PLAYBOOK – One play without Parker or Duncan shows how tough Spurs are to defend

One play sums up how difficult it is to guard the San Antonio Spurs. The most remarkable part of this play is Tony Parker and Tim Duncan aren’t on the floor.

Coach of the Year Greg Popovich is a stickler for spacing and you will see the impact it has on this play.

On the floor for the Spurs are Neal, Ginobili, Leonard, Bonner and Splitter.

The Jazz stop the initial play and with :14 on the shot clock Manu comes to get the ball and starts a new set with a high pick and roll working left to right with Splitter.

The Jazz guard it perfectly. Hayward gets over the pick and Kanter reads that and returns to Splitter. Notice how the floor spacing leaves the entire middle wide open if Manu had been able to split the pick or get to the middle.

Now Manu calmly reverses and Splitter re-sets the pick and going right to left. The floor spacing by the Spurs is still perfect.

Again the Jazz defend this very well with Kanter shading and Hayward staying tethered to his man. Splitter dives down the middle bringing Tinsley a step toward the middle and Favors now shades toward the middle anticipating the pass to Splitter.

Amazingly, Manu throws the pass to Neal, because he knows exactly where he will be. Tinsley closes out. Check out Favors he is now guarding both Splitter in the post and Bonner in the left corner for a three. Kanter has started to work his way back. Kanter may have hesitated for a split second and the Spurs will get that everytime.

Neal penetrates after Tinsley closes out. Tinsley ran him off the three point line as you would hope. Kanter on his way back helps cut off the penetration. Check out Favors again, he has started to head over to Bonner having been burned by the three earlier in the game. Not sure but maybe Carroll could go to Bonner but that leaves a wide open three for Leonard. Think about this, I am not sure anyone has made a mistake at this point and the Jazz are dead with Neal in the paint, Splitter at the rim and two three pointers waiting for open looks.

Neal gives it to Splitter and you know what happens next. Slam Dunk. Where was the mistake? Or is this why coaches say if we execute we will be ok.

PLAYBOOK – Al Jefferson pick and roll defense – up or zone?

I went through all the pick and roll defenses by the Jazz and Al Jefferson approach in Game 1 was to zone the lane.

Interestingly, when asked on Monday what the Jazz needed to do on the pick and roll he said “You got to be up, what gets a lot of bigs in trouble you helping and Tim Duncan so good, but you got be up to help to help them guards, because Tony Parker coming off the pick and roll with the big back is a mismatch Tony Parker coming at you full speed. The way to stop it is to be up. Try to be up and be ready to move with him ”

Here are examples of Al Jefferson in the 1st quarter v. the Spurs in game 1.

Maybe his quote is the adjustment for game 2. I am really not sure what he was asked to do by the coaches, but he consistently did the same thing in Game 1.



PLAYBOOK – Why Channing Frye is so hard to guard

I was just on 1320, K-Fan with Bags and Parks and we were talking about what pain Channing Frye is to guard. I tried to do radio telestrator and that usually sucks.

In the last two games Frye is averaging 28.5 pts against the Jazz on 22 of 34 shooting. Over the last 5 games, all Suns wins (Suns have won 6 in a row) Frye is averaging 18 pts and shooting 50% from the field and 40% from three including 11 of 20 in the last two.
Here is why he is so hard to guard.

First play is a Nash/Gortat pick and roll. With Frye on the wing. Nash is going to go to the middle, Harris probably should be forcing Nash to the baseline side. Millsap is trying to clog the paint while Favors’s responsibility is going to be to make Nash go horizontal.

Favors doesn’t get out far enough. Nash begins to turn the corner and Millsap has to slide over. Frye is a quick release and he is open. If Favors heads over farther Gortat could be open rolling the lane. The adjustment tonight might be to have Millsap clog and have CJ slide up to Frye rather than standing in no man’s land.

Or next play again is a Nash/Gortat pick and roll this time on the near side with Frye on the opposite side and Nash going away from Frye. Jefferson is stepping out on Nash to stop his progress and Millsap is going to have to get the roll man in Gortat.

Jefferson does an ok job. Millsap is pointing that someone needs to go get Frye but if Hayward leaves a cutting Dudley it is a lay-up and you know Nash will find it. Ideally, Jefferson cuts off Nash so he can make his way into the paint but let’s be real. Once Nash gets into the paint he will slice you up.

Nash actually does give it too Dudley and defense collapses nicely to prevent the lay-up but look who is wide open. I am really not sure how you prevent this other than cut off the penetration.

The next play is to show more of the picking action the Suns do to free Frye as a three point shooter and big guys are not good at getting through picks. This is the most basic of plays and the only way to defend it is to switch or fight like heck.
Grant Hill comes to the post, Dudley throws the entry pass and immediately goes and picks Frye’s man at the top of the key

Hayward could switch but the good thing here is Frye is on the move and he is much less good. He misses this shot

Last play is my favorite play in the NBA. Double high pick and roll. I think this is toughest play to guard in the NBA. The big difference here is Nash is not in the game but it still works. Frye and Lopez set picks in the early offense. Favors has Frye and Kanter is on Lopez.

After Telfair rolls Lopez goes and sets a pick on Favors. Frye pops to the top. Kanter is sagging so he is no help and Favors is dead to rights.

PLAYBOOK – The anatomy of an almost perfect inbound

The Jazz had the ball with .7 seconds to play and Tyrone Corbin and his staff drew up the perfect inbound pass to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves. The only issue is that Paul Millsap somehow missed the lay-up.

This was a perfectly executed play. The Jazz start in the picked fence at the free throw line. Harris makes the first action from the end of the fence toward the ball bringing his defender with him.

Harris continues toward the ball curls to the sideline. Ridnour of Minnesota protects the corner for the pass to Harris. This allows Tinsley great sight lines. Perfectly timed Hayward makes a flair to the basket. Millsap is holding onto Love waiting for the pick to come.

Harris continues his route. Hayward stops and comes back to set a back pick on Love. Jefferson slides to the left wing to open the passing lane and bring his man with him. Hayward’s pick is a thing of beauty.

Tinsley let’s the pass fly before Millsap is all the way open. Great anticipation. Jefferson’s well timed movement to the wing has opened up the play for Tinsley to get the ball to Millsap. Webster is guarding Harris and realizes that Millsap is breaking to the basket off the pick but because everything is so well timed he is too far up the lane to make an impact. Wes Johnson is overplaying Hayward trying to make sure he doesn’t come open and never realizes he needs to help on Love.

We can stop the play here because it is all perfect. The pass is perfect. The timing was impeccable. The cuts were sharp and by the time the Wolves had a chance to react it was too late. Worth noting that Devin Harris is going to be very open at the top as well.

PLAYBOOK – Great rotation defense by Utah Jazz Youngsters v. Dallas

One play against Dallas showed me the growth of the Jazz young players. It was the final play of the 1st quarter. The Jazz had Watson, Burks, Miles, Favors and Kanter on the floor.

The Mavericks ran a high pick and roll with Terry and Nowitzki, one of the best late quarter combos in the NBA.

The Jazz play the pick and roll correctly pushing it to the side of the floor. Burks gets on Terry’s left shoulder and Favors reads the defense perfectly cutting off his sideline drive and making himself big.

Terry makes the pass back to Dirk and Watson rotates perfectly to Nowitzki at the top. The key here is look at Favors. He has already started his sprint to the corner to help Watson and Kanter is alert enough to realize he is going to need to be a part of this as well. This is the growth of these guys.

Roddy Beuabois gets the ball in the corner, he is not a great outside shooter so the Jazz are fortunate. However, Kanter closes hard and fast forcing him off the three point line. Burks has also done a nice job coming down to help on Kanter’s man. CJ has too be on his toes for a skip pass to Carter.

Favors is the next line of defense after his super effort to get over to the weakside after being part of the pick and roll defense and he forces Roddy into a bad shot and the Jazz get a stop.

PLAYBOOK – How the Spurs got Richard Jefferson’s three late in the game?

The Spurs took their time getting into the set and had perfect spacing to start the play.

Jefferson three #1

Bonner in the left will hold Jefferson, Neal and Richard Jefferson on the right wing. Interesting move by the Jazz to have Millsap defend Duncan because he is a better pick and roll defender. Tony Paker and Tim Duncan are setting up the pick and roll.

jefferson three #2

This is the breakdown by the Jazz. Devin Harris pops out onto the right shoulder of Parker. This means Millsap needs to go right and cut off the Parker drive. Instead, Millsap goes left and shades out to the outside of Duncan leaving Parker a wide open lane for the drive. This is a major miscommunication. Earlier in the play, Harris looked over to the bench for the defensive call and he moved first. Not sure whose fault this is, but this is where the play breaks down. The Spurs genius from here is their patience and spacing to take avantage.

jefferson three #3

Josh Howard does a nice job attacking Parker to stop his drive. Jefferson and Howard moved to where they needed to go. Howard came from the right block and stops Parker.

Jefferson three #4

Hayward slides down to take the passing lane to Richard Jefferson away. Big Al has left Bonner completely to stop Parker. Parker makes the natural pass to Neal

jefferson three #5

Neal immediately moves the ball as Hayward gets back. The best part of this shot is look at Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner. Both of them are shooter ready. Jefferson even has his legs bent. Josh Howard didn’t waste a moment. The minute he could he turned toward Jefferson but it was too late.

jefferson three #6

Richard Jefferson nails the three. Give the Spurs credit. The Jazz made a mistake early in the defense and the Spurs had the paitence, the perfect spacing, ready positons, and the completion of the play. From a Jazz standpoint this is why 5 guys have to be on the same page the mistake at the point of the pick and roll was too much to recover from even though 4 of the 5 players did the correct thing.