CoachSpeak: Dwane Casey on Guarding John Wall, Randy Wittman on Nene’s Bench Spot
It’s no surprise that as John Wall’s jumper improves, teams have to adjust their philosophy in guarding him. Defenders going under ball screens for Wall is no longer an elementary, every time thing. Before tonight’s game, I asked Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey if his team has shifted their approach toward Wall—Do they no longer go under every single screen? Or do they still do the same and make Wall beat them with his jump shot?
“Well, you must have been in our coach’s meetings. We had that discussion, that debate … pick your poison. Because if you go under, he’s knocking them down. And then they do a great job of lowering the screen, lowering the screen, lowering the screen … before you know it, they’re at the free throw line, and he clearly makes that shot. And if you go over, then you’re chasing him. Now you’re at his mercy as far as with his speed, strength, and quickness. So, hopefully we’ll mix it up. That’s our game plan and we’ll mix it up both ways … blitz him some, trap him some, and show him some different looks. That’s the only way physically one guy or our team can stop a guy as fast as he is. Again, he got 37 against us at our place, but you give something, you take away something else.”
Prior to that question, Casey was asked a general question about defending Wall’s speed and the Wizards’ 3-point shooters:
“John Wall himself is a human highlight film on the fast break. The whole court is an ISO for him, because when he’s coming at you, it’s 100 miles per hour… it’s the same problem that’s presented with Russell Westbrook.
“And what’s now made him even more lethal is he can pull up and hit that jump shot, so you pick your poison. But again, the number one problem with the fight against Washington is the 3-point shot. They have so many excellent 3-point shooters … because you’re so concerned about that speed that you automatically, against your nature, get sucked in, and they’re programed to find those corner 3s. They’re a handful from that standpoint, and on top of that, you got Nene and the big guys running to the rim.”
Wizards coach Randy Wittman also provided a couple of tid-bits in his pregame media session—insight on both tonight’s opponent and the future status of Nene when it comes to being in the starting lineup.
Wittman on what he’s seen out of the Raptors since they traded Rudy Gay and how that compares to when these two teams faced earlier this season (when Gay was still with Toronto):
“Sometimes it happens like that. Rudy Gay being the good player that he is, sometimes when you make a trade like that it loosens up a team. Guys are playing more freely, guys are playing with a little bit more responsibility maybe than they had before, and I think that’s what we’re seeing. [Kyle] Lowry’s playing at a high level… [DeMar] DeRozan… the kid [Terrence] Ross is getting a good opportunity to play a lot more minutes. [John] Salmons has come in via the trade and solidified the bench and so has [Patrick] Patterson. So it’s a well-rounded team, and they’re playing as good as anyone in the league right now.”
Wittman on if Nene coming off the bench might the best long-term solution—for the player and for the team:
“We have to see. He’s a marquee player in our league, and he’s very important for us. As soon as I think … we’ll have to take a hard look at that situation when minutes become more for him. It’s just hard when you’re limited with minutes, especially two guys—he and Bradley [Beal]—to really have them in at the same time. You want to be able to have them in at the right point in the game and trying to manage that. Which, when those things are lifted, we’re going to have to take a look at that. [Nene] is a valuable player for us and has been a starter for us, so when that time comes, we’ll look at that.”