The weakness in the Wizards when John Wall isn't on the floor, or even when he is, is that their shooters have difficult creating their own shots off the dribble minus Bradley Beal.
The L.A. Clippers had the personnel surround Wall in 108-91 in part because of an athletic, rim protection like DeAndre Jordan. They would sink in on his penetration to form a wall and dart out to the perimeter to run shooters off the arc. They also switched defensively to close the distance on shooters.
With Beal still weeks away from returning from the latest stress reaction in his lower right leg, the Wizards (14-15) just aren't as adept at hitting shots on the move.
Jarell Eddie, who made four consecutive three-point shots in a win over the weekend vs. the Brooklyn Nets, was 2-for-7 from deep; Garrett Temple 0-for-4; Kris Humphries 0-for-2; and Jared Dudley 0-for-1.
Tonight, the Wizards will have to contend with the Toronto Raptors who have Bismarck Biyombo policing the middle. When they lost 84-82 to them earlier this season on a buzzer-beater from Cory Joseph, Biyombo didn't score but had 16 rebounds, four blocks and altered countless shots inside the paint.
"We were moreso focused on defense," Eddie said about Tuesday's practice, before the Wizards left for Toronto. "(The Clippers) really hurt us in pick-and-roll. Not having our help man over on the weakside."
The coverage by the Wizards was inadequate for the first time in a while and it's why Chris Paul (23 points, 7 assists in 27 minutes) and Jordan (15 points, 13 rebounds in 28) had such an easy time. There was poor recognition of when to help and when not to help.
For instance, if Luc Mbah a Moute (0 points in 19 minutes) was spotting up on the weak side for the catch-and-shoot, the Wizards had to force the ball out of Paul's hands, collapse on Jordan and take their chances with Mbah a Moute. Instead, they stayed at home on him while allowing Jamal Crawford (21 points) to roam free.
"Offensively we went over some plays of when teams start switching or teams start icing and different concepts," said Dudley, the latter part a reference to forcing the ball away from the screener who in most cases would be Marcin Gortat and allows the defense to momentarily defend two with one. "What it came down to for us is a little bit of communication and not knowing personnel out there."
Though the Raptors aren't as athletic in the middle so the Wizards won't have to worry as much about the ball going over the top, their backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have shredded the Wizards' pick-and-roll coverage in past seasons.
This is why being better much defensively than they were vs. the Clippers is so important and both issues raised are connected. When the Wizards' defense leads to transition baskets and clean looks while the opponent is in scramble mode in the open court, it alleviates pressure from the offense and Wall having to create everything.
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