Bradley Beal continued his offensive onslaught on Wednesday with a 25-point performance against the Spurs. He shot 11-for-22 from the field and ended his night with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Wizards a 102-99 victory.
Let’s take a look at the ATO play Randy Wittman ran to set Beal up for the game-winning bucket.
Part 1: The Set-up
The Wizards rolled out a lineup of John Wall (PG), Bradley Beal (SG), Otto Porter (SF), Jared Dudley (PF) and Marcin Gortat (C) for the final possession of the game. The Spurs matched by going small, putting Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green on Beal and Wall, leaving Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge to take care of the rest.
To start the play, Dudley inbounds the ball to Wall on the perimeter. Porter and Beal park themselves on the baseline waiting for their cue and Gortat stays close to Wall by standing at the right elbow.
Part 2: The Switch
Once Dudley inbounds the ball he clears out to the baseline, where he is joined by Porter. Beal begins curling towards the perimeter while Gortat meets him at the left elbow for a screen.
Instead of immediately popping out to the wing for a 3-pointer — what would’ve telegraphed the play and given Leonard ample time to fight over Gortat’s pick — Beal runs towards Wall to set a brush screen, leading to some miscommunication between Leonard and Aldridge. Leonard, likely anticipating a pick-and-roll between Wall and Gortat, motions to Aldridge to switch and decides to hang back instead of chasing Beal.
Once Beal is in the clear, Gortat continues to play decoy by turning around and setting a screen for Wall, who keeps the Spurs guessing with a couple of hesitations.
Part 3: The Fake
With Aldridge being a step slow on the closeout, Beal is able to get him out of position with a simple jab step towards the baseline. And thanks to Dudley and Porter pulling the help defense away by sticking to the corner, Aldridge is left guarding Beal on an island.
Once Aldridge is out of the picture, Beal capitalizes on the opportunity by stepping to the side for a 3-pointer, à la Steph Curry, rather than pulling up for a midrange jumper. As I wrote last month for Sporting News, it’s the type of decision that will help him become an All-Star sooner rather than later because it will do wonders for his efficiency.
Notice, too, how Ginobili leaves Porter alone for a cut to the rim, likely expecting Aldridge to funnel him towards the baseline. With a few extra seconds on the clock, Beal could’ve hit him for an easy layup had they doubled more aggressively. Either way, the spacing is perfect and Beal works his way free for an uncontested shot.
With Beal and Wall combining for nearly 50 percent of the Wizards’ points this season, it’s no wonder the Spurs tried to slow them down with Leonard and Green. However, the play managed to confuse them just enough to force a switch and exploit probably the biggest mismatch on the court — Aldridge having to stick with Wall or Beal in an isolation.
It’s funny what Wittman can do when he actually puts pen to paper.