Tag: Defense

Carmelo Anthony Panda

Melo thinks the perception of his defense is team-centric


Yeah, no, Melo’s not backing down on this criticism of his defense.

After saying yesterday that it was a matter of unfamiliarity last season and a flawed perception, Melo continued his media cruising for his shoe with a conversation with Grantland. And this time, it’s all about the team. Kind of.

You said you want the Knicks to be known as a defensive team. Where does that start?

It starts with everybody. But I was telling somebody earlier, it’s like New York has never been known for being a defensive team. It just so happened with the trade that happened with me coming here, it’s like New York is strictly an offensive team. But we want to end that. If I were to [go] to another team and they were, quote-unquote, “known for playing defense” then I’d be known for being the best defensive player in the league. But now I came to a team that’s not known for playing defense, it’s like “he’s the worst defensive player and they’re the worst defensive team.” But we can’t worry about that. We’re good. We know what we have to work on and talk is cheap.

Do you take it personally when people say that you’re not a good defensive player?

Absolutely, absolutely. I understand where it came from. I know why it was said, but that’s neither here nor there.

via Q&A: Carmelo Anthony – The Triangle Blog.

So the perception of him that was formed in Denver… was based out of the team he was traded to. Got it.

The thing is, there’s some truth going on here. Defense in the NBA is analyzed on two levels by most people. Effort and ability. Andrea Bargnani is a terrible defender because he doesn’t care. Steve Nash is a terrible defender because of his back and size. Neither of these analyses cover the fact that their offensive systems sacrifice several core defensive principles with the goal of increasing offensive percentages. If Anthony went to Boston, he’s going to be a good defender. He’s tall, athletic and has a high level of basketball intelligence. Trade Anthony for Pierce, and the drop-off is going to be negligible, if at all. Send him to L.A. and he’s another big player in a big front line.

But there are still problems. You can’t put Anthony on an island and expect him to hold his opponent scoreless in ISO. His communication is lacking. There are areas to improve. But the biggest issue is that Melo seeks to deny or alter the perception instead of taking responsibility. That’s the only way he’s going to grow into the defensive leader the Knicks need him to be.

Lakers don’t expect major changes to defensive scheme under Brown

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Mike Brown

The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Medina recently sat down with Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person to talk about all things Lakers. It’s an interesting interview, and I recommend reading the full piece, but one particularly interesting part of the interview came when Person was asked about how the team will play defense under new head coach Mike Brown:

“I think the basic [defensive] scheme will be the same. We’ll keep the ball out of the middle of the floor, force the ball baseline without getting beat, come over from the weak side to do what we call “trap the box,” and make sure the ball stays out of the paint. We are going to shrink the floor and invite opponents to shoot with a contested hand on every shot, so that won’t change from last year. What will change is we will have the players be held more accountable for executing our defensive philosophy and defensive game plans from game-to-game. Mike won’t have any leniency when it comes to that end of the floor. He’ll allow them to make some mistakes offensively, but there won’t be much room defensively for guys to go off on their own and do things outside of the defensive system that we implement.”

Person notes that the team did implement a new defensive scheme last season, and it’s worth noting that the Lakers have been a top-6 defensive team in each of the last two seasons. Brown is known for his defensive coaching acumen, and the schemes he brought to Cleveland completely changed the culture of the team, but I don’t believe it would be reasonable to expect a similarly dramatic culture shift in Los Angeles next season.

Warriors GM says team is not shopping Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis tree tattoo

Monta Ellis’ name has popped up in trade rumors over the last few weeks, and some have been wondering if the Warriors have been shopping Ellis, who has been putting up huge numbers over the last two seasons while leading the Warriors to little success.

However, in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe, Warriors general manager Larry Riley maintained that the team is not trying to shop Ellis:

“We are not shopping Monta Ellis. It is business as usual here. I think you have to look at what just happened in the Finals — it seemed like Dallas played pretty small guards throughout that series with Miami and did a pretty good job of it. Our problem is not the small backcourt. Our problem is defense.”

That’s an interesting statement, because the Warriors’ “small backcourt,” specifically Ellis, is one of the major reasons why defense has been such a problem for the Warriors, perhaps even the main reason. Ellis is a very talented scorer, but by all accounts he does not play defense, and the numbers show that the Warriors got much, much worse defensively when he was on the floor last season.

New coaches Mark Jackson and Mike Malone might be able to get Ellis to buy in to some kind of defensive system that can make use of his speed and willingness to gamble for steals, but right now it seems hard to believe that Ellis can be effective when he’s not surrounded by players that can cover for him on defense, which Steph Curry, Dorell Wright, and David Le cannot do. I encourage you to read the rest of the interview, which includes Riley’s thoughts on the team’s defense, new coach Mark Jackson, and the once-promising Andris Biedrins.

NBA Playoffs: Miami’s defense lets them down

Dirk face on joel

When something goes right for the Miami Heat in these playoffs, something else invariably goes wrong. When Wade is on his game, James seems to be off of it. When James and Bosh are making music on the pick-and-roll together, Wade seems to be stuck dribbling into traps and firing up ill-advised jumpers. When the team attacks the paint effectively, the role players fail to knock down threes. When the role players are hitting threes, the team forgets to attack the paint. The Heat managed to get to the Finals and take a 2-1 lead without ever seeming to play a gorgeous game of basketball, a game that forced everyone to sit back and watch with their mouths agape at just how dominant the talent Pat Riley collected can be.

On Thursday night, the Heat finally got their offense to hum. James didn’t score much, but he was anything but passive, putting pressure on the defense, forcing double-teams, and making the right pass time after time. When Wade wasn’t in the locker room nursing his hip, he was just as dominant as he’s been all series, slicing into the Maverick defense and making the simple pass or impossible shot with equal amounts of confidence. Bosh attacked both the paint and the offensive glass with vigor, and had as good of a game as can be expected from a tertiary option. The role players knocked down three after three to keep the Dallas defense honest, with Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers going a combined 7-10 from downtown. It was the kind of offense we’ve been waiting to see from the Heat all playoffs.

Naturally, all of that occurred as the Heat played their worst defensive game of the playoffs and ended up losing by a final score of 112-103. Dallas shot a ludicrous 13-19 from downtown, with many of those threes being either contested or off-the-dribble, can’t be blamed entirely on Miami’s defense, but there’s no doubt that Miami’s swarming, suffocating defense failed to show up.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry were allowed to dribble into shots that they make with the frequency that most players knock down layups. Nowitzki continued to play whoever was guarding him like a violin and got himself to the line for 10 free points. Tyson Chandler was allowed to roll to the rim and dunk with impunity. Some of Dallas’ threes were the kind of shots you simply must admire and move on, but a good portion of them were unguarded.

If Miami had played anything resembling the brand of defense they’ve made a priority since Day 1 of training camp and have played throughout these playoffs, they’d be going back to Miami with a 3-2 lead. Instead, they will have to win two in a row to avoid infamy. Of course, it could also be said that Miami would have been on the wrong end of a shellacking if they’d played the type of offense they have played throughout the playoffs. Such are the oddities of perspective.

Even with Dallas making everything they sent towards the basket, Miami once again had a chance to put the game away in the fourth quarter when they led by four points with four and a half minutes left to play. However, they once again failed to close the game, with three empty possessions from LeBron James and 9 points on three-pointers from Jason Kidd and Jason Terry swinging the game and the series to Dallas’ favor.

What does Miami have now? A lot of things they do very well, and no more margin for error in putting it all together. If Wade and James can continue to be aggressive and work off of each other, Miami will be effective offensively. If Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers can keep hitting threes, the paint will continue to be open. If Chris Bosh can continue to be effective and attack off the dribble, life becomes easier for everybody. If Miami can play their brand of defense without letting their offense devolve into AAU basketball, they should have no trouble dominating the Mavericks from wire to wire. If they hadn’t blown a double-digit fourth-quarter lead in Game 2, they’d still be undefeated at home this postseason.

And if Miami fails to put everything together one more time in these finals, they’ll go home without a ring and with the knowledge that they let a golden opportunity to win a championship slip through their fingertips.

Nowitzki: Terry needs to step up in the clutch

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game One

Dallas is now 1-1 in clutch situations in these Finals, but Dirk Nowitzki has an idea of how they could get a little bit better. ESPN Dallas’ Jeff Caplan has the report:

“They keep sticking [LeBron James] on Jet in the fourth quarters and he’s been doing a good job,” Nowitzki said. “Jet hasn’t really been a crunch-time, clutch player for us the way we need him to.”

Terry, who has gone a combined 0-7 from the floor in the fourth quarters of the Mavericks’ two losses, acknowledges James has done a good job on him late in games, but doesn’t think James’ defensive success on him will continue:

“They know to take me out of the fourth quarter, which they didn’t do in Game 2,” Terry said of the Heat’s choice to turn to James defensively, “then they got a good chance.”

Added Terry: “Let’s see if [James] can defend me like that for seven games.”

“I had two opportunities,” Terry said. “One in the corner for 3, LeBron closed out. The other one in the right corner, LeBron closed out again, didn’t get enough air under it.

“Hey, it happens. If I get those same shots in Game 4, I bet I make them.”

Terry was a key part of the Mavericks’ incredible Game 2 comeback, and taking him out of the Mavericks’ offense in the fourth quarter makes life much easier on the Heat. And while LeBron did do a good job guarding Derrick Rose in the fourth quarters of the Heat-Bulls series, Terry is a better shooter than Rose, so he will have his opportunities to score. Dallas’ ultimate success or failure in the Finals may come down to whether he converts them or not.