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From The Locker Room: How Kyrie Switched The Lights Off On The Wizards

The Wizards were outlasted by the Cavaliers on Wednesday night thanks to the mere exploitation of their defense via an ISO-heavy attack orchestrated by LeBron James, JR Smith, and Kyrie Irving. The Wizards were intent on sealing off drives to the rim and keeping the world’s best player on the planet who somehow is the worst outside shooter in the league away from his comfort zone. It didn’t work out too well at first as Bron drained four early 3’s to start the second half, but when reality sunk back in, his shots began to misfire as normal, and the Wizards took advantage.


READ: Game Notebook 33 – Wizards vs. Cavs: Death By Royal Decree


In the 4th quarter, it would be Kyrie’s turn to toy around with the Wizards. Finger-picking his defenders off pick and rolls and commanding them one-on-one, Kyrie let off 19 points in the final quarter, leaving the Wizards hapless and defeated.

Players from both locker rooms explained their side of the story, and our iPhone cameras were there to capture them.

John Wall

“They knew we were switching on pick and rolls with every guard we had. Whoever they wanted to attack in the pick and roll they ran it and we switched it. They were able to get shots and get into a rhythm.”

Wall admitted that switching was their game against a Cavs team that continuously went ISO-heavy in the second half via LeBron, JR Smith, and Kyrie Irving. The process worked in the 3rd quarter against LeBron – after the flames from the arson he committed from the 3-point line went out – as the Wizards were able to force him to miss some shots from deep and subsequently return the ball in transition and go on a nice run. The 4th quarter, however, did not fare as well. The Cavs began to isolate Kyrie with the ball, who deliberately created favorable matchups for himself off screens and went ballistic, with Nene enduring the most of the torment. Wall said they were willing to live with the Cavs taking jump shots, but live they did not as Kyrie killed them with 19 points in the final quarter.

Jared Dudley

“Send a body, make him give it up. I want to see Dellevadova, I want to see those guys that aren’t stars make shots.”

While Dudley gave credit to Kyrie for hitting some tough shots, he harped about the team not making the necessary adjustments on defense to counter the Cavs’ ISO attack. Kyrie was adamant about which matchups he wanted, and he found them, and he exploited them. Dudley has mentioned before about the Wizards’ defensive break downs due to a lack of extra help against penetrating ball handlers, and that was his qualm last night as it pertained to their defense on Kyrie.

Garrett Temple

“Hindsight’s 20/20. Honestly, if you were to say LeBron was going to go 1-on-1 in the 3rd quarter, and Kyrie was going to go 1-on-1 the whole 4th quarter, even though those guys are talented, that would be to our advantage. Both of those guys got hot.”

Temple reiterated Wall’s theory (and Randy Wittman’s) about expecting one-on-one matchups against Kyrie and LeBron to be to their advantage on defense. I’m not sure I understand this completely because it kind of seems that it surprised everyone on the Wizards that Kyrie and LeBron even got hot. Of course guarding ISO plays – whether you switch or not – will work to your advantage when players miss, but when ISO is killing you like it killed the Wizards in the 4th quarter, you’ll probably begin to notice yourself dying (19 is a lot of points for one quarter) and you’ll probably want to think like Jared Dudley and rethink your strategy.

LeBron James

“We’re very efficient ISO guys … We know we don’t want to rely on that, but tonight called for it.”

It’s funny how basketball minds work as players. One side feels the advantage is theirs even when it really isn’t, while the other side knows the advantage is theirs and it really is. LeBron got hot early in the 3rd quarter with four 3’s and that’s something that I can understand being a bit unexpected because normally LeBron sucks at outside shooting. The Wizards were poised all night to seal off the lane against LeBron drives and they did a decent job as 12 of LeBron’s 22 shots came from outside the paint. When LeBron finally cooled down, however, that’s when the Wizards went on their run, grabbing long rebounds and converting them into fast break points.

Kyrie Irving

“We’re going to attack matchups. We’re going to make it uncomfortable. We have the ability to match up when teams go small.”

Attack. Attack. Attack. Kyrie carved up Wizards defenders one by one in that final quarter, regardless of who they were, or how they came about to defend him. He skated past Nene for an and-1 early. He took Dudley on a piggy back ride to the rim. Gary Neal was absolutely no match for him. And John Wall? He got swallowed up by every screen that Kyrie drove him into. Wall may think that the NBA All-Star voting is a joke, but no one in Cleveland is laughing, and especially not Kyrie Irving.

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