Tuesday, May 09, 2006

ClipperBlog Breaks Down the Treys

Kevin over at ClipperBlog does a full breakdown of every Suns 3 point make in game 1, along with the defensive mistakes the Clippers made on each possession. (FYI, Kevin frequently refers to himself as an Ubergeek. Oh really?)

Well, not to be out-geeked, I'm going to break down the breakdown (or is it break the breakdown down?)

OK, I'm not going to go through all 12 possessions. But I am going to say that there's a difference between good defense and perfect defense. Dunleavy was quoted during the Denver series as saying that Ross was 'nearly perfect' in his defensive rotations. Well, this was intended as astronomically high praise. In other words, perfection is not a realistic expectation. Even if QRoss manages to be perfect, not even Dunleavy is expecting the other 4 guys to be.

First of all, if Steve Nash is going to pull up for a three in transition (instead of a PUJIT, isn't this a PU3IT?), more power to him. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, you can do about this. He's too good. If you try to close him out at the 3 point line in transition, he will go all the way to the basket. So you get a hand up when he pulls up, and if he makes it, he makes it, and you've got to live with that.

Also, Nash can get the switch on the S/R on pretty much every possession if he wants. Even if you successfully hedge once, or even twice, he'll keep his dribble alive, or he'll get the ball back, they'll run the S/R again and eventually you're going to have to switch (or give up a lay up). So when Nash pulled up over Radmanovich for the dagger with under 3 to play, there's pretty much nothing Vlade could do about it. Truthfully, it would seem that Vlade and Brand are both long enough to bother his jumper (as Brand did on a couple of other occasions.) But he can certainly get enough room to get the shot off, and if it goes in, there's nothing you can do (this is becoming a recurring theme - nothing you can do about it.)

So Nash can take the three in transition any time he wants, and he can get a switch and shoot over a big any time he wants. Is it a coincidence that he chose to take these threes when he did? Nash can do this any time he wants, but he picks his times. In game 1, it was his first make (and his team's first three) and the dagger (and his team's last three.) This guy doesn't just win games - he does it SYMMETRICALLY!

Two makes in the 2nd also fall into the 'nothing you can do about it' category. Diaw got an open look after an offensive rebound in the 2nd at 11:23. Now, when a shot goes up, the defenders are supposed to go get the rebound. If shooters drift to the 3 point line, and the offensive team gets the rebound for a kick out, there's nothing you can do about that (that's a rebounding problem, not a defense problem). The other thing I would say about that one is, Boris Diaw shot 26.7% from 3 point range on the season. He's pretty much the one guy on the Suns you can leave at the 3 point line. If he makes a 3 on a kick out after an offensive board, nothing you can do about it. Also, Tim Thomas (2nd 4:09) got a ball that Marion saved from going out of bounds and drained a three. NYCDAI.

On the other 7 makes, someone on the Clippers was running at the shooter on 6 of them. What more can you do? Let's not forget that the Suns also had 48 points in the paint (one of my favorite misleading statistics.) In this case, points in the paint obviously doesn't mean throwing the ball in to a post up player on the low block, but rather a drive to the basket. So that means the Suns were doing a fair amount of driving past the Clippers as they tried to close out jump shooters.

So, as I said in my earlier post, pick your poison. These guys are good. They can all score, and they can do it a variety of ways. If the Clippers have to play perfect defense in order to win.... well that's just not a realistic plan.

Is hoping that the Suns miss a better plan? Well, I'll agree that it's not much of a plan, but it's got a better chance of succeeding than the idea of playing perfect defense. Let's play good defense, and hope they miss a few more.