Defense is something every writer on this site has been harping about at some point or another. And even though the Clippers are a top-10 defensively rated team, a lot of that is derived from turnovers, second unit gambles and late game clamp downs.
So when I saw a strong, 24-second defensive possession occur in the second quarter, I felt like it had to be pointed out.
It starts with a strong side screen by Boozer on Belinelli. Crawford is able to get over this because Griffin audibly calls out LEFT before the pick arrives.
Crawford stays with Belinelli while Chris Paul tries to jump the passing lane for a steal.
Paul is momentarily hung up by Noah’s screen so DeAndre hedges out flat to stop Hinrich’s penetration. All the other Clipper defenders have their men accounted for and their heads facing towards the ball and Paul recovers to trap Hinrich.
Griffin, the backline defender, rotates off his man to cover DeAndre’s man, audibly letting Jordan know. Meanwhile, Crawford, the weakside help, sags down just enough to be within reach of Boozer, effectively covering two men on the weakside.
DeAndre bumps Hinrich through the cut so Paul can stay with him. Jordan then returns to his man to allow Griffin to recover to Boozer. In the mean time, Butler moves his feet and stays in front of Deng.
Butler is picked off by Noah and Griffin slides off Boozer to show on Deng, trapping him. Seeing this, DeAndre moves up to rotate onto Boozer.
Butler does a solid job holding position against Noah and Joakim kicks the ball out. Now here’s the one error: Griffin is caught ball watching for a moment and doesn’t stay with Deng, who has a clear lane cutting to the rim. Noah doesn’t see this and no damage is done.
Hinrich takes a contested shot off the dribble. Notice how well the Clippers have accounted for everyone. Griffin has since recovered back to Deng.
This last frame technically occurs after the 24-seconds, but is a part of the same possession. It’s also where the second error occurs, nullifying the solid defense the Clippers just displayed.
It seems like this is DeAndre’s mistake, but he was rotated onto Boozer. Butler was boxing out Noah and allowed Joakim to slide off and get the offensive rebound. Jordan, in fighting for the rebound, picks up the foul.
Whew! There’s a lot going on throughout the set. This is a solid defensive effort displayed by the Clippers; particularly Blake and DeAndre as they help, rotate and recover multiple times in this one sequence. Even with the minor errors, a consistent defense of this caliber would be more than worthy of the lofty defensive rating the Clippers have achieved.
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