My initial reaction to the Los Angeles Clippers night defensively was that they just aren’t there yet. Yet implies that enough time with Doc Rivers makes them a formidable team on that end.
Defense has been an issue all season, but pace has been a huge factor in numbers like the Clippers having the worst defensive rating in the NBA. The faster you play, the more shots you give up and the more points the opposition score. In a half-court things just didn’t look good tonight.
The Miami Heat shot poorly from the three-point line (5-16) which is well below their season average of 42.9 percent. It didn’t matter as they hit 68.8 percent of their shots in the restricted area. 68.8 percent. That’s nearly the equivalent of last year’s Lebron James at the rim. You can’t win that way. And in the end, this was the main reason why the Clippers lost tonight’s game and aren’t taken seriously as a championship contender.
Los Angeles’ best perimeter defender is Matt Barnes. Outside of him, the options are slim. DeAndre Jordan is the most important defender on this Clippers team, but he can’t do it on his own and the perimeter defenders aren’t giving him any help. Look at how the perimeter defenders are allowing the opposition, or in this case Ray Allen, to easily get into the paint.
There are two common denominators it the three above screenshots: Ray Allen is blowing clean past a defender and that he scored. If you need a reminder, Ray Allen is 38 years old. He’s average speed and isn’t using strength to get by the Clippers perimeter defenders here. He’s using his speed to blow by them. If Jared Dudley and company can’t keep Ray Allen out of the paint, Doc Rivers may wish he was back in Boston before the All-Star break After the guard penetration, the rotations just weren’t crisp enough, especially from center DeAndre Jordan.
On this Lebron James post up the Clippers players are in perfect position to defend. Call it the “San Antonio Spurs” formula. J.J. Redick is shading toward the paint due to Dwyane Wade‘s lack of a perimeter shot, basically defending the Heat four-on-five. And instead of DeAndre Jordan shading to the paint to cut Lebron James’ back-down off, he’s looking elsewhere.
By the time DeAndre Jordan turns around, Lebron has his foot in the restricted circle preparing to put a shot up over a smaller Jared Dudley. This is the next step DAJ has to take to become the “Defensive of the Year” type player that Doc Rivers hyped him up to possibly be. It’s unrealistic to expect him to make the leap six games into the season, but trends are shown here and it’s obvious that Jordan has a ways to go.
Here is the video of that play:
Here is the play from one of the photos above. Willie Green’s horrific defense gets the Clippers in this situation and a late rotation by DeAndre Jordan is the icing on the cake.
Contending every shot doesn’t have to be swatting at everything the opposition puts up in the paint, but being timely in spots helps just as much. Hands-up a la Roy Hibbert would be big here. But with a lineup similar to this, the Heat force the Clippers to make tough decisions. Jordan attempting to block the shot likely means a drop-off to Birdman for the easy dunk. Blake Griffin dropping down to cover Birdman on a cut as Jordan fully commits to Ray Allen on the drive? That could end up a wide-open three by Shane Battier in his favorite spot.
Here is the play live:
Looking through the past few games live, the chemistry just isn’t there. There’s no faith in knowing a teammate has your back and the defensive intensity or awareness has a ways to go. Luckily it’s only been six games, so they have time to gel.