The Wizards beat the Cavaliers last night. The Cavs were without LeBron James, Mo Williams and Delonte West (among others). Brendan Haywood sat out for the Wizards and Antawn Jamison got hurt around five minutes into the match, more on that later.It was just a preseason game, but hey, the Wiz won 109-104. And when it’s against Cleveland, I’ll take it.
One trend for the Wizards during this preseason has been their play in the third quarter. On Wednesday night, they outscored the Cavs 33-23. Now granted, this was against a second half Cleveland starting lineup of Boobie Gibson, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, JJ Hickson, Shaq (Arenas, Miller, Butler, Blatche and Oberto for the Wiz) … so, make of it what you will.
What I want to analyze is the third quarter offensive efficiency of the Wizards in Flip Saunders’ system. Each possession is outlined below. There were 22 total — 16 resulted in scores. 3 resulted in a turnover. 3 resulted with a missed shot (each a ‘good’ miss). 8 of the 11 FGs were assisted upon — of the three which were not, 2 came in transition and 1 came from an isolation. Pretty damn good, huh?
Before the list of 3Q offensive possessions …
Notice #1: Our friend Fabricio Oberto is delightfully involved. Perhaps Roger Mason Jr. was right when he called Oberto the sleeper sign of the summer. Fabricio is only credited with three assists for the game with two coming in the third … but Mike Miller was wrongly credited with one of those (#11). So Fab had three in the third and four total for the game. As he continues to get his legs, it’s clear to see that he sets damn good screen (almost never looks to slip quickly like Andray Blatche), and is a guy who just knows where to be (#8 and #14).
Notice #2: Flip often likes to run the offense through Caron Butler on the left wing, especially when he has a mismatch against someone like Jamario Moon. Mike Brown noticed this too as he would run Shaq or Ilgauskas to double him. Not a good move. A smart player like Butler knows just how to handle those situations (see #10, 11, 14, 15).
Notice #3: Ilgauskas came in for Shaq at the 5:46 mark (right before #11); Andre Barrett checked in for Boobie Gibson at the 3:30 mark (right after #15). With Shaq out and a smaller guy eventually on him, Arenas changed his game to try to get in the paint more … and it worked because he got to the FT line six times in the 3rd, making five.
Note 1: Flip left his 2nd half starters in for the entire 3rd; the Cavs obviously subbed.
Note 2: I was going to chronicle the four quarter too as a comparison, but that became so sloppy that it wasn’t worth the time in the grand scheme of things. Just know that in the final period, mostly involving Foye, Young, Blatche, McGee, Davis and Stevenson, the Wizards were 7-16 on FGs (only 2 assists), and committed 4 turnovers … but still outscored the absolute scrubs of Cleveland (who were down to 8 players at that point) 23-21 to hold on to the 109-104 win.
- CLE miss. Miller rebound, passes to Gil in transition, gets room from Boobie, Oberto pick, easy Arenas left elbow deuce. TWO POINTS.
- CLE turnover. Arenas open 2 pt. right wing jumper off Oberto pick. MISS.
- CLE make. Blatche doesn’t seal Hickson well on right block (frustratingly half-hearted post position), Hickson’s able to reach around & knock ball off Blatche out of bounds (wasn’t the ‘best’ pass by Butler). TURNOVER.
- CLE make. Butler runs left to right into paint off Blatche pick, gets pass, works Moon with pivot foot for a bucket. TWO POINTS, ASSISTED (Arenas).
- CLE make. Miller & Oberto work 2-man game in right corner. Shaq switches to Miller. Easy baseline J for Mike. TWO POINTS, ASSISTED (Oberto).
- CLE miss. Miller rebound, finds Gil in transition, Miller trails, gets ball, pump fakes Parker at 3-line, one dribble, MISS. (Miller probably could have dribbled deeper, but I don’t mind this shot – would have been an assist).
- CLE turnover, defensive foul – reset out of bounds. Arenas gets pass, curls off Blatche pick, Boobie trails too far, Hickson doesn’t step up. Left elbow jumper, MISS. (Not a bad shot, but Arenas missed b/c he faded).
- CLE make. First couple of looks on offense break down, Arenas picks up his dribble. Oberto is open on left wing b/c Shaq is playing off, pass to him, Miller goes behind Oberto, Parker goes in front, Oberto bounces it through his legs behind him to an open Miller. THREE POINTS, ASSISTED (Oberto).
- CLE make. High screen and roll by Blatche for Arenas, Cavs double, Blatche runs to left block, Arenas drives and dishes to open Andray. TWO POINTS, ASSISTED (Arenas).
- CLE turnover. Ball finds its way to Butler in post in left short corner against Moon, Shaq goes to double Butler, Parker sags too far in lane, Miller open at top of the arc, Butler finds him. THREE POINTS, ASSISTED (Butler).
- CLE turnover/shot clock vio. Timeout. Ball gets to Butler on the left mid-range wing, sizes up Moon who gives him room, open jumper. TWO POINTS, ASSISTED (Oberto – incorrectly credited to Miller).
- CLE turnover. Oberto rebounds and immediately outlets to Arenas cutting down the middle, fastbreak left-hand layup. TWO POINTS.
- CLE miss. Wiz in transition. Oberto pick, set quickly on left 3 pt wing before Big Z can get in position to help, Arenas drives the lane (should have taken it himself — see below), pass to open Miller fading into right corner. THREE POINTS, ASSISTED (Arenas).
- CLE FT miss. Arenas to Oberto to Butler who again sets up against Moon on the left mid-range wing. Oberto cuts through and Big Z turns his head away from his man (Oberto) and goes to double Butler. Oberto sees this and instead of listlessly hanging around the right block, he cuts out of Z’s eye-sight and is wide open on the left block. TWO POINTS, ASSISTED (Butler).
- CLE make. Ball is worked around with decent movement. Butler drives left baseline, kicks out to Miller who drives left and kicks back to Butler who has a lane to drive on Moon and draws a foul. Moon is simply not strong enough to handle Butler, and you got to like how much Flip keeps running the offense through him. 1-2 FTs.
- CLE miss. Wiz start with a 3 on 4 break. Andray busts his butt up the middle of the floor to catch up (and Rob Kurz of Cleveland is completely lost), Arenas sees Blatche, gets him the ball and Andray draws a shooting foul. 2 FTs (should count as an assist for Arenas).
- CLE make. Ball movement. On the 3rd pass, Blatche gives it to Arenas on the left block, posting against the 5’10″ Andre Barrett. Blatche then does the smart thing by cutting ball side in front of his man (Kurz). Gil dumps it off to Dray who is fouled on his way to the basket, but on the floor. Out-of-Bounds. 2 passes and the ball gets to Arenas against Barrett on the right block, draws a foul. 1-2 FTs.
- CLE miss. Butler open for baseline drive, but steps on the baseline out of bounds (barely). TURNOVER.
- CLE turnover (offensive foul). Ball worked around to a Blatche iso against Kurz on the left block. He checks to see what he has, teammates clear out, and Andray takes Kurz in the lane for a righty running hook. TWO POINTS.
- CLE miss FT. Blatche sets high screen for Arenas, Kurz tragically overplays in the wrong direction, the lane is wide open, Arenas drives left (Robinson won’t leave Miller in left corner, Big Z too slow to meet Arenas/get his feet set), shooting foul. 2 FTs.
- CLE miss FT. Arenas transition, offensive foul. TURNOVER.
- CLE make. High screen for Arenas by Oberto. Gil loses Barrett, turns around Ilgauskas, shooting foul. 2 FTs.
’7 Day Dray’ Watch
Not sure if I’m picking on Blatche because I’m just looking for reasons to pick on him (we have a ‘history’ … or rather, I have a history of being frustrated with him), or if I’m noticing these things because they simply stand out to my basketball eye.
Yes, Blatche had a bounce-back ‘statistical’ game with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals to only 3 fouls and 1 turnover. And I don’t want to come down too had on the guy … I did see several good things from him (see #9, 16, 17 & 19 above).
But still, it’s the little things that continue to frustrate me — Andray reaches too much when he’s guarding the ball. He needs to better keep his balance/position and move his feet instead of becoming an AAU-style matador. He also closes out on shooters at bad angles. He doesn’t break down into a defensive stance enough when playing the drive against non-shooting big men when they’re away from basket. And finally, over and over, Blatche falls for pump fakes. Discipline my friend, discipline.
He’s getting an MRI on Thursday morning and we just won’t know much until that happens.
The moment Jamison’s arm came down after his train wreck collision with Ilgauskas, it looked like a serious injury; the kind that has ruined many a season in Washington in recent years. Jamison said his arm went numb and lost sensation in his fingers.
“It scared me a little bit. It scared me because I didn’t have any feeling,” Jamison said after the game, while wearing a navy blue sling that matched perfectly with his powder blue sweater and navy pants. He joked afterward that it almost like he planned it.
Brendan Haywood ran back to the locker room to check on Jamison soon after he and trainer Eric Waters went back there. Then at the first Wizards’ time out Caron Butler went back to check on Jamison too.
“I ain’t never run back to the locker room in the middle of the game if I’m not injured,” Butler said after the game was over. “Had to check on my dude.”
Other Game Coverage
God bless Caron Butler, love his renewed aggression on offense, but he really doesn’t have the mindset to be a lockdown defender. It’s looking more and more like it might make sense to start DeShawn Stevenson and Dahntay Jones him (aka have him play like 15 minutes a game and be aggressive as hell on defense while playing the better player — Miller — off the bench in crunch time).
(I still have ‘some’ hope for Butler … and he’s good at help-side defense and playing the passing lanes. But what Mike’s referring to is his ability to close out on shooters, and the aggressiveness needed to really get up into somebody’s shit.)