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Film study: Mass confusion leads to Wizards' letdowns on defense

Film study: Mass confusion leads to Wizards' letdowns on defense

With 24 hours to digest what went wrong in the Wizards' loss to the Miami Heat, allowing an offensively inept team to score 114 points, coach Scott Brooks saw enough blame to go around with his 3-9 team.

"Seems like it's not one person," Brooks said after Sunday's practice session. "It's the team. ... We have to start the game and end the game with the same mind-set. That's try to get stops."

It started soon after the opening tip of the first quarter:

-- 11:05-10:54: Dion Waiters has too much time to survey the landscape, dribble himself into a rhythm and pull up for the jumper. On first glance, it looks like good position defense but Bradley Beal doesn't pressure him to make him uncomfortable and he cedes too much ground. That creates the space Waiters needs to rise and bury this jumper. The challenge at this point is immaterial. 

-- 9:07-8:58: Beal ices Waiters on this pick-and-roll, sending the ball baseline with Marcin Gortat’s help. Waiters doesn’t panic but accepts the double to expose the defense. No one bumps down on Hassan Whiteside, the roll man, to eliminate his straight-line dive to the basket. He catches the pass over the top in stride with only John Wall to beat. Easy dunk.  If Gortat is going to come out that high on the ball, he has to deny the pass harder with Beal to prevent the pass over the top. Markieff Morris, who reacts too late, has to follow the ball quicker. He’s on the opposite side of the rim and not in position to contest. The likelihood that Whiteside makes the extra pass in that situation isn’t good. Play him for the shot, and if anticipated sooner could be in position to draw a charge.

-- 4:03-3:59: James Johnson curls around a screen from Goran Dragic to get the inbound, attacks the basket and Gortat has to help off of Whiteside. Where's John Wall? He literally stands stationary as the play develops in the paint and offers no help to the big. Johnson loses the ball on the layup attempt and Whiteside cleans up the putback. Better hustle on his play probably negates the bucket and possibly becomes a steal. The Wizards, however, reamained flat-footed and left Gortat on an island.

-- 1:04-0:58: After Tomas Satoransky knocks down a jumper, Dragic makes the push, sells him on the high pick-and-roll with Johnson, turns down the screen and darts by him into the lane. Andrew Nicholson isn’t over in that space in time and isn’t a shot-blocker so he’s compromised. Easy layup just less than 10 seconds after Satoransky’s made basket. Note: Dragic has a clear path to finish with his right hand. He's so left-hand dominant, he makes the shot more difficult than necessary which speaks to his preference to finish with it even if it means a tougher shot. 

-- 0:31-0:27: Johnson easily blows by Porter and to the rim for an uncontested layup. How? It probably caught Porter by surprise but Nicholson provides no frontline help. He waits too late to leave Willie Reed to stop the penetration.

When the first 12 minutes ended, the Heat were trailing 35-33 but shot 13-for-20 (65%). Now let’s fast forward to the mid-point of the second quarter when it was a layup line for Miami:

-- 8:02-7:55: This layup from Johnson, following their second offensive rebound, is opened up by Kelly Oubre leaving his feet. Nicholson isn’t going to get there in time nor is he a shot-blocker. Plus, Whiteside was his priority so there’s no chance here. If Johnson misses, Whiteside probably cleans it up for the easy putback.

-- 7:25-7:15: Rodney McGruder is allowed to take a three (not the worst thing to happen) but Morris, who began to rotate over, gets stuck in space. Wall makes a run out to the shooter and Morris can now get back to his man (Johnson) but instead just watches the ball hit the rim rather than putting a body on him. That gives Johnson a free run to the rim for the putback. Gortat is working to seal Whiteside from the rim here, and he does a good job of getting inside position. He can’t be expected to stop Johnson running full-speed at the rim, too.

-- 1:58-1:51: Waiters gets Satoransky’s feet crossed up and into the middle of the paint. Gortat has to come over to stop the layup and forces the miss. But guess what? Whiteside is able to slip in behind him for the putback because Porter’s only chance was to foul.

The start of the third quarter put the game way. Waiters lived in the paint as did Dragic. When the layups were taken away, the shooters couldn't miss on the kickouts

-- 9:12-8:53: Jason Smith does well on the contact show for this pick-and-roll between Waiters and Williams. But Waiters gets by Beal, who is too soft on recovery. Rather than pressing him immediately, Beal allows Waiters to play with the dribble one bounce from the elbow. Waiters attacks the middle and turns the corner and now he’s at the rim. That draws help from? Gortat, who has to leave Whiteside but he’s not there in time. Layup good.

-- 6:00-5:48: Smith gets caught in a tough spot. He’s not athletic enough to stop the blow by from Williams and doesn’t have support behind him. Statistically, Williams isn’t a good three-point shooter but he has been on fire all game. Smith gives him too much space and Williams dribbles into his rhythm and drains the long ball without even a contest. Normally, Morris would be in this position and able to be more aggressive but he’s out with a right ankle sprain.

-- 2:50-2:41: Dragic goes left ( his strong hand) and gets Satornasky’s feet crossed up again for a layup. He rejects Whiteside’s screen, which he does often. Gortat stays pinned to Whiteside to keep him boxed out, but Satornasky’s 6-7 frame can’t stop the shot at the rim.

The lead for Miami is double-digits here, and any hope the Wizards had of winning this game was gone. Brooks wasn't trying to be diplomatic about their failures. There were tons of breakdowns -- far more than could be listed here -- that led to the outcome.

[RELATED: Wizards' perimeter defense compromises Gortat at rim]

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!