Breaking The Wall Down: Toronto Raptors Stifle The Washington Wizards

NBA: New Orleans Hornets at Toronto Raptors


Brick after brick after brick, the Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 96-88 last night. They turned the ball over 16 times including eight times in the first quarter. They allowed the Raptors to destroy them with points off of turnovers, and they only shot 38.5% from the field.

That’s obviously a losing formula, but how did it happen? The Wizards were just winners of four straight before dropping two consecutive games to the Pistons and the Raptors–two subpar teams in the NBA right now.

The Raptors did all of the dirty work defensively last night. They took away everything that the Wizards like to do. Everyone knows that the Wizards are short on shooting and the Raptors exploited that last night. They gave up 6-15 three points shots to Washington and allowed them to shoot 40% from that range, but that was all by design. They baited John Wall into going 1-12 from the field last night and gave him no other options.

They took the Wizards gameplan of using cross screening and penetration and combined that with terrible spacing and counters by the Wizards to beat them in this slopfest. The first thing that I want to show you is how the Raptors used cross screening to ultimately beat the Wizards. The Wizards primarily run baseline cross screen action when John Wall is in the game to keep the defense occupied on him as a slasher. The Raptors took the bait but they did the opposite with it. Instead of sticking with John Wall as he ran through the paint and into the screen, whoever was assigned to him stuck to the paint.

The Wizards bigs aren’t guys who can shoot the ball. They’re going to stick close to the paint and if they don’t you can get a good contest in or at least live with them taking a 10-15 foot jump shot. That’s what happened last night. Take a look at the photos that I’m about to show you.


Here I’ve labeled where each player went. Emeka Okafor sets a halfhearted screen on John Lucas, III and he’s allowed to keep composure instead of trying to find his man. Okafor goes about two feet over and sticks to the right block. John Wall doesn’t run all the way out of the paint from the screen. He sits baseline and tries to get the ball after Seraphin catches it.

This is a play that the Wizards run often. Wall will get the ball on the baseline and try to get to the rim while all attention is on the ball. At the worst, he’s going to get it to Okafor who is waiting at the rim. The problem here is that the passing lane will be taken away for Seraphin. Take a look at this next shot.


When Seraphin makes his next move, he’s virtually pushed John Wall out of the paint and left three Raptors in it. Wall is forced to go out of bounds and doesn’t make the right decision to go out to the corner and possibly reset. Its a perfect example of bad spacing and bad decision making on the part of the Wizards.

Take a look at this pick and roll fiasco by Emeka Okafor and John Wall. John Wall takes the pick from Okafor and tries to penetrate the paint. Instead of giving him the space to do so, Okafor gets into his driving lane.


Because Okafor is in that driving lane, Wall has nowhere to go with the ball and ends up putting up a half-hearted floated. Two Raptors where there to defend that play because of the bad spacing from Okafor.


These are just only two examples of such mishaps, but they were happening all night. The Raptors confused the Wizards and put them in scenarios in which they could not be successful. They took advantage of their lack of shooters and their offensively challenged lineups and made them pay for it through defense.

I wouldn’t say that the Wizards blew this game because they had plenty of chances to win it. The Raptors forcing them into bad places won the game. John Wall didn’t shoot one of 12 because he was taking awful shots. He shot that badly because that was all that was available to him. The Raptors did an excellent job of letting the Wizards’ weaknesses take over on offense.


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