Sam Mitchell was a simple man who preferred to explain things in simple terms. Terms that everyone could understand, most of all him. So when it came down to providing expositions of particular outcomes, Mitchell liked to boil it down to “shats”. You either made a shat, or you didn’t make a shat, and all outcomes could be traced back to whether you had the ability to make some shats. The demand for making shots was always high and when that demand was met, the Raptors won. The supply-side economics were a bit more complicated because how so many shats could be sourced efficiently was a problem that never seemed to go away.
Not in Game 1 though. There was no issue of shats not following to the tune of 16-30 from three – all 16 threes below, hope you enjoy this video as much as I did making it:
When a team shoots like that there is a tendency for the shats to paper over the cracks that would turn into craters were it not for the aforementioned shats following. Now, I firmly believe the Raptors are a better team than the Wizards across the board and, ceteris paribus, will be just fine. They have more clearly defined roles, a sound rotation policy, and more balanced units which reduce dependencies on their big guns, thus making the offense harder to defend. The Wizards are a known quantity and there is no secret to what they’ll be running. It’ll either be a John Wall pick ‘n roll, staggered screens for Bradley Beal, and most recently, a semblance of some post-up opportunities for Markieff Morris. Yet, they did have success which needs to be accounted for in the Raptors books before Game 2.
The pick ‘n roll is Washington’s bread and butter, mainly because of Wall’s ability to either find the right pass to the big, or drive and kick to the wings. His decision-making in that split second when the roll man’s guy is on him for a moment is impeccable, and let him rack up 15 assists. These plays are acceptable to me because you’re not going to stop everything the Wizards do, and conceding to Wall’s quickness advantage here is tantamount to giving up on Atlantic Avenue in Monopoly if the guy’s got the other two yellow pieces. You can’t have ‘em all.
There’s also Bradley Beal who had a fairly efficient 19 points on 8-17 shooting, but it’s questionable whether it was really impactful. Here’s his shotchart:
That’s 2-6 from threes, with the video of all six attempts here:
Other than the second three which was on a break, all other looks were well-defended, and none of them featured DeMar DeRozan guarding him. Casey’s recognition of putting a quicker guy on Beal needs to be called out and commended, because it gives better coverage against Beal, and relieves DeRozan from expending effort chasing across screens. Beal the shooter was covered very well in Game 1, but I do expect the Wizards to look at the Beal matchup and see how it can be probed to generate offense across the board. Here’s an example where he won’t get any credit in the box score but it can be argued that he’s the one who caused the most damage on the possession:
Here’s another instance where he was the primary ball-handler and was able to make the key pass:
In both cases, he was able to get into the soft part of the paint and then make passes which broke the Raptors down. Beal himself is a threat to shoot any time, and he becomes doubly dangerous when, like in the above two sequences, he’s combining with bigs underneath. This is the kind of play the Raptors have to be weary off heading into Game 2, not necessarily John Wall who is bound to get his.
You have to question how much the Raptors should do about Markieff Morris in the post. On one hand, if the Wizards decide to go to Morris as a consistent offense initiator, I could argue that they’re playing from their weak suit and the Raptors should encourage that behaviour. On the other, he could be liable to explode for 35 and can change the game. I’d still opt for the former. The surprising stat for me out of Saturday was his six assists because the box score might give you the impression that the Raptors were doubling and Morris was finding people. However, if you look at the game tape, his assists were run-of-the-mill type stuff:
Between John Wall’s proven pick ‘n roll prowess, Bradley Beal’s impact potential, and Markieff Morris’s scoring/passing, the Raptors have to look most at Beal and ensure he remains quiet. As the Raptors head into Game 2 and look to take a commanding series lead, they should expect Washington to change tone and rely less on Wall’s pick ‘n roll, and more on Beal brushing off high screens and into the key, where there is greater chance of doing damage, including picking up fouls against Raptors guards, who at no point on Saturday were in any foul trouble. That is something Washington will look to change as they seek to exploit the main advantage their backcourt has: quickness.