Film study: Comprehensive defensive collapse in Wizards' latest loss

/ by J. Michael
Presented By Wizards

The Orlando Magic, a team that has scored less than 90 points eight times this season, went 31 above their average with 124 against the Wizards.

Was it the second unit, which has taken a lion’s share of the blame in what is now a 7-13 record, or leaky perimeter defense? It’s everything, and that includes rim protection, having botching concepts on coverage of the side pick-and-roll by the frontline and a bunch of other stuff.

There are tons of examples, far too many to list all of them, but this is just a sample of the bad and the ugly. Defensively, there wasn’t any good. And note, ALL of this is just from the first half when the game got away and Orlando scored 65 points:

Free runs like this from Evan Fournier, even on a play that looks destined to fail, as he gets nothing but space to run with a full head of steam off a screen and at Andrew Nicholson in space. Nicholson lacks the lateral movement or shot-blocking to have a chance and Marcus Thornton can't disrupt him from turning into the lane over that screen, either.

Everyone is a step behind on this one. Otto Porter nor Marcin Gortat can stop Fournier on this. The only contact made is Vucevic rolling to the basket — the offensive player — as he bumps Porter. That makes this pass over the top easy and then the extra pass to the hot-handed Elfrid Payton easy for the open three. 

Again, call it indecisive, confused or just slow to reaction. Jason Smith has to make an aggressive decision here to trap the ball ot bump down hard on Vucevic. Smith doesn't even get his hands up/extended to make this pocket pass from Jeff Green difficult. It's simply too much space for the Magic to operate. The ball gets to Vucevic who makes the extra pass to Payton spotting up. 

The ice concept is simple: Send the ball baseline on the side pick-and-roll. Trey Burke does that but Nicholson is slow/late and gives Payton the baseline rather than using it as a third defender to stop the ball and forced the ball out. Instead, Payton is allowed to manipulate the defense inside the lane and get it to Bismack Biyombo, Nicholson's man, who roams freely. He misses but the collapse of the defense allows Payton the easy putback. 

This is an offensive disaster that leads to a three-point play for Green. The Marcus Thornton/Smith screen-roll action, whether its run on the side or high, has rarely produced a good shot. Usually, the results are something like this.


This three from Jodie Meeks is a product of Burke playing too soft on Payton (see the separation before he makes his drive) and that collapses the defense and Bradley Beal tries to help off the hot hand. Markieff Morris appears to be in position to help and stop Payton at the rim so Beal could've stayed home. But this is why stopping dribble penetration is so important. It can force teammates to actually over-help, or just help off the wrong guy.

John Wall stays with Payton, but he gets too deep and he's not in position to contest. Nicholson, however, is but he's not a shot-blocker. If Ian Mahinmi were healthy, he'd be in this position and could've prevented this look, but he's played just once because of issues with both knees.

Burke clearly thinks Smith is up on his man, Vucevic, as he's coming to screen. Payton recognizes, however, that Smith is stuck and unable to get away from Green's screen so he turns it down and goes baseline because there will be no help or containment from a big. This appears to be more of a communication thing but Burke is sending the ball in the right direction. They're not on the same page, especially with Smith.

After they played the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, the Magic went back to who they really are offensively. They scored just 87 points in a 30-point loss. 

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