West for never boxing out and instead going for the ball, but Trevor gets there almost immediately. Nobody puts a body on him because the double screen got him open anyway.

It happened again later in the game, only this time Ariza comes in from the strong side as Ian Mahinmi and Gortat battle down low for position.


The Wizards now know they can't just walk the ball up and run a high pick and roll with Wall. They have to attack from the sides more often and get the ball moving, if only to move Hibbert away from his comfort zone. Nene hasn't been the same offensively since playing the Bulls, so they simply don't have the luxury of throwing the ball into him in the high post and asking him to create.

This is how the Wizards accomplish that goal. They need to keep getting into early offense, and the more they're able to get that Pacers defense moving, the better.

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