Tonight’s Play of the Game comes courtesy of Andray Blatche, for obvious reasons.
This play led to the two free throws that lifted the Washington Wizards to their first win of the season. But, but it was also a variation of a play that Flip Saunders had called a number of times tonight.
While the play gives Kirk Hinrich an option for an open mid-range jumper (or even a three-pointer) coming around an off-ball screen, it is designed to isolate Blatche in the post. Blatche is typically quicker and more agile than most power forwards, so the isolation situation offers the Wizards a great scoring opportunity.
The best part about this play was that instead of settling for a jump shot like he’s already done several times this season, Blatche took the ball to the hole. I guess he is finally ready to listen to his coaches and get his “big butt down [in the post].” Andray knows that he has to be more physical and be the Wizards’ low-post scoring option.
In anticipation of tonight’s Wizards game against the 76ers in Philadelphia, I exchanged some questions with Carey Smith of Philadunkia, the ESPN TrueHoop Network Sixers blog.
I answered a question from Carey about the Wizards’ struggles in general, and attempted to encapsulate the season’s problems in a nutshell. I also answered a question about Eddie Jordan and defense, which I spoke with the coach about when the Sixers played in D.C. on December 22nd.
In the previous entry, I touched on the Wizards post-game locker room atmosphere after beating the Sixers. Thinking about the game again last night and this morning led me to pause … they were really, really close to losing another heart breaker. Momentum really could have shifted had Lou Williams hit that wide open corner three, which would have given the Sixers a 100-98 lead, potentially capping a 10-2 Philly run since Eddie Jordan called a timeout after Caron Butler’s big dunk.
But thankfully, Williams’ shot was off, the Wizards made their free-throws, and the Sixers made some mental errors (fouling down three with 34 seconds left? … what was that?). It could have been a much different locker room, one that wasn’t seemingly so naively content with a single win.
And that’s why I’m a tad excited for tonight’s game in Milwaukee, just another chance to see what the Wizards are made of. I’ll have more on the Philly game to come. But until then, below the video highlights are several links of interest.
It was easy to deduce that a certain jovial nature had returned to the Wizards’ clubhouse, one that had the DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg display a sense of giddiness as he exited the locker room after Tuesday’s win against Philadelphia.
Of course, this mostly started with the release of the team’s biggest character, Gilbert Arenas, which was thus reflected upon the team’s biggest smiley goofball, Nick Young.
The latest theme involved Young being placed in a box, on a shelf, to just gather dust. Now, who exactly placed Young in said box could be debated. It would be easy to assume that it was completely at the behest of the coaches. But given the amount and nature of chances Nick has been given this season, it’s better to conclude that he placed himself in the box. The coaches simply sealed him up with a minimal amount of tape.
Wizards fans now hope that Tuesday’s game wasn’t just Nick taking a peak out of the box and that he will jump out feet first. If he keeps playing disciplined defense like he did against Philly, and limits unnecessary dribbles, there’s no reason to believe why Young can’t mature as a third year player and build on his most recent effort.
Overall, I was impressed by the Wizards’ performance in Philadelphia on Tuesday night (aside from the ending), especially in response to Flip Saunders openly calling the team out on a disappointing performance in Atlanta on Monday. But …
The Wizards need to improve on defense, right? From watching Tuesday’s game, I was able to make some observations on focus and technique in areas where some individuals can stand to improve. I’ve illustrated these observation in screen shots below.
Caron Butler’s on Defensive Focus
Caron wants to be a better defender? Well, there are some simple things he could be doing that he’s not doing. Let’s illustrate … Read more »