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Breaking down Wizards' defensive excellence in win vs. Bucks

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Breaking down Wizards' defensive excellence in win vs. Bucks

Defensively, the Wizards look like a different team than the one that was shredded in three consecutive losses by an average of 20 points a game. Tuesday's domination of the Milwaukee Bucks is further proof that the fast-pace offense they're running shouldn't have a negative impact on their defense. In fact, if done correctly, they'll be able to get easier baskets and put them in transition with John Wall.

It's not just the starters and stars but role players off the bench who are reading and reacting the right way now that coach Randy Wittman has moved to simplify coverages. The rules of thumb: Get beat baseline and it's on the bigs; get beat in the middle of the floor and it's on the perimeter players.

 

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Greivis Vasquez inbounds the ball to Greg Monroe, who puts the ball on the floor against Gortat just inside the three-point arc. As he gets into the low post, Jared Dudley (from behind) and Garrett Temple (over top) make him pick up his dribble. Dudley's man, Johnny O'Bryant is on the weak side under the basket and there's no real passing angle. Plus Ramon Sessions is lingering in the paint to pick it off. The ball instead goes out to Khris Middleton, who Temple was originally covering. Middleton gets to the baseline but Marcin Gortat is there to seal off his dribble penetration while Temple is there to make an interior pass back to Monroe difficult. Dudley comes off O'Bryant again to cut off Monroe's angle to the basket. While Monroe gets the ball back, Dudley is in position to tie him up for a jump ball. The Wizards took away three-quarters of the floor on this possession, rendering Vasquez and Jerryd Bayless on the perimeter irrelevant.  

 

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Otto Porter picks up Bayless bringing up the ball. Gortat, who his covering Monroe, anticipates a back screen from Middleton, curls around it and gets back to Monroe on the low block. The Bucks fail to force a switch as a result where they could've gotten Temple on Monroe. Temple's trail technique here is perfect as he follows Middleton across the lane and avoids a flare screen from Giannis Antetokounmpo to take away a potential skip pass to the weak side of the floor for a corner three. Gortat shows on Michael Carter-Williams in the pick-and-roll. Porter comes off the nail to help stop Monroe rolling to the basket. Monroe gets the ball back but it's 18 feet away facing up Gortat. Porter shifts back to Bayless on the arc but maintaining his spot on the nail. Monroe sets a screen on Porter to free Bayless but Gortat steps up. Temple goes 2-for-1 on this coverage. He dives in on Bayless and Monroe, who don't have the best spacing, to clog the middle to assist Gortat's coverage. Bayless kicks the ball out to Middleton for a contested three as Temple has a hand in his face to force the shot long. This results in a three-pointer for Wall on the other end.

 

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Antetokounmpo gets the rebound and brings the ball up the floor. John Wall is the first man to pick him up so the Bucks' 6-10 guard/forward starts to immediately back him down for a high-percentage shot. Recognizing that there's no help behind Wall, Nene leaves John Henson who is not in the play and immediately goes over to double-team him because Antetokounmpo has a six-inch height advantage. That forces him to give up the ball to Vasquez as Nene gets back to Henson, who is being shaded by Dudley. Notice that Dudley also has O'Bryant behind him so he's not committed fully to either player and wisely so. He holds up a potential entry pass to Henson just long enough for Nene to get back on his man. With Nene fully recovered on his man, Vasquez goes back to Antetokounmpo who catches the ball at the three-point arc. He goes to the mid-post again with his dribble to back down Wall and Nene returns from the backside for support. Ramon Sessions shows and then darts back up to to cover Vasquez, realizing that Nene and Wall have the ball contained. This forces the ball out of Antetokounmpo's hands again as he dribbles back out to the arc and slings the ball to Middleton on the weak side spotting up on the arc. Gary Neal almost falls asleep watching the ball, but he recovers to contest the three-point shot that was long. This was good help defense all around. And when the shot goes up, Nene boxes out the closest man to him (O'Bryant) for the rebound while Dudley switches to seal Henson from the rim. This is vintage Nene. He recognizes Wall's predicament and makes the right decision before Milwaukee can take full advantage.

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS