Read Pelton's piece, but in short the flap went something like this: Dallas defeated Phoenix in the season opener 111-108 but despite the Mavs' victory, Kenny & Charles disemboweled their defense of Phoenix's patented S/R. In particular, they shook their heads at Dallas' choosing to switch on the S/R, and Barkley pretty much made a wholesale condemnation of the switch as a defensive strategy. Mark Cuban, who has guys documenting every set, got pissed off because - as Pelton's data bear out - there's no empirical evidence suggesting that the switch is a less effective strategy than running under the screen, or hedging, etc. The war of words degenerates, blah, blah, blah.
Pelton pored over the data of a game between Phoenix and Detroit about ten days later and determined that Cuban's beef had merit - the switch is no less an effective defense of Phoenix's S/R than any other method.
The obvious relevance of Pelton's piece today is that, somewhere in a Phoenix hotel suite, Mike Dunleavy is weighing his defensive options. What's interesting is that, over the past 36 hours, I've both read and heard criticism of the Lakers suggesting that they would've been better served by having Smush [if that is your real name] run under the screen - which he did in three instances, each time resulting in a long-range Nash miss -- more frequently.
I'm not convinced this 0-3 on the Under is anything more than an aberration (besides, let me ask you - if the Clips are leading by one and PHX is coming down with :15 seconds remaining and Livingston runs under a Nash screen with :07, would you not put a bounty on Dunleavy's head?)
Here's why I think the Clippers are well-suited to defend the Phoenix high screen and roll with a switch, particularly with Livingston on the floor:
Like Detroit, our bigs are quick and mobile and our backcourt defenders are big and long. By switching Livingston or Ross...or even Mobley onto Diaw or Thomas, the Clippers don't kill themselves, and can certainly buy themselves the second or two they need for a proper baseline rotation - provided they execute.
What concerns me is Kaman's being drawn out to the top of the circle on the Nash-Diaw drag that worked so effectively on the Lakers. I'd like to think that Kaman is more capable than Kwame, but the Clippers will need to have a set rotation prepared for this, because this S/R is proving to be PHX's bread-and-butter. Because when Diaw comes up top, this is going to leave Brand alone in the right corner on Marion - where the Matrix sets up on this play. Mobley or Maggette will be guarding Bell or James in the left corner. PHX's other body is usually set up on the wing.
If Brand comes over for help, then someone - either our wing defender (Livingston/Cassell) or the other corner guy - has a split-second decision to put a body on Marion...or they could collapse on Diaw - though, as you saw with the Lakers, he gets to the basket far too quickly for most frontcourt defenders to have adequate time to help.
The difference between defending Phoenix well and laying out the red carpet for them is a matter of a nanosecond.
A quick baseline rotation and Boris Diaw's attempted layup says hello to Elton Brand's palm. A clumsy switch by Chris Kaman and Nash is in the paint for an uncontested 12-footer - abusing Kaman the way he did Kwame off the switch. Good anticipation by Shaun Livingston on repeated possessions and the Clips can effectively cut off one wing of the Phoenix offense. Poor rotation on the perimeter and James Jones and Raja Bell can set up a couple of chaise lounges in the corners and go to work - maybe they'll hit...and maybe they won't.
Game One is always exciting, particularly when, like the Clippers, you're the vagrant at the postseason cocktail party. But what makes Clipperblog so giddy about this game - especially having watched virtually every minute of the LAL/PHX series - is that Clipperblog is dying to see how the Clips choose to defend Phoenix. It's how we felt before the season premiere of The Sopranos.