clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Wizards vs. Raptors Game 3: How the Wizards became the Anti-Wizards

New, comments

Throughout their series against the Raptors, aside from a lousy game 1 and a slow game 2 start, the Wizards' offense has been clicking on all cylinders — specifically from three. They've taken an inordinate amount of threes and have cut down on the midrange twos. Has their philosophy of taking what the defense gives them changed? We explore that here.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Twenty-eight of the Washington Wizards' 76 shots last night were three point attempts. They only took 12 midrange jumpers out of those 76 shots. Now, I'm no math wizard or anything, but between the 22 shots taken in the restricted area, 11 more coming within three feet of the rim and 28 shots coming from beyond the arc, 80 percent of the Wizards' offense came from the most efficient areas of the floor.

In the postseason, 28 percent of the Wizards' shots have come from three point range. That's a drastic increase from the 20.4 percent rate they had in the regular season. What's more, 35 percent of their shots were midrange in the regular season - a rate has dropped down to just 25 percent through three playoff games.

So far in the postseason, the Wizards offense currently has a rating of 106.3. That ranks ahead of top flight offensive teams like the Hawks, the Clippers, the Trail Blazers and, of course, the Raptors. That would be good for the sixth best offense in the league during the regular season. Yes, it's a small sample, but it is something to consider as the Wizards move forward.

So, how did this happen? A total flip of strategy, right? Wizards coach Randy Wittman talked about playing coy with his strategies all year long earlier in the week, but I don't completely buy it. The Wizards' shot distribution has drastically changed, but their overall strategy really hasn't.

Yes, Wittman has stopped throwing out wonky lineups and hoping that they work, but they're still doing what they said they'd always do: Taking the shots the defense is giving them. It's just that this time, instead of being conceded midrange jumpers, the Raptors are allowing the Wizards to take all the three point shots they want and abandoning the rim in the name of trapping the ball handler.

We talked a bit about that in previewing the series. The Raptors like to throw traps at the ball and that is something the Wizards have taken advantage of. The Raptors don't normally give up a lot of threes, but they don't always face skilled big man passers like the ones the Wizards' have. They're giving up threes because they're putting themselves in three on four situations after a Wizards' big catches a lofty pick and roll pass. Let's take a look.

Once Gortat finishes his short roll to the bucket because of Terrence Ross' forced rotation from the trap at the ball, he's able to shield the ball from Ross because of where Wall placed the ball with his pass. When Gortat makes the catch, he's able to survey his options on the floor and make the correct play.

The Wizards created so many three point shots of of opportunities such as that one. Gortat finished the game with five assists because of plays like that. He has always been able to find guys open on short rolls, but it's become a feature in this series because of the Raptors' trapping on defense.

The same goes for plays at the rim. There have been a lot of one on one opportunities created at the rim against smaller Raptors' players because of the trap at the top. Gortat, once again, hits the Raptors with a short roll and makes himself available to Paul Pierce who is the ball handler in this case.

Ross, who continues to draw the short straw of rotating in the lane, is pinned under the rim by Nene with absolutely no good help coming from Amir Johnson recovering from the trap. This is an easy look for him, even if he isn't jumping more than five inches off of the ground.

And, of course, what the Wizards are getting out of Wall in this series makes all the difference in the world for shot efficiency. He's making the right decisions and making phenomenal plays all at the same time.

Watch here as the Wizards are getting out in the open floor a lot more which generates easy three point looks as the Raptors get back on defense to protect the rim from John Wall. Watch all the red jerseys converge on Wall in transition attack mode.

When Wall is in transition, everyone is concerned with him taking the ball to the basket and drawing fouls. It's a natural reaction to get back on defense and protect the rim attack, but that leaves any trailers or lane-fillers wide open for buckets like the one Beal had there.

There are four Raptors with their eyes on Wall. Despite the Wizards going 2-on-4 in transition, they still come out of this with an open three point shot.

There are two trailers on the play, but the real worry for the Raptors has to be Wall and Beal here. Wall is able to use his speed to pressure the defense into making the mistake on solely converging on him and that opens the floor up for a Beal three point shot that he drains.

There are very few players in the league who can create open threes on a 2-on-4 break, but Wall is one of them. He uses his skill set to the Wizards' advantage here and it pays off.

The Wizards are still taking every shot the defense is giving, but the defense is giving up shots that allow peak efficiency. As long as the Wizards continue to make the right plays their offense will continue to click against this defense.