How'd he do that? Telfair vs. Arenas play by play
by: E Weiss - Sports Aptitude
November 7, 2006
When a player has a big time scoring performance, many fans typically look at the opposing positional player as the primary culprit defensively. Its seems logical to focus on the position by position match up because technically those players are suppose to be responsible for defending their counterpart.

However, basketball is a team game and during the course of a game there are a multitude of schemes and tricks coaches use to free up their players for better scoring oportunities as well as more effective defensive success. As is often the case, what one thinks they see during live action is not always indicative of how events actually transpired.

Here is a rundown of every posession that occured when Telfair and Arenas were in the game together...

Telfair vs. Arenas:

Posession 1: Arenas runs around right elbow screen to baseline 3pt line, cuts to hoop and travels on catch of low ball....Telfair followed over the screen to deny the 3pt shot and denied Arenas the lane, which forced him baseline toward the help defender Perkins

Posession 2: Arenas runs from right elbow 3pt line toward the ball, catches and shoots from top of 3pt circle and scores...Telfair doesn't deny the ball, but stays in front of Arenas and has a hand up and in close proximity to Arenas on the shot-contested shot

Posession 3: Arenas drives toward right, gets screen from Butler at 17ft, pulls up for 12 foot base line step back and misses...Telfair fights through screen(and Pierce who gets tangled with him) and cuts off Arenas' path toward the hoop forcing him wide of the land and into the pull-up baseline shot.

Posession 4: Arenas drives from middle 3pt line, gets a high screen at top of key from Etan Thomas, dribbles into Telfair's chest, wraps the ball around his back, slicing past Kendrick Perkins and in for a layup...Telfair avoids the screen from Thomas, gets knocked backwards by Arenas while in position, Perkins reacts too slowly to deny Arenas' change of direction...

Posession 5: Arenas dumps ball off and cuts to left, stops 8 feet from the basket on left baseline, recieves the inlet pass, bumps Telfair once on the post, turns for off-balance fadeaway and misses shot...Telfair sticks with Arenas through baseline cut, holds ground and forces Arenas into off balance shot...

Posession 6: Arenas comes up court after made basket, makes a quick move to the left and is stripped by Gomes...Telfair isn't covering Arenas because of a switch...

Posession 7: Arenas walks up to right side 3pt line, pulls up for a quick 3, instantly follows his miss and lays it in....Telfair jumps past Arenas when challenging the 3pt shot and is half a foot behind Arenas when he lands, Arenas cuts to the hoop before Telfair has a chance to react

Posession 8: Arenas drives left from behind 3pt line around a high screen in the middle of the court, Telfair avoids screen and cuts off left side, Arenas changes direction and drives hard to the right, gets to the basket for an easy layup...Telfair gets caught on the change of direction and Arenas gets by him easily on the crossover, Jefferson is caught behind a moving Etan Thomas so the lane is completely exposed...

Posession 9: Arenas comes off pick inside paint and curls to elbow 3pt line for a quick catch and shoot 3pt shot which he misses...Telfair fights through pick in the paint and pick on left elbow which gives Arenas enough room for the quick shot...

Posession 10: Arenas hands off ball and runs down into paint, reverses direction and comes straight back out to top of key off of a back pick by Haywood, catch and shoot 17ft shot for basket...Telfair gets rubbed off on a solid back pick by Haywood, which leaves Arenas open for the shot..

Posession 11: Arenas picks off a pass from Kendrick Perkins and takes it the distance....bad pass by Perkins to Telfair, who was being shaded by Arenas between he and the ball..

Posession 12: Arenas hands off ball to Caron Butler, Butler dribbles back to Arenas and hands off ball while setting the screen, Arenas misses the quick shot...Telfair fights over the screen by Butler, Jefferson has position for the drive, Arenas shoots too quickly to defend shot...

Posession 13: Arenas catches ball at top of key, drives to left straight into Telfair, bumps him with his body on the drive until he gets the foul...Telfair was in perfect position, wasn't giving Arenas room to shoot, kept his hands up, probably should have flopped to try and draw a charge. Arenas simply drove straight into Telfairs chest until he got the foul...

Posession 14: Arenas gets a high screen above middle 3pt line, drives hard off the pick and draws the fould from Perkins....Perkins doesn't call out the pick, Telfair doesn't get stuck on the pick, but it gives Arenas the chance to cut, Perkins takes the wrong angle and overcommits on the flash which allows Arenas to run around him...

Posession 15: Arenas gives up the ball and runs in in a loop around 2 screens, catches and drives hard toward the hoop, Jefferson is out of position and gives Arenas a clear lane on the other side of the pick...Telfair runs with Arenas through 2 screens covering half the court, Jefferson plays too close to the screen man and doesn't cut off Arenas' path on the catch...

Posession 16: Arenas hands off the ball and curls around to the left side, gets a screen near the elbow 3pt line for the catch and shoot miss....Telfair sticks close as Arenas runs through the paing and gets a hand up on the shot, forcing a quick shot before Arenas is fully set...

Posession 17: Arenas gives up the ball to Butler from the top of the key, Telfair hedges down to help Jefferson at the top of the key, Butler kicks it back for the catch and shoot 3, which Arenas misses...Telfair only takes 2 steps away and is in position to defend the drive when Arenas recieves the ball, not much of a challenge on the shot though...

Posession 18: Arenas gets the ball in transition, and takes a right elbow 3pt line shot on the catch and shoot...Telfair is in front of him in transition and is right up on Arenas' shot...

Posession 19: Arenas catches the ball at the middle 3pt line off of Stevensen dribble penetration, catches and shoots for the 3 point make....Telfair is on his shooting hand to challenge the shot...

Posession 20: Arenas gets the ball in transition from Stevenson after a turnover by Gomes, Arenas lays it in...Telfair retreated back and forced Stevenson to pass instead of laying it in, Arenas was the trailer...

Posession 21: Arenas gets a pick at the middle 3pt line and tries to drive toward the basket, gets picked up by help defense, forces pull-up and misses...Telfair gets picked, but help defense turns Arenas back into Telfair who forces the off balance miss...

Possession 22: Arenas gets the ball in the right baseline corner 3pt line, dribbles into Telfair, makes body contact, steps back for the deep fade away 2 point basket...Telfair was man up in ISO and denied Arenas the drive...

Posession 23: Arenas has the ball mid court ISO against Telfair, gets a high pick from Jamison, passes to Jamison on the roll...Telfair sticks with Arenas, but Jefferson doubles to tightly and allows Jamison a free path to the basket...

Posession 24: Arenas dumps off the ball on the right side, gets a back pick from Haywood, catches and shoots for the 3 point basket...Telfair gets caught blind on the back pick, which Jefferson doesn't call out, falls down and gives Arenas uncontested set shot...

Posession 25: Arenas plays give-and-go in the left corner, gets the ball back and misses deep 3 point shot....Telfair and Gomes switch on the pick, Gomes challenges shot...

Posession 26: Arenas drives middle to the basket and gets fouled...Telfair and Green had switched defensive assignments, Arenas drove by Green...

Posession 27: Arenas gives the ball to Daniels, runs back to left elbow behind 3pt line, catch and shoot for 3 pt basket...Telfair is playing the middle in a zone, he is not defending Arenas on the play...

Posession 28: Arenas drives right from the middle 3pt line, uses a quick back screen to get off a step back 3pt shot which he misses...Telfair cuts off the drive and forces the off balance step back...

Posession 29: Arenas gets the ball in transition and is fouled by Gerald Green...Telfair has Stevenson...

Posession 30: Arenas gets a high screen, forces pull up jumper and misses...Telfair switches with Gomes on the screen...

Posession 31: Arenas gets the ball off of two screens, pulls up and makes deep 3 off the curl...Telfair and Wally switched on 2nd pick, Arenas beats Wally who challenges shot...

Posession 32: Arenas gets an ISO posession and drives into the paint, forces his shot and misses the pull-up...Telfair is on Daniels..

Posession 33: Arenas hits a pull-up jumper after getting a screen on the right elbow...Wally switched onto Arenas, who was being guarded by Green...

The popular sentiment after this game was that Sebastian Telfair's poor defensive job on Arenas led to the 44 point night. But, after reviewing each scoring posession the two were a part of, it becomes clear that Arenas' success was primarily due to Washington's system and the extreme prowess of Arenas himself.

As the primary offensive weapon for his team, Arenas was constantly set in motion and the Wizard's offense was designed to run his defender through multiple screens. Arenas did most of his damage off of quick jump shots from distance, which is a known hallmark of his excellence.

Telfair fought through screens effectively on a majority of the plays he defended Arenas on and was able to stay close enough to force quick shots off the catch, which Arenas still hit.
Arenas drove far less than he settled for the jump shot and on the plays he did drive, Telfair was able to keep him out of the center of the court and force him into tough pull-up jumpshots.

Telfair biggest flaw defensively was in ball denial, not in his failure to contain penetration.There were also a number of plays where the communication between Telfair and his help defense was extremely poor. Telfair got caught on high picks on a handful of posessions where the Celtics' big men took poor angles to the ball when trying to deny Arenas' penetration, this led to a number of fouls. In the fourth quarter of the game, Telfair was not matched up with Arenas on a majority of his scoring posessions, either switching on the pick or defending Antonio Daniels.

So, what initially looked like a terrible defensive performance was actually more a byproduct of Washington's system, Arenas' excellence, and inconsistencies in the Celtics' team defense.

This is why professionals watch the game tape and study peformance after the fact. It takes more than just initial observation to discover the route of a problem. Next time an opposing player has a big game against your team, take a deep breath, go to the TiVo, and review the situation like the pros do. It just might make you feel better.

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Etan Thomas
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 256 lbs.
Birthday: 04/01/1978
38 Years Old
High School: Booker T. Washington
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #12 in 2000 Draft
by the Mavericks
Current: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
2.6 Pts, 2.4 Rebs, 0.8 Asts

Kendrick Perkins
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 280 lbs.
Birthday: 11/10/1984
32 Years Old
High School: Clifton J. Ozen
Previous Team: Pelicans , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #27 in 2003 Draft
by the Grizzlies
Current: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
2.5 Pts, 3.5 Rebs, 0.8 Asts

Caron Butler
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Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 222 lbs.
Birthday: 03/13/1980
36 Years Old
High School: Maine Central Institute
Previous Team: Kings , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #10 in 2002 Draft
by the Heat
Current: SF,
Possible: SF
Quick Stats:
2.0 Pts, 2.0 Rebs, 0.5 Asts

Gerald Green
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 192 lbs.
Birthday: 01/26/1986
31 Years Old
High School: Gulf Shores Academy
Previous Team: Celtics , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #18 in 2005 Draft
by the Celtics
Current: SG/SF,
Possible: SG/SF
Quick Stats:
5.5 Pts, 1.8 Rebs, 0.8 Asts

Sebastian Telfair
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Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 165 lbs.
Birthday: 06/09/1985
31 Years Old
High School: Lincoln
Previous Team: Xinjiang , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #13 in 2004 Draft
by the Trailblazers
Current: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
4.0 Pts, 1.5 Rebs, 1.5 Asts

Antonio Daniels
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 197 lbs.
Birthday: 03/19/1975
41 Years Old
High School: St. Francis DeSales
Previous Team: Bowling Green , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #4 in 1997 Draft
by the Grizzlies
Current: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
12.6 Pts, 3.4 Rebs, 8.7 Asts