Normally we’d break down a play that the Wizards ran for the ‘Play Of The Night’. But, as you know, last night’s loss to the Celtics wasn’t quite normal. Instead, we’ll break down a pretty intelligent deception play from Boston … and in the process, you’ll just happen to see the clueless ways of the Wizards magnified.
This one starts with Rajon Rondo (1) bringing the ball up the middle of the floor. Boston’s bigs, Kevin Garnett (4) and Shaquille O’Neal (5), are posted at the elbows, Paul Pierce (3) is on the right wing, elbow extended, and Ray Allen (2) is on the right block. Since this play took play early in the third quarter, the Wizards’ starters are in: Kirk Hinrich (1), Gilbert Arenas (2), Al Thornton (3), Andray Blatche (4), and JaVale McGee (5).
Out of this set, Rondo uses the pick of Garnett (which Hinrich naturally goes under) to free up space, vision and a passing lane from his position on the left side of the court. As Rondo is moving, Pierce drops just a bit lower from his position. Allen, and here’s the part you could call a deception, has his head and eyes only focused on the Garnett/Rondo action — hence, the guy defending Allen, Arenas, has his defensive horse-blinders on and is only focused in that same direction. In fact, the head of every Wizard is pretty much frozen in the direction of Rondo, including Pierce’s defender, Thornton.
As Garnett turns clockwise to open for a pop out jumper, Pierce starts to cut baseline. Thornton is aware of this cut, but he’s not aware of what’s about to happen, because neither is Arenas. Just after Pierce begins his cut, Allen suddenly turns to screen Thornton. By the time Arenas becomes aware, it’s too late to communicate. Allen sets a great screen on Thornton, who, if he was more aware, would have been able to turn his body in the right direction to trail Pierce. Instead, Thornton turns the wrong way and gets caught up on the screen. Arenas, clearly confused himself, is not in good position to help on Pierce and switch with Thornton. The Wizards are clearly pretty unaware of scouting report action items.
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