It has been a problem all season, and looks as though it will continue to be one as the Los Angeles Lakers fight for the eight seed in the Western Conference: defense.
The Lakers allowed the Los Angeles Clippers to take nearly every shot they wanted without having a hand in their face, or a presence to possibly alter the shot. The Clippers shot 50 percent from the floor, and 38 percent from the 3-point line. The percentage from beyond the arc is reasonable, but the 50 percent from the field is just a disgusting display of basketball.
We all know that Mike D’Antoni doesn’t teach defense, but a huge part of playing defense is a player’s willingness to make that extra switch, rotation, or whatever it may be. With the Lakers though, it seems as though defense has turned into every man for himself. You don’t see a team like the Memphis Grizzlies or Indiana Pacers, the NBA‘s top two defensive teams, making such egregious mistakes.
A huge part of defense is trusting that one of your players will pick up a guy that just blew by you, and that you’ll make the switch to the open guy, making up for your mistake. With the Lakers though, once you get past their guards one of two things happen: you get fouled by a surprised Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol, or you make your wide open shot.
Seldom do you see the Lakers make the right rotation on defense, and often times you will see a few fluid passes by the opposing team and an open shot on the perimeter.
The game against the Clippers was just a perfect example of the decline of the Lakers defense. Numerous teams (the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets come to mind) have shown the proper formula for beating the overrated Clippers — fundamental defense, minimal rotational mistakes, and limiting turnovers.
The Clippers thrive on fast break offense, turnovers, and the 3-point shot, three areas where the Lakers are poor. The Lakers won’t meet the Clippers again so my point is moot, but any team who plays the Clippers in the NBA playoffs will be best served to eliminate, or keep to a minimum, those three areas. Doing so will guarantee you a win.
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