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Film study: Raptors rely heavily on pick-and-roll aka Wizards' Kryptonite

Film study: Raptors rely heavily on pick-and-roll aka Wizards' Kryptonite

The season is young, but the Toronto Raptors remain a tough assignment to crack for the Wizards as long as they have All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in the backcourt.

They open at home tonight. While the Wizards (0-2) look drastically different and easily could be undefeated, the Raptors (2-1) look very similar and as offensively potent as ever. 

  • Almost everything offensively involves a pick-and-roll action. Jonas Valanciunas’ first two baskets came off screen-rolls with Lowry. Easily 90%+ of their plays in the first quarter of their win Monday vs. the Denver Nuggets, even if it didn't begin with a screen set by Valanciunas, ended with one. 


  • Can’t play too soft on the pick-and-roll with DeRozan because he’s not a deep threat to shoot. The book on covering him is to go under the screen, but that doesn't mean the big on the switch should sag deep. Allow DeRozan momentum by playing too soft where he can get a few dribbles into the lane for the pull up, and it’s basically a layup. His rhythm has to be disrupted by the big leveling him off coming off that screen. Get his momentum going away from the basket. Not towards it.


  • Valanciunas screens early and often for DeRozan, be it on ball or off-ball. Double-team DeRozan with anyone other than a big and he can still get off the shot.


  • When Cory Joseph is on the floor with Lowry, the starting point guard, the former will run a lot of the offense. Lowry is a 20 percent three-point shooter but that number will come up. He's much better than that. He's not to be left unmarked.


  • When Terrence Ross enters, the offense is more prone to taking quick, low-percentage shots. He's still dangerous off the catch on corner 3s, and can be very good or bad for them. He feasts on spot ups.


  • On side out-of-bounds plays, if DeRozan makes the thrown in, rest assured Valanciunas will try to set a backscreen on his defender to free him to get to the ball so he can isolate on the weakside of the floor and go to work. There's nothing but open space and the defender is on an island with DeRozan.


  • When the Raptors have four up and one down (DeRozan), they’ll send a screener to the ball up top but the purpose of this is to bring the attention to the strongside of the floor, stack the weakside with two bigs and free up DeRozan to get the ball on the reversal. If the shot isn't there, then flow into a pick-and-roll.


  • Valanciunas rarely goes straight up with his jump shot. He almost always will pump fake first (a la Dwyane Wade). This is where Marcin Gortat has to show discipline and not bite. 


  •  DeRozan will be used as a decoy with Lowry handling the ball, running to the weakside in front of the high-post bigs in a horns set. Valanciunas will set the screen and dive to the basket while the other big in horns, Patrick Patterson, pops to the arc for the three.

[RELATED: Recovering Mahinmi '17 days out' from returning to Wizards]

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Wizards host students from Stoneman Douglas High School ahead of 'March For Our Lives'

Wizards host students from Stoneman Douglas High School ahead of 'March For Our Lives'

With a march on Washington planned for this weekend following the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were invited by the Wizards to attend their Friday morning practice at Capital One Arena.

About 20 of the kids showed up to watch the Wizards practice, took pictures with players, got a tour of the facilities and walked away with Wizards hats and gear. It was a small break away from what has been a tumultous time ever since the massacre at their school on Feb. 14.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis was on hand to speak with the students, who are set to lead the 'March For Our Lives' through downtown Washington on Saturday.


Wizards guard Bradley Beal met with the media after taking photos with the students.

"For us to be able to take their mind off of it for just a few minutes is always a great feeling," Beal said. "At the end of the day, we're all human beings regardless of our careers are and what our jobs are. A lot of us have families, kids, brothers and sisters. The last thing that you want to happen is what happened to several of those families. You can never imagine."

Beal went to college in Florida and has participated in his own forms of activism. He has found inspiration in the efforts by Stoneman Douglas students. They have taken what happened to their school as a catalyst for what they hope produces change in the ability to protect similar attacks from happening again.


Beal, 24, finds that admirable.

"It's amazing sometimes to learn from the youth on how to do things," Beal said. "It's a testament to where our world needs to lead to, to where we need to get to and to come together as a society. It starts with us as the younger generation. We've gotta come together with love and do things like this. I think what they're doing is awesome. It's spreading positive vibes and it's true humanitarian work that they're doing."

The Stoneman Douglas students are expected to attend Friday night's Wizards-Nuggets game as well.

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Bradley Beal sees Phil Chenier's jersey retirement as something to strive for

Bradley Beal sees Phil Chenier's jersey retirement as something to strive for

The relationship between Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and Bullets legend Phil Chenier goes beyond your average friendship between a current and former player, or a current player and team broadcaster.

Beal and Chenier are close to the point Chenier often offers advice as a fellow shooting guard who helped lead the organization to some of their most important accomplishments.

Beal is always open ears when Chenier is talking and took great honor in being the one to tell Chenier personally that his jersey would be retired by the Wizards.

The day has come for Chenier's No. 45 to be raised to the rafters and Beal feels a unique sense of pride in seeing a man he reveres to the highest degree finally have his day in the sun.

"It's unbelievable. It's more than deserving," Beal said. "I was happy to be the one who told him about it. It's a special night for him. He's been a mentor to a lot of us for many years."


Chenier was a three-time All-Star for the Washington Bullets back in the 1970s. Following his playing career, he became a legendary broadcaster calling Bullets and then Wizards games for over 30 years.

Beal is now an NBA All-Star himself, having earned the honor for the first time this season. He is a shooting guard, just like Chenier.

Chenier was the color analyst for Wizards games for the first five years of Beal's career and Beal has always seen Chenier as a model to follow both on and off the court.

"It's always motivation for me to get better and I feel like this is the final touch of it, having your jersey retired by the franchise that you played a part in their success," Beal said.


The honor Chenier is about to receive is another goal to strive for. Beal wants to achieve a lot of what Chenier has accomplished in his life from winning a championship to making All-NBA to now having his jersey hang in the rafters at Capital One Arena.

"It definitely motivates me for that to be a goal of mine. Especially with the fact we both play the same position," Beal said.


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For more on Chenier's jersey retirement, check out our in-depth interview with him on the Wizards Tipoff podcast: