Now that the Wizards are switching on pick-and-rolls between the point guard, shooting guard and small forward, opponents are using it against them more than ever. The Toronto Raptors ran plays for DeMar DeRozan, like the Cleveland Cavaliers did before them with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, to get favorable matchups.
The result was James getting 35 points and a season-high for Irving, who had 32 in just his eighth game of the season in a 121-115 win Wednesday. DeRozan dropped in a season-high 35 in Friday's 97-88 win.
"We wanted to switch pick-and-rolls, one through three. They started to run a lot of plays for him to switch and get in the post," said Wizards shooting guard Garrett Temple, who at 6-6 is their best one-on-one defender. "He was getting to the line again at will."
DeRozan, who at 6-7 was getting the smaller John Wall on him in the mid-post on switches, made 12 of 13 foul shots. In the previous game with Washington, he went 15 of 15.
"We're getting these trends where these wing players have big games and we can't really shut them out," Wizards forward Jared Dudley said. "We have to be able to switch it up."
Meaning, trap the ball and get it out of DeRozan's hands before he makes his move. The Raptors only had 11 assists on 35 field goals so their offense, like Cleveland's, was coming off isolation plays -- something that most NBA teams have gotten away from because isolations tend to bog down offenses -- when they were able to create those mismatches.
"He made some tough shots," Temple said of DeRozan. "We were switching on him a lot of times and getting the matchups that they wanted. We played decent defense at times."
James combined with Irving to shoot 16 of 25 in the second half for Cleveland as they used mostly isolation sets.
"There’s a fine line, when you play isolation ball and it’s inefficient, then you need to figure out something else," James said. "We’re very efficient iso guys, and we’re able to keep everyone in tune at the same time we’re able to get our own."
Fortunately for the Wizards, when they play at the Orlando Magic on Saturday night, they won't be facing a team with players who flourish in isolations. Eventually, however, coach Randy Wittman will have to adjust pending the opponent.
The Wizards attributed a brief turnaround in their play to simplifying their defensive coverages when they were struggling with communication. Now with teams focusing more on getting their best offensive players in one-on-one mismatches on the perimeter, the Wizards have no answers.