The Washington Wizards hit a lot of three-pointers last night. Did you know that? You probably knew that. Even if you did, let me just reiterate; the Washington Wizards hit a lot of three-pointers last night. In fact, they hit 15 of 28 en route to a 114-107 victory over the Bucks.
With so many made three balls, I separated them into different categories in order to keep track of them all and to figure out what the Bucks were doing on defense.
1. Offensive rebounds (3 threes)
This first category shows offensive rebounds that the Bucks gave up that lead immediately to Wizards three-pointers. These are prime examples of why offensive rebounds are so dangerous. When the offense gets the rebound, the defense is often out of position, resulting in open shooters and/or mismatches. Offensive rebounds don’t always lead to points, but a lot of times they do, and the Bucks got burned big time in these cases.
2. Bad help defense (4 threes)
Here we have some examples of the Bucks playing bad help defense, which leads to open threes for the Wizards.
First there is Khris Middleton’s mistake in which he gets stuck in no man’s land. Middleton is guarding Trevor Ariza out on the wing as John Wall gets a screen from Marcin Gortat. Middleton sucks into the paint, but he is on the right side of the court while Wall drives left. Admittedly, Wall makes a brilliant pass, but Ariza shouldn’t be so open. Look at where Middleton is when the pass is made. He’s in no position to help on Wall, and at the same time isn’t close enough to Ariza to prevent a catch and shoot.
Next we see Jeff Adrien make a bad decision on when to help, and in the process leaves Bradley Beal wide open. As Andre Miller backs down Tony Mitchell, Drew Gooden cuts to the basket. Adrien helps down to prevent a pass to Gooden, but in doing so forgets about Beal. Miller wisely kicks it out to the sharpshooting guard, who nails the open triple. I understand Adrien’s instinct to try and help Henson, but if Gooden had received a pass, Henson was right there to defend him. Helping off a shooter like Beal should be a last ditch effort to prevent a layup, not to possibly prevent a pass to Drew Gooden of all people.
Later in the second quarter, we see another mistake from Adrien that leads to an open three. Adrien is guarding Al Harrington, who is set up on the right wing. Meanwhile, Andre Miller is working in the post on the left hand side of the court. With his man more than one pass away, Adrien sags into the paint, which is what he should do. What he shouldn’t have done, however, is completely turn his back to his man. As Adrien focuses on Miller and loses sight of Harrington, Gooden sets a back pick that prevents Adrien from getting to Harrington, who has slipped to the corner for an open look.
Finally, we have Nate Wolters making a bad decision by helping off Bradley Beal, which as we know, is something you should do only in extreme circumstances. Beal enters the ball into the post to Trevor Booker and then cuts through to other side of the court. As he trails Beal, Wolters for some reason decides to double on Booker, who is being guarded by Ersan Ilyasova. With Ersan in good position, there’s no reason for Wolters to help. It would be one thing if it was Dwight Howard, but it’s not. It’s Trevor Booker! WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU LEAVING BRADLEY BEAL TO HELP ON TREVOR BOOKER?!? THERE IS NEVER A SCENARIO IN WHICH IT MAKES SENSE TO LEAVE BRADLEY BEAL TO HELP ON TREVOR BOOKER. WHAT ARE YOU DOING WOLTERS?
3. Bad awareness by Giannis (2 threes)
I love Giannis, but even when you love someone, sometimes you have to point out their mistakes and show them where they can grow. Both of these threes were due to bad court awareness by Giannis, which is a big thing he needs to work on. Of course he is only 19 and was basically playing in a glorified rec league last year, so it’s not completely unexpected. These kinds of mistakes will hopefully disappear the more he plays and gets used to the league.
In the first clip, he gets burnt on a fake cut by Martell Webster. Giannis is ball watching and sees Webster cut out of the corner of his eye, so he darts towards the lane. Webster makes a veteran move, however, and stops his cut and goes back to the corner. By then, it’s too late for Giannis to recover, and Webster hits the shot.
In the second clip, the Bucks are playing a little matchup zone, and Giannis makes a bad read. Sessions has moved over to cover Andre Miller on the wing, so Giannis needs to float to the corner to cover Webster. Instead, Giannis lingers on the wing a moment too long and Webster knocks down the open corner three.
4. Drew Gooden? Drew Gooden. (1 three)
Apparently shooting threes is something Drew Gooden does now? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
5. Hi, my name is John Wall and I’m better than you at basketball (5 threes)
Sometimes—or actually almost all the time for the Bucks this year—the other team just has the best player on the court. Last night that was certainly the case, and John Wall showed it time and again.
First of all, there’s the case of Wall simply being too fast for Brandon Knight. Wall speeds past Knight in the backcourt, and at that point there’s nothing the Bucks can do. They have to stop the ball, but that leaves shooters wide open. Should Knight have done a better job at containing Wall? In a perfect world, sure, but Wall is a lot better (and faster) than Knight.
Next we see Wall’s class again, as he makes a few moves on Knight and gets past him into the paint. Henson has to help off his man to prevent the layup, forcing Wolters to help off his man to prevent the easy feed to Henson’s man. Wall then makes a brilliant pass over the top of the defense to hit Beal for an open three.
Later in the fourth quarter, Wall once again makes a fantastic play, ripping the ball straight out of Henson’s hands and motoring down the court. Despite having a good 20 feet head start, Sessions is barely able to stay in front of Wall, twisting and turning in an effort to do so. The hard push to the basket by Wall forces Giannis to collapse and frees up Ariza for a wide-open catch and shoot.
The next clip is similar to the second one, in which Wall makes his way into the paint and fires a beautiful skip pass to an open shooter. Once again, the Bucks play correct help defense, but Wall is just better, and once he is in the paint it’s all over.
Finally, we see Wall’s ability to get into the paint pay off with an open triple for the man himself. Middleton is so worried about Wall getting past him that he sags way too far off and gives Wall the open look. Three-point shooting certainly isn’t what Wall is known for, but it doesn’t mean he can just be left basically unguarded.
Wall was the best player in the gym last night, and he created a number of open looks for the Wizards from deep. While the Bucks could have done a few things better on those occasions, there isn’t a lot you can complain about when great players make great plays. On the other hand, a number of the threes the Wizards hit were due to simple mistakes such has giving up offensive rebounds and not paying attention on defense. Those are things that can and need to be corrected.
The Wizards are a great three-point shooting team (2nd in the league at 38.7%) and have a number of weapons from long range, but giving up 15 threes is something that should never happen. And in a seven-point loss like last night, a few less threes could easily have made the difference.