After DeMar DeRozan hits an impossible shot, the Wizards were faced with two opportunities to win the game. On the surface, finishing the game with a John Wall three pointer never looks good. But that is not what was supposed to happen.
Even with that being the case, the play call was not a good one. It did not leave the Wizards with many options or alternatives. Let's take a deeper dive.
With 8.5 seconds left on the clock the Wizards inbounded the ball from the baseline to John Wall on the right wing after he breaks from the middle of the floor.
After John Wall makes the catch, the action is initiated. The call is the "Elevator Doors" play coming from out of a Horns set. The two bigs will set up on each elbow and then come together as Rasual Butler runs in between them to cut DeRozan off and get an open three look for Butler to win the game.
But here is the main issue here: There is not enough time on the clock to execute this play properly and get a decent look with time left on the clock. The idea on a possession such as this one is to leave yourself with enough time on the clock to grab an offensive rebound and get a putback or at least foul. The Wizards did not have time for either.
Once John Wall makes his catch, he has to wait a full three seconds before Butler runs through the screens.
There are a few problems here. Wall still has the ball and there are just five ticks left on the clock. The Wizards only have one option on this play: Rasual Butler. Two Wizards are screening Butler in the middle of the floor and Paul Pierce is just standing idly near the baseline.
There is nothing going on to occupy the other Raptors' attention or give Wall another option outside of Butler. DeRozan knows that by now because he sees what the Wizards' big men are setting up to do and denies Butler of the ball by turning his back to Wall and shielding the target.
From here, since DeRozan is denying the ball so heavily, that leaves room for a flare out to the wing for Butler, but instead he tries to shake DeRozan off by cutting vertically. At this point, there is not enough time for another cut to be made and there is no screener to free him up, so Wall must take a difficult three with a Jonas Valanciunas hand in his face.
Wall has just two under two seconds left on the clock and with his speed a drive is possible, but Valanciunas does a great job of sagging back into the lane a bit just in case. Nene has taken a dive to the rim, so the paint is already clogged and there is not enough time on the clock for Wall to make a move to navigate through traffic and get a shot off.
There are a few other things to keep in mind here. The Raptors also had a foul to give, and Lowry tried to give it, but it was not called. That could have proven to be disastrous for the Raptors if the Wizards had a full two seconds to diagram another play and get a shot off.
Wittman's play call backed the Wizards into a corner on the possession, but the Raptors defended it fairly well. They did not allow the Wizards to improvise with about 2.5 seconds on the clock and that was just as impactful as the call that was made.
The play before this play where John Wall had his shot blocked out of bounds by Kyle Lowry would probably have been a better option than this play. Wall had two options on that one. Let's take a quick look at it.
Wall is supposed to wait on Paul Pierce to flash out for a three from Nene's screen after he receives the ball. But Gooden is sucking Patterson from out of the paint while Johnson has his back turned to Wall. Wall sees Lowry one-on-one with a clear lane to the bucket and he chose to take it.
He got a solid look at the rim that could've tied the game, but Johnson recognized the danger and helped for a split second. That slowed Wall down and allowed Lowry to get the block. This play had options and the floor was optimally balanced.
The play presented two things the Wizards needed at the end of the game: Options and time. Hindsight is always 20/20, so there is no telling what would happen if the Wizards ran the actual final play in the sequence above. But this would have been a better option.