Former Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan is a well-respected teacher of the Princeton offense. The Los Angeles Lakers previously ran an offshoot of the scheme, the Triangle offense, under Phil Jackson, but went away from that approach last season under Jackson's replacement Mike BrownSeeing as Brown is a defense-oriented kind of guy, it makes sense that he would bring in some assistance for the other end of the court as the Lakers look to reassert themselves as the Western Conference team to beat. Considering Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, both well versed in the Triangle, remain central figures in the Lakers attack, moving back closer toward the team's championship winning roots is a logical approach.Reportshave Jordan on the verge of heading to the left coast to join Brown's staff -- along with another ex-Washington coach, Bernie Bickerstaff. The Jordan rumors have existed for a bit and there is nothing peculiar about such an addition - except when you factor in the player changes the Lakers executed this summer.Ball-dominant point guard Steve Nash and pick-and-roll friendly center Dwight Howard are joining the Lakers. The Princeton approach attacks defenses with motion and spacing. Generally speaking, you don't implement such a plan with a pure distributor like Nash and a Howard's strengths are in his massive shoulders and arms, not his high-post passing.If indeed Jordan's presence is as shaper of the offense, then on the surface the situation appears odd to some of us, including ProBasketballTalk.com's Kurt Helin."The Princeton offense wants a center that can both score in the post, is a deft passer and is a threat to knock down a 16-foot jumper from the elbow. That describes Pau Gasol perfectly. Kobe could work off cuts and curls to get catch-and-shoot looks that will be more reminiscent of what he got out of the triangle, the offense Kobe won five rings running."But where do Steve Nash and Dwight Howard fit in? Those two are a natural and deadly pick-and-roll combination, and Nashs shooting is a needed part of the Princeton offense. But the fits are not as natural."Will the Lakers run a hybrid Princeton? Use it some trips down and not others? Run pick-and-roll and up-tempo offense early in the clock and settle into a Princeton set (which Phil Jackson had the Lakers do for a couple years with the triangle)?"Two players on the Lakers are certainly familiar with Jordan's approach; Ex-Wizards Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake. Jamison, signed as a free agent this offseason, is projected as the Lakers primary scoring reserve while Blake will battle Chris Duhon for playing time behind Nash.No doubt based on talent - and star power - the Lakers are truly in the NBA Championship hunt and arguably stand as the best team in West if not the entire league. How the coaching staff ultimately decides to implement all the varied skill sets (and egos) remains the X's and O's question.Ben Standig blogs about the Redskins, Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C.area college basketball scene for CSNwashington. You can reach him by email at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter @BenStandig and catch his musings at the D.C. Sportalistand his fantasy football thoughts at FFToolbox.com.
Perhaps Toronto and their fans would disagree, but through two games the first round playoff series between the Wizards and Raptors had been relatively uneventful, maybe even boring to the casual observer. For those who have watched the Wizards in recent years, something just seemed off with them.
Not only were Bradley Beal and Otto Porter struggling to score, but the energy and grit we're used to from the Wizards in the postseason just wasn't there. Three minutes into Game 3 on Friday night, that all changed.
Wizards forward Markieff Morris got tangled with Raptors rookie OG Anunoby and fell to the ground. He rose up, shoved Anunoby and gave Serge Ibaka a push for good measure. It cost Morris a technical, but he wasn't ejected. From there, the tone was set.
This was to be a physical game and the Wizards were going to make sure of it. That's how they prefer to play and that nastiness had been missing thus far in this series.
"I think OG [Anunoby] did not know the scouting report because he did not know that Keef is one of the people you do not mess with in this world," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He will learn.”
The fireworks didn't end there. Beal and Jonas Valanciunas got into it and so did John Wall and Anunoby, and then Wall and Ibaka.
The Wizards made a name for themselves in the 2016-17 season when they won 49 games and were one win away from the conference finals as a team that would instigate contact and talk trash. They prided themselves on being old school in that regard and were praised for it by former NBA tough guys like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson.
This season, they just haven't been able to do it as often.
"We have been there at spurts throughout the year, we just have not been there consistently," Oubre said. "Now it is do or die. We just need to bring that Death Row mentality.”
Oubre also joked that rapper Drake started it all by sitting courtside in Toronto and talking trash. Truthfully, their backs were against the wall and they had no choice but to punch back.
The Wizards entered Friday's game down 0-2 to the Raptors with Game 2 a dispirited blowout. If they went down 0-3, they would essentially have been dead in the water. No team has come back from that deficit in NBA history.
This time, they weren't going to go down without a fight.
"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]," center Marcin Gortat said. "If you see your teammate fighting, I'm going to fight with him. That's the bottom-line."
"We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves," Beal said. "Keef is a bully... we are physical team."
As for Morris, the enforcer himself, he let his actions speak for themselves. He didn't take the bait on most questions, but did wear a 'Death Row D.C.' shirt during his media availability. Morris came up with that nickname last season to convey the toughness he wants the Wizards to play with.
"We need some physicality," Morris said. "I feel like when we were in Toronto, they were doing everything too freely. This kind of set the tone for the whole series... we need to keep our same mean mentality. If they wanna fight, we will fight."
The Wizards fought the Hawks and Celtics last year tooth-and-nail and often used physical play to their advantage. It worked in Game 3 against the Raptors. Now the Wizards will have to counter however Toronto chooses to respond.
MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:
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The Washington Wizards wasted no time in their playoff return to Capital One Arena to jump back into this series. Now behind 2-1 to the Toronto Raptors, Washington is back in the series. Here are the top moments from the 122-103 win:
1. It got physical early.
Is it bad luck to bring back #DeathrowDC? It only took the Wizards and Markieff Morris three minutes to get into a shoving match with OG Anunoby and the Raptors. Double technicals were both issued after this scuffle but it set the tone for the remainder of the game. From here the Wizards exerted their physicality.
2. Kelly Oubre providing the spark off the bench
Early on it was creeping toward another outstanding Raptors offensive performance, like we saw in Game 1 and Game 2. They were up 27-18 with two minutes left in the first quarter. Once the bench got their first opportunity to get into the game, Kelly Oubre Jr. provided that spark to get back the Wizards into it. In the midst of a 14-2 run from the first going into the second quarter, Oubre had four of his 13 points, including a monstrous dunk off of a loose ball.
3. Beal to Wall, back to Beal
For those that do not believe that John Wall and Bradley Beal are two of the best passers in the league, look no further than this play. Not only does Beal thread the needle, but Wall has the wherewithal to get the ball back to Beal for the lay-in.
4. A fire was lit under John Wall
It wasn’t just the double-double (28 points, 14 assists), playoff John Wall is officially back. He made that evident with countless hustle plays especially on defense to turn this game around. Moments later, the Wizards pushed the lead up to 20 for the first time and had Capital One Arena rocking.
5. Ty Lawson’s buzzer-beater
When playing the Raptors, you can never rule out a comeback. Throughout the third quarter Toronto kept nipping at the Wizards’ lead, but newly acquired Ty Lawson shut down any threat of that heading into the fourth.