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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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