Balanced attack tips scoring advantage Wizards' way

Balanced attack tips scoring advantage Wizards' way
April 24, 2014, 7:30 pm
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(Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Bulls finished second in field goal percentage defense this season. Those only watching them play the Washington Wizards might not realize such things.

Led by center Joakim Noah, the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year, the Bulls held opponents to 43 percent from the field.

The Wizards have shot at least 47 percent from the field in four of the five meetings this season, including both playoff games. Washington finished the regular season making 45.9 percent of its attempts. In two postseason games, the Wizards are at 48.1 percent.

One reason for the shooting success - or the Bulls' struggles - involves Washington's varied scoring options.

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In three of their four wins over Chicago this season, including Game 1, Washington had six players score in double figures.

The Wizards only had four players tally 10 or more points in Tuesday's Game 2 over win. Bradley Beal had 26 points, the most scored by any Wizard against the Bulls this season. However all seven players that received at least nine minutes scored seven or more points. 

In Chicago's lone victory over Washington this season, 96-78 in D.C. on April 5, the Wizards had only three players score more than 10 points.

"It's obviously a strength of ours," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the team's offensive balance following Thursday's practice at the Verizon Center. "We're not relying upon one or two guys to carry the load."

Led by Noah's mobility, swingman Jimmy Butler's aggression and coach Tom Thibodeau's strategy, the Bulls can typically cover most scoring threats inside or out. However, it's obvious playing say the Oklahoma City Thunder that defending Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is a must. Same with the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, same with the Miami Heat and LeBron James even with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade around.

While John Wall deserves and receives plenty of defensive attention, the Wizards have others ready to carry the attack. Six players scored at least 30 points in a game this season and nine tallied at least 19.

"That's to our advantage. We have a lot of weapons on this team," Trevor Ariza said. "Everybody has been very patient. Everybody has been ready. That's all we've got to do. When they take our other options away, we go in another direction."

They've had to at times considering Wall and Beal's overall shooting struggles. The pair combined to make 22 of 60 (36.7 percent) attempts in Chicago. Meanwhile Nene (19 of 30), Andre Miller (8 of 12) and Ariza (5 of 11 3-pointers) are knocking down shots.

From the head coach's perspective, scoring depth combined with ball movement and efficiency is the formula. The Wizards are averaging only 10 turnovers per game with an offensive rating of 108.7 points per 100 possessions. During the regular season, Washington averaged 14.7 turnovers with a 103.3 offensive rating.

"We move the ball, make the simple plays. We haven't turned the ball over," Wittman said. "We haven't tried to make the home run play. We haven't tried to do things out of character. We can't do that now."

The Wizards also haven't been caught up in getting any specific shot. 

"If they want to take that away, fine,"Wittman continued. "Then make them pay the other way."