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Breaking down the Wizards' terrible transition defense

The Wizards' defense turned the Dallas Mavericks into the 2006 Phoenix Suns.


The Wizards had a four-point lead at halftime of Tuesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks, but thanks to some shoddy transition defense, the Wizards’ lead turned into a 12-point deficit by the end of the third quarter. Let’s take a look at how Darren Collison and the Mavericks were able to take advantage of Washington’s defense.

Dallas started their quick strike offense early in the quarter. The Wizards look like they are pretty safe in the clip below, as they have all five defenders in front of the ball, but Collison was able to force the issue anyway. As the defense is still getting set up, Garrett Temple and Nene couldn’t work out how to defend Chris Kaman’s drag screen. This cost Temple his fourth foul, and he was benched for the rest of the quarter.


With Shelvin Mack replacing Temple, Collison continued his early attacking play. In both of the clips below, the Wizards have all five defenders back on defense, but they are obviously not prepared to defend. In the first clip, Kevin Seraphin isn’t ready to help on a ball screen, and Collison gets into the lane. In the second clip, Mack gets beat 30 feet away from the basket, and there are no help defenders in sight. In both cases, neither Mack nor the help defenders do their jobs.


A few possessions later, we see the same thing again. The Wizards have the numbers, but there is nobody actually playing defense. By the time Collison gets to the three point line, the Wizards don’t have anyone in the paint, which is essentially an open invitation for Collison to drive. Although Jan Vesely was initially out of position, this is the kind of instinctual, athletic block I’d like to see him make. Collison isn’t going to wow anybody with his athleticism around the basket, so a block here shouldn’t be too much to ask for.


Speaking of Vesely, he had another chance to stop Collison later in the third quarter, but failed. With a running start against a six-footer, it would seem that a chasedown block would be in order.


Combine these pseudo-transition plays with a few other runouts, and it’s easy to see how the Wizards got blown out in the third quarter. The revolving door of free-agent point guards and inexperienced help defenders reared its ugly head, and Collison took advantage of the Wizards transition defense.