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Film study: This is what defensive IQ and effort look like for Wizards

Film study: This is what defensive IQ and effort look like for Wizards

The three three-point shots from John Wall put the Philadelphia 76ers to bed in the third quarter before it was official 109-93 on Saturday. The type of defensive effort they lacked in the first half, however, was there and it's how the outcome turned. 

When teams such as the Chicago Bulls open a game making 8 of 10 threes, or the Boston Celtics 8 of 11, that second or third effort to recover to shooters is absent. But it was a different story in the second half last night.

These are all defensive plays to show the difference in how contesting shooters can/will alter the accuracy more often than not. It wasn't one player for the Wizards. It was Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat making the wise decisions on when to and when not to fight over screens, anticipate and contest. 

The Sixers shot 50% in the first half en route to 56 points. They shot 33% in the second half for 37 points. 


Make no mistake about Jahlil Okafor. He got his with 26 points on 16 shots. But the problem is he does it to the detriment of his own teammates, often becoming a black hole when he gets the ball anywhere near the paint and killing the ball movement. When the Sixers gave the Wizards difficulty, they were cutting, slicing and using weakside screen action to free scorers. Here, Gortat gets him taking the most difficult shot possible and forcing Okafor to step back:

This is a 2-for-1. Beal goes under Okafor's screen to free Nik Stauskas, taking away the paint for a drive but still being close enough to contest if he decides to pull up from three.

Wall plays soft on T.J. McConnell, who'd prefer to attack the rim rather than pull up. He makes him take the shot he'd least want to take (disregard the error in my tweet, there was no screen) and is able to contest like Beal in the previous example. 

The biggest weakness in Morris' game is his motor, being consistent in his second efforts to get through screens to contest. Ersan Ilyasova, who had 18 points in the first half, didn't score in the second half. He shot 0-for-4. Morris fought off a moving screen by Okafor that wasn't called to contest anyway.

This quick and simple contest by Porter doesn't seem like much but it is. He seeks out the shooter trailing in transtion, the most dangerous option when the rim is closed off. The Wizards did a poor job of this on Stauskas in the first meeting when he shot 6-for-8. He finished 1-for-9, including 0-for-7 from three. 

MORE WIZARDS: By the numbers: Wizards' home streak reaches 11

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Five observations from Wizards' 119-95 blowout win over the Cleveland Cavaliers

Five observations from Wizards' 119-95 blowout win over the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-95 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game.

Finally, a blowout: The Wizards' season so far has been largely defined by them making things harder than they need to be. On Wednesday, it all came together in a game in which they cruised to victory. Finally, they got an easy one.

Sure, it helped they were playing quite possibly the worst team in the NBA. But over the past year, these situations haven't always meant a guaranteed win. The Wizards have a habit of playing down to their opponents and, for once, they did not.

The Wizards led by as many as 27 points in this one. They scored 41 in the first quarter, their most in an opening frame since 2014. Though the Cavs made it slightly interesting in the third quarter, the Wizards were essentially in complete control from start to finish.

Important rest: The Wizards haven't blown out teams often since the beginning of last season. At least, they haven't had many games so lopsided their starters could take the end of the night off.

Last season, they won by 20 or more points just three times. Considering there were 168 such games in the NBA last year, that isn't a whole lot.

Against the Cavs on Wednesday, the Wizards only needed to play John Wall 21 minutes. Bradley Beal played 28, Otto Porter Jr. 26, Markieff Morris 21 and Dwight Howard 20. It was a stress-free victory and every team needs those every once in a while.

Welcome to the league, rook: The box score will show that Cavs' rookie guard Collin Sexton had a big night offensively. The No 8 overall pick in the 2018 draft scored 24 points and shot a solid 9-for-16 from the field and looks like an excellent building block for Cleveland.

But a closer look reveals Sexton had a bit of a 'welcome to the league, rookie' game. Wall and Beal ate him alive on defense and forced him into four turnovers, all in the first half, with relative ease.

There was one play that exemplified Sexton's night against Wall, in particular. Wall got to the rim on an and-1 play that saw Sexton turn all sorts of ways as he tried to stay in front of the five-time All-Star:

That's a brand of sauce Sexton had probably never seen before.

Depth on display: The Cavs are so bad without Kevin Love, that big picture conclusions can't be drawn from the success teams have against them. That said, the Wizards showed an impressive level of depth on Wednesday.

Their core bench players all registered double-digit plus-minus ratings. All five members of their second unit - Tomas Satoransky, Austin Rivers, Kelly Oubre Jr., Jeff Green and Ian Mahinmi - scored eight points or more.

One category of stats tells the story best and it involves Wall. The Wizards' star only scored eight points in 21 minutes. He shot 3-of-10 from the field and had three turnovers.

The Wizards had not won a game with Wall scoring eight points or fewer since 2014. They hadn't won with him playing 21 minutes or fewer since 2013.

Wall has been so important to their success over the years that they rarely win when he has off-nights. They haven't won when he's put up numbers that bad in years. 

Yes, it's the Cavs. But the Wizards have the depth now to be less reliant on Wall. That's a good thing for everyone.

Mahinmi hit a three!: Wizards fans who showed up on Wednesday night saw something no other NBA fans had ever seen before. You could say they saw history.

That's because Mahinmi, playing in his 11th season, made his first ever three-point shot. Yes, that's right. After missing his first 10 career attempts, Mahinmi finally got one to go down.

It was a special moment, particularly on Twitter, where the phrase 'Ma3nmi' could be used for the very first time during a regular season game.

All kidding aside, Mahinmi deserves some legitimate credit here. He worked diligently over the summer and all throughout the preseason to develop a game-ready three-point shot. At the end of every Wizards practice and shootaround, he can be seen taking shot after shot from long range.

Despite having already played a decade in the NBA, Mahinmi is still adding to his game. Even his biggest critics should be able to appreciate that.

Ironically, on the night Mahinmi hit his first three, Beal made his 900th.


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Bradley Beal becomes youngest player in NBA history to reach 900 career 3-pointers

Bradley Beal becomes youngest player in NBA history to reach 900 career 3-pointers

Before Wednesday's Wizards-Cavs game, J.R. Smith held the record for youngest NBA player to reach 900 career 3-pointers. 

With 4:31 left in the opening quarter. Bradley Beal caught a pass from Otto Porter and knocked down his 900th career triple

The 25-year-old is a career 39 percent 3-point shooter. Through 13 games this season, Beal is stroking it at 34 percent, but scoring in a variety of ways this season with an average of over 22 points per game. 

Washington is looking for its third consecutive win.