With 9:15 left in the fourth quarter, the Wizards were in the midst of an unlikely comeback against the sloppy New Jersey Nets. It wouldn’t be enough, but this play gave the Washington faithful hope that Gilbert and Hinrich’s heroics would be enough to put them over the top.
I like this play for the Wizards because it came out of structured early offense. Washington doesn’t really have the personnel to get consistent high percentage looks against set half-court defenses. However, during the secondary break, the semi-structured moments between the fast break and a called play, the Wizards’ athleticism and speed can be effective. This particular secondary break “set” came off of a free throw situation, so it’s almost certainly something Flip signalled from the bench to get a quick bucket.
The play itself is a relatively simple action that isn’t all that deceptive. However, because the Nets are in transition, they are out of position just enough to yield an open three when Hinrich attacks the middle of the paint.
Take a look:
Figure 1: Hinrich (No. 12) dribbles across mid-court as Arenas (No. 9) fills the left corner, and Nick Young (No. 1) and Al Thornton (No. 14) execute a rub screen at the opposite elbow to free Thornton up a bit has he comes to screen for Hinrich. McGee (No. 43) jogs down to the weakside block, where he and Young will stack up.
Figure 2: Thornton and Hinrich execute a high pick and roll to get Hinrich into the middle of the paint. Instead of clearing this space out, Young and McGee hang on the right block so that their defenders’ attention is drawn to Hinrich.
Figure 3: Thornton rolls to the left elbow for a potential iso-sitation (they ran this same play a few minutes later and Thornton unsuccessfully went one-on-one with Kris Humphries). The scoring action of this play occurs as McGee, appearing to seal for a pass from Hinrich, backs into Young’s defender as Nick pops for a wide open wing 3-pointer. On this occasion, Young does a great job of timing his cut to ensure his defender gets lost. Hinrich jump stops in the middle of the paint and kicks out to Young, who brings the game within two.
In a game with few bright spots for the Wizards, this was a nice example of the kind of early offense Washington needs to create on a consistent basis. Until John Wall comes back, transition buckets will continue to be harder to find. Although the Wizards’ other guards lack Wall’s spectacular pace, initiating the secondary break can be something of a substitute for his fast break buckets.
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