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.
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