Why Not Double-Team Arenas?

Heart still pumping rapidly after seeing Gilbert Arenas break down a helpless defender, pull up and beat another team with a three-pointer at the buzzer? Well, enjoy it. You likely won't see another finish like that again.

The question that everyone kept asking after Arenas drained a three-pointer over Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams to give the Wizards a 114-111 victory was: Why didn't Utah double team him? Hadn't they seen him launched a 32-footer over Milwaukee's Charlie Bell less than two weeks ago?

"Yes," Williams said, with a hint of irritation. "He's a great player. He's done it a lot of times."

But as Arenas and Antawn Jamison both explained afterward, Utah Coach Jerry Sloan is old school; he doesn't do zones or double-teams. He's a tough, prideful man who wants his players to defend man-to-man at all times and he will to deal with the consequences later. That's why Williams said his only option in the closing seconds was to, "Man up!"

After the game, Arenas joked that everyone at Verizon Center knew that he was going to take and make the shot. He added that if teams "have one man stick me, I can do that all year."

Enough of that. Arenas should either expect to see double coverage in the final seconds for the rest of the year or teams will make a concerted effort to ensure that Arenas doesn't get the ball. "Don't give up something that 29 other teams may figure out," Coach Eddie Jordan said after the game, when told that double-teams were coming.

Jordan doesn't need to worry. The rest of the league already knows.

This doesn't mean that Arenas won't hit another game-winner. He most certainly will, possibly with two or three defenders hounding him instead of one. The problem with containing Arenas is that he is quick enough to split a double-team, strong enough to get a shot off from anywhere - and the Wizards have enough offensive options that opposing teams can't cheat off Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison.

Expect teams to take that chance now and turn Arenas into a clutch assist man. So, Butler, Jamison or anyone on the court for the Wizards in the finals seconds, get ready. It's going to your turn to take that final shot soon.

By Michael Lee |  January 16, 2007; 11:32 AM ET
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That shot was sick. I'm loving me some Gil Arenas. I'll be taking in my first WIZ game before the season is out.

Posted by: bbtp89854726 | January 16, 2007 11:48 AM

I was shocked that Gil wasn't doubled on that last shot...bet you won't be seeing that situtation again.

Posted by: Wizzy | January 16, 2007 11:57 AM

Another reason to double Gil on last second shots is (please don't tell our competition) that Jarvis Hayes & Antawn Jamison, & Antonio Daniels are far from clutch shooters, God helps if Jarvis Hayes ever has to take a buzzer-beater.

Posted by: Swaggin | January 16, 2007 12:03 PM

In the past, when Arenas has taken the ball hard to the basket, he either gets a no call or a charge (a down to the wire Miami game either last year or a couple of years ago still stinks in my mind, the refs handed the game to the Heat on a silver platter).

Does all that change now? Will he get the call?

Posted by: Wei | January 16, 2007 12:04 PM

Hard not to believe that given the opportunity Caron Butler would not be a good clutch shooter. Anybody recall any instances where Caron had the game on the line and failed?

I say let's see teams bring double teams onto Gil during games. Only then will we really know how clutch his supporting cast is. I think we may be presently surpised. Perhaps a clutch shot by DeShawn could spice things up...when was the last time you saw that guy take a bad shot?

Posted by: Nick | January 16, 2007 1:18 PM

Hard not to believe that given the opportunity Caron Butler would not be a good clutch shooter. Anybody recall any instances where Caron had the game on the line and failed?

I say let's see teams bring double teams onto Gil during games. Only then will we really know how clutch his supporting cast is. I think we may be presently surpised. Perhaps a clutch shot by DeShawn could spice things up...when was the last time you saw that guy take a bad shot?

Posted by: Nick | January 16, 2007 1:19 PM

All this is nothing new from Gil; if we all remember when he was in GS he did the same to us (Wizards). That's why Eddie went and got him. We need to go get a legit low post player to complement the big three game, now the Wizards would be unbeatable.

Posted by: Quality Shot | January 16, 2007 1:51 PM

Nick - I agree, I love how Deshawn plays smart on offense and defense. The guy never takes a bad shot, he never gambles on defense, and he knows exactly what to do with the ball or without it.

When he was with Orlando the guy was hitting jump shots all over the place against the Wizards. I think Jordan would feel comfortable with him out there taking the last shot if needed.

Jeffries vs Stevensen? Hmmm, let me think about that one (ha ha).

Posted by: Wei | January 16, 2007 1:55 PM

... and Stevenson only cost $910,000. Just wish he was as good a defensive player as we thought he would be.

Posted by: George Templeton | January 16, 2007 2:02 PM

I wouldn't mind seeing Caron or DeShawn take the final shot, I agree. In a less pressured situation trying to make up points against Toronto a few games back, Caron couldn't miss from anywhere. He won't let pressure get to him. Deshawn seems good too. I'd rather not see Antawn or Jarvis near the ball, but I wouldn't mind an AD drive to the hoop.

All in all though, Gil is going to get every final shot. How can you stop Agent Zero in the final seconds with the game on the line. You have to respect his ability to drive and shoot.

Posted by: tp | January 16, 2007 2:17 PM

The question your post raises is what Jordan will do now in those final shot situations? Will Arenas get the ball at the top of the key and pass it when the double team comes? Will Jordan draw up a play so another player can go one on one? Will Jordan draw up a play so another player will draw a double team and kick it out to Arenas? Will Jordan draw up a play with player movement, screens for Arenas, etc.? Will Jordan wait until a team stops Arenas, or will he be proactive and anticipate a double team and have his team do something different?

Posted by: Henry | January 16, 2007 2:18 PM

Hayes may not make shots, but at least he...nevermind.

We gave up so many 2nd chance points it's a joke. No matter who Jamison guarded, that guy got boards and scored. He is just killing us. He needs to average 45 a game to make up for what he costs us on the other end.

Posted by: Bernard King | January 16, 2007 2:22 PM


Posted by: Benihana | January 16, 2007 2:31 PM

Face it, Gil is our only trusted option for a necessary trey. Caron & AD are not comfortable shooting long-range, Jarvis, is well, Jarvis. Antawn can hit some during games, but the guys is not clutch - I've seen him miss too many crucial FT's.

Posted by: Wizzy | January 16, 2007 2:37 PM

I've been saying all along to package Jamison, one of our centers and maybe Hayes for Garnett. Financially, it should work. Just gotta get McHale to budge and with their undefeated 07 record thus far in Minnesota, they probably don't make the deal. I've heard Minnesota definitely wants a sharp shooter and Hayes at least has the 'shooter' part down. Maybe Songaila is the short term answer defensively at 4 if he ever gets out there. Jamison plays no D and has bad lateral movement. He also allows for too manu 3 point play opportunities with weak fouls. If you are going to foul a shooter, foul hard enough that the shot has no chance.

Posted by: G$ | January 16, 2007 2:43 PM

Hey, G$. Why don't you call McHale and ask him if he would interested in that deal? Get back to us after you hear from him (and not before).

Posted by: joe | January 16, 2007 2:53 PM

Past shots for some of these guys may not affect a crucial shot in the future but here are a few facts:

Jarvis hit a clutch shot last night and has been seen hitting clutch free throws with the game on the line (even this year in the NJ game), although he has been largely terrible throughout the rest of the year. He also hit a ridiculous 3 against Philly at the buzzer to send it to overtime in a game last year I believe.

Caron missed two huge free throws a few games ago with the game on the line. He also missed the potential game winner in Game 6 last year against the Cavs. Everyone roasted Gil for the missed free throws, but Caron did miss an open shot at the buzzer.

Antwan does suck at the free throw line in close games, but he has hit potential (and actual) game winners when he is not shooting free throws - see Hornets game last year, and an off the glass runner at Indiana last year i think, and a big three against Miami in game 4 of the playoffs 2 years ago.

I'm not saying Hayes is clutch and Caron isnt....(I'm not sure what I'm saying about Antwan - clutch from the field but not from the line maybe).... but I'm just pointing out some things I have seen. Anyone else remember those games?

BTW deshawn stev. absolutley takes bad shots sometimes. He gets a lot of wide open shots that he hits bc of Gil, but when hits a few he tends to start forcing some shots.

Gilbert saved EJ from getting killed again for smallball in this forum. Once again we won in spite of Eddie...what was he doing???

Anyways if MJ, Kobe, AI, Bird, etc have historically been able to consistently hit gamewinners when everyone in the world knows that they are taking the shot then Gilbert should be able to also. Keep feeding the hot hand - Hibachi!!!

Posted by: Ray Chris. | January 16, 2007 3:06 PM

While it's thrilling the way Arenas has won those two games with a final 3, I'm surprised that no one seems to sit down and actually think about the situations those games presented.
In both games, the Wizards have the final possession in a tied game. Both times, Arenas shoots (and makes) a 3. If you're Eddie Jordan, you may be glad and/or relieved that the shot went in, but how can he, or any coach, be happy that instead of going with a designed play, a single player improvs and SHOOTS A 3-POINTER!?!? It's a tied game, how is it fundamentally sound to shoot a 3 in that situation? That's the lowest-percentage play on the court! You drive, penetrate, and either draw a foul or kick out. It makes no sense to me that no one has pointed this out.
If other teams start double teaming Arenas at the end of games, perhaps that'll be the impetus for Arenas to make a better decision. Otherwise, think about how happy the fans would be if he had missed both 3s.

Posted by: What if he misses the next time? | January 16, 2007 3:46 PM

I have had that same thought. BUT, what you want in those game ending situations is for the player to take a shot he feels comfortable making. Until he misses, why mess with success? When he does, you are right that it would be better to work for a better shot. But letting Gilbert call the shots on this and take whatever shot he wants right now isn't a bad strategy.

Posted by: John | January 16, 2007 3:52 PM

I don't think we had bad options on the floor at the end of the game although I did not like the small ball line up EJ employed the last possession before the game winner. EJ is an okay coach but his tactics are going to have to change a bit.

I say go four corners at the end of the game everytime and make the opposing team double the Grill Master! I would feel comfortable with Butler, Jamison, or Hayes, or Stevenson taking the final shot. A game winner for either of those guys would go a long ways towards restoring their confidence and making it hard to double Gil at the end of games. Continue to enjoy the show!

Posted by: Grill Master | January 16, 2007 4:04 PM

I don't think there's anything wrong with Gilbert's decision making. The defender has to respect Gilbert ability to blow by him, which means that when he fakes the drive and pulls back, he'll have room to get the shot off every time. And he's obviously comfortable with the rhythm of that particular shot. Why work for a shorter shot that he's be less comfortable with? Obviously, range is not much of an issue with Gilbert.

Also, there's no guarantee that he's going to get a call by driving and taking a foul. Refs hate making that call to end a game, and a lot games wind up with the guy on the floor looking up saying "where's my foul?".

Posted by: burke | January 16, 2007 5:17 PM

EJ was horrible last night, maybe the worst of the year. Anyone notice that the Wiz had a 7 point lead until EJ subbed practically the whole lineup (except for Caron, I believe) and went smallball for a long stretch? He had 2 guards and 3 SFs on the floor during that time. What's he think this is? Last year's George Mason team, playing in the NCAA tourney??? Grrrrrrrr...

They not only lost the lead, but had a deficit to make up when Gil and company finally got back in about 1/3 into the 4th quarter. They definitely won in spite of EJ's attempt to SABOTAGE the game. And he stood there during the postgame talking like he made all the right decisions to make it happen. If it wasn't for all his STUPIDITY, Gil wouldn't have needed to put on his Superman cape again so soon.

Ed Tapscott said it best, right after the game, "Great players make coaches [look]good." It doesn't take a coaching genius to give the ball to great talents like Gil, Caron, Antawn, etc...

Gil and company CAN NOT and WILL NOT rescue the Wiz ever night w/ EJ continuosly making IDIOT moves like last night.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 16, 2007 5:34 PM

"Hey, G$. Why don't you call McHale and ask him if he would interested in that deal? Get back to us after you hear from him (and not before)."

Posted by: joe | January 16, 2007 02:53 PM

You beat me to it joe!

Posted by: Victor | January 16, 2007 6:05 PM


"That's the lowest-percentage play on the court!"

Well, for most guys, you're probably right. Gil's shooting from 3Pt range what some guys do from the paint, and he's probably even higher percentage from the "30+ footer" range.

"You drive, penetrate, and either draw a foul or kick out. It makes no sense to me that no one has pointed this out."

Gil is tops in 3Pt attempts and #2 in FG attempts, so he knows how to do both, but we've also seen plenty of cases where he drives to the rack, gets killed and no call, or worse, gets hit with a charge.

In contrast, Gil "pulling up from Greensboro" is unlikely to be blocked without someone fouling him, so it's really a case of whether he has the mental concentration and muscle memory to hit the shot.

Given that we know he practices them, is extremely good at taking them, and we are a smallish team that isn't guaranteed anything in the paint, I'm actually really okay with Gil taking those for the tie or win, personally...

Posted by: Gack | January 16, 2007 6:14 PM

I think it is a bit of a confidence game, he knows we have the tie, he knows he isn't going to leave any time on the clock to let the other team call timeout and run a play. He doesn't turn the ball over a lot.
He doesn't trust the refs (why should he?) he trusts himself. He has been fairly amazing, um... I think it speaks for itself.

Some people can't be happy. I think a lot of those people are here.

Posted by: greg | January 16, 2007 6:31 PM

What if, yeah, it's not the highest percentage shot, but you think the defense is not also trying to make them take that shot. Besides it's going in and that's all that really matters. You call a timeout and the defense will setup to either keep Arenas from getting the ball or he will be double teamed. I like the attack approach with Arenas better.

Posted by: Rob P | January 16, 2007 6:35 PM

When do we stop saying "Gilbert is on a nice run" and start believing this isn't a run. He's this good.

The Takeover -coming to an Arena near you!

Posted by: PTP23 | January 16, 2007 8:21 PM

McHale says to wait until K-G asks out of Minnesota....like A-I did in Philly. He's not going to budge beforehand.

Posted by: G$ | January 16, 2007 8:28 PM

Wow, G$, I'm impressed you've got McHale on speeddial. Ask him if he keeps in touch with Joe Smith.

Posted by: Joe | January 16, 2007 9:39 PM

"Expect teams to take that chance now and turn Arenas into a clutch assist man."

Sorry Ivan, I don't agree with that and hope it doesn't happen.

Gil is not a passer, he's a shooter. And saying that as much as I love Caron the Wiz aren't better off with him taking a final shot.

My thing with the Wiz is this: Arenas is a genuine MVP candidate, you WANT your best player with the ball at the end with the game on the line.

Let me ask you this....Gil passes that ball yesterday instead of taking the shot and whomever misses, then what happens? Everyone is saying "Why didn't Gil take that shot?"

Gilbert is never going to be a good assist man because he's really a 2 guard and not a true 1. There's nothing wrong with that, he has nothing to prove.

If Gil passes that ball in the future the Wiz lose more way games then win. Not everyone has the confidence that Gil has.

You can't have Jamison on the second leg of a back to back night at the end of the game to have anything left.

Blatche? Jarvis Hayes? Please!

10 out of 10 times in that situation that ball should go to Gil.

Look at Mike's beloved Kobe in game 7 of the playoffs last year against the Suns. He was ripped in the press for not shooting the 4th quarter. People actually wanted him to be more selfish, crazy.

The Wiz HAVE to have Gil be the man on this team for it to go anywhere. He has to be the one to take that shot win or lose. As "greg" says he's hte ONLY one on this team who has the confidence to make that shot. He really is an "assassin" when it comes to that.

"Gil and company CAN NOT and WILL NOT rescue the Wiz ever night w/ EJ continuosly making IDIOT moves like last night."

Sorry but that's Jordan every night, may as well get used to it. I've said it before on here, Jordan should thank Gil everyday that he even has a job in DC.

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:


- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 16, 2007 10:01 PM

100% dead-on, Ray. And it's more than just his confidence, I truly believe his practice and conditioning put him into another class, because his body knows how to make that shot, it's almost instinctual.

Which of course, is why he hits so many of them. And that leads to...

Even more confidence ;)

In other news, the Terps are really making Baby Jesus cry this season. I can't believe how soft this team plays at times. And where the heck is DJ Strawberry disappearing to? Homes is not only costing the Terps games, he's burying any chance of NBA PT...

Posted by: Gack | January 16, 2007 10:35 PM

The problem with double teaming Gil is that he has unlimited range on his jumper. If you risk doubling him before the ball inbounds, that takes away a defender or gives the inbounder a clear view to find someone else. Anyway, by the time the 2nd defender would get there, the shot would be up and GTG(Gilbert the Great) would've turned his back as the shot goes in. HIBACHI!!! Or as Buckhantz would say, DAGGER!!!!

Posted by: C.Bell | January 16, 2007 11:19 PM

Can't Stop Won't Stop.

Going to the phonebooth lately, flipping on CSN (during homegames at least) has been a shot of adrenilane on a weekday night.

Thank you Wiz. Thank you Gilbert.

Posted by: Unlimited Range (jumpy) | January 17, 2007 9:47 AM


Funny that Jordan was asked about defense in your article today. I got a kick out of reading that. :)

Please go vote for all the Wizards for the 2007 NBA All Star game NOW at:


- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 17, 2007 1:35 PM

Did you all see this?


The Golden State Warriors have agreed to trade Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod to the Pacers for Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell, sources tell ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

I dunno, that might be enough players in this deal. :P

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 17, 2007 1:38 PM

Sorry Mike, I didn't realize you wrote this blog. I apologize, it was late and I just kidna skimmed through. :)

No wonder I disagreed, lol!

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 17, 2007 2:14 PM

Glad you caught that Ray. I like your posts too, BTW (and the link to vote for Caron and Gil).

Everyone - PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE BLOGGER - Michael Lee wrote this one, not Ivan Carter. Either address neither or both, if not the correct one.

If you like to hate on EJ's details, please notice the details yourself.

I badly want EJ to be a good coach, but he's no Sloan, Motta or Shue (or even Bickerstaff, who has coached very well in the past).

Posted by: Shotgun | January 17, 2007 4:03 PM

Posted by: Kwame (doesn't) Let Them Eat Cake | January 17, 2007 4:18 PM

Where's the cake?

Posted by: Joe | January 17, 2007 4:35 PM

Posted by: dc | January 17, 2007 5:10 PM

Thanks Shotgun :)

"I badly want EJ to be a good coach, but he's no Sloan, Motta or Shue (or even Bickerstaff, who has coached very well in the past)."

I can honestly say that also, but the guy isn't even trying to do things differently. Some people are just so darn stubborn though, I don't see him changing anything.

Do I like EJ? Yes

Do I think he's a good coach? No

Check that...I think he's a very average coach. But I don't think he's a "teacher" like you think a coach should be. Listen to Hubie Brown when he announces, it's too bad his health affected his ability to coach. That guy KNOWS basketball.

Ivan/Mike, I tried to join your chat today but for some reason I was having problems submitting anything. There were some good questions too!

Don't worry, I was being good. ;) Oh well, maybe next time.

I guess it's just me, but at first I thought that GS got the better of the deal. Indiana blew up thier team by giving away thier second and third leading scorers.

What gives there? I know the issues with Jackson but who is going to score other then Jermaine O'Neal now?

What does Indiana get except cap relief?

Do they get future relief????

What does this do to O'Neal and his mindset?

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 17, 2007 5:12 PM

Gack's points on why the Gil 3 is a good end of game shot are on the money. End of story. The only way to stop that is to double team Gil and crowd him. I think coaches will go to that and force Gil to pass. The "open man", doesn't matter who it is, should just have to hit a 10 footer.

My bro is a huge GS fan and I watch all their games on NBA Season Pass (bro watches all the Wiz games). Trust me on this - the trade is an absolute steal for GS. I already sent bro a congrats e-mail. He promised me ticks for the playoffs if GS made it this year, and I blocked my calendar today. The rest of the decent teams in the West are probably livid at Indiana. GS goes from also-ran to playoff lock.

Posted by: DDub | January 17, 2007 5:50 PM

two last second wins in a row? gotta be kidding me!!! amazing.
and gil didn't evne play well today. CB definitely stepped up tonight

Posted by: k-man | January 17, 2007 9:26 PM

I guess this answers the question "why not double team Arenas" :D

Sorta ugly, we still can't play any D except for the final 3 minutes, but a "W" is a "W".

If Caron doesn't get an all-star alternate spot, it's the travesty of the year.

Posted by: Gack | January 17, 2007 9:31 PM

Why not double team Arenas? So Caron Butler will be open for the game winning dunk baby!!!

Posted by: Will Mui | January 17, 2007 9:35 PM

Woo Hoo! You beat me to it Will!!!!

Posted by: PTP23 | January 17, 2007 9:45 PM

The Wiz stepped up on this win, good thing there was enough time to find the open guy.

When Stevenson was going to the hole THREE guys stepped out on him. That was a nice pass to Caron.

Good win, could have been a loss.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | January 17, 2007 9:57 PM

Isiah gambled and lost. Now we know Gil can pass, too :-)

It was a team effort tonight, and boy DeShawn was good (and calm) at the end. He could have tried to lay it in and draw foul, but he did what smart players did - pass the ball to the open man for an easy bucket.

Remember the last two years the Wizards were having problems winning close games? Well, this year they have been *winning* close games and that's a good sign because it indicates the team is playing with confidence and know how to win.

Posted by: The BigE | January 17, 2007 10:47 PM

Jarvis has a "Gil" complex - dis him (in this blog), and he shoots well - he SAVED this game. Glad to see that DeShawn saw Caron when it counted! AJ - stick with 20-footers and in, but nothing further out!

Let me guess - Wiz have and 11 point lead going into the 4th - EJ played small ball, right? I didn't see the game, but please tell me what happened to lose that 11 point lead in the 4th?

And BTW - Jarvis can't shoot (hoping to keep him going).

Posted by: Shotgun | January 17, 2007 11:04 PM

From ESPN today: Arenas entered the game leading the NBA in free throws made and 3-pointers made. No player has ever led the league in both categories for a full season. ... Washington's 16-3 home record is the best in the Eastern Conference and the franchise's best home start since the 1968-69 Baltimore Bullets opened the season 18-3.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 17, 2007 11:49 PM

Arenas is one of only four players in NBA history who were that young when they scored 50 or more three times in a 30-day span. The others? Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Posted by: PTP23 | January 18, 2007 12:10 AM

Was that 3 seconds on CB?

Posted by: Wei | January 18, 2007 12:51 AM

EJ as a coach has warts - but to say he isn't a good teacher is pushing it.

How many players have career years the first season they play with him?

How many best that career year during the 2nd year?

Come on, I don't understand how a guy gets 8 rebounds in the 1st quarter only to sit in the 3rd as Calvin The Booth logs minutes, or why AJ plays center sometimes,

But he has gotten better, give the man that. He isn't a stagnant coach by anymeans.

Posted by: Jumpy | January 18, 2007 1:21 AM


You're absolutely right on that smallball guess! And I think it was actually a 14 point lead that they lost. This smallball lineup was a little better than the other ones w/ Jamison at the 5. It was Taylor, Daniels, Butler, Hayes, and Etan. They got abused on the rebounds and putbacks, one after another it seemed.

The thing is, it was a pretty close game until the Wiz started to click and increased their lead to 14. Then EJ gave 4 of his starters a rest right there and then.

Etan is still a little slow getting back into it, it seemed. He's definitely not moving quite as well or as intense as before the injury.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 18, 2007 10:37 AM

Wei, could have been 3 seconds on CB and Haywood, but I don't think a single ref in the Association would call 3 seconds there.

Posted by: iceberg | January 18, 2007 12:00 PM


RE: "AJ - stick with 20-footers and in, but nothing further out!"

Whoever this shotgun guy is, he needs to get a clue. Antawn Jamison led the NBA, I repeat LED THE NBA, in 3-pt shooting percentage for three quarters of last year. Shotgun could not possibly be any more wrong about his advice to AJ.

Posted by: Barno | January 18, 2007 2:10 PM

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