Shook Ankles: Chris Paul Takes Over Christmas
Throughout last night’s Warriors/Clippers game, transition baskets came in spades. More than one situation saw a Warriors miss come down the other way for a Los Angeles man advantage, ending in an alley-oop or equally easy basket. These sequences are wonderful theatre, and have taken over as the NBA’s number one topic of casual conversation, but when it comes down to winning playoff games and eventually a championship, the Clippers must work well in their half court offense, especially to hold a tight fourth quarter lead. In the clip seen above, Chris Paul doesn’t wow your pants off with an insane handle we know him to be capable of placing on display, but he does manage to turn Golden State’s defense into a marionette puppet.
The first of the two plays is a simple pick and roll with the role of Paul’s counterpart being played by DeAndre Jordan. Running it with Jordan is a bit predictable, because he’s the least likely player in the league to step out for the pop. In certain spots—if a defense wants to double Paul off the screen for example—the fast moving Jordan can be hit for a lob if the defense doesn’t rotate, but mostly the play is to free up Paul and let him work his magic. It takes him about three seconds to put a quick right to left cross on Steph Curry, fake an in and out with his left hand on Kwame Brown, then cross back to his right for an open, and easy, foul line jumper. Piece of cake.
In the next play, Monta Ellis gets a little confused as Blake Griffin slips the screen instead of setting a hard pick. Paul crosses him over anyway, and proceeds to take a run at poor Kwame for the second time. Griffin sets another screen on the backtracking Ellis, making sure he can’t recover, and all of a sudden the Clippers have a salivating Chris Paul vs. Kwame Brown matchup to play with. After wiping the drool from his mouth, Paul keeps his dribble alive and takes the ball back to the perimeter, forcing Kwame out from the painted area. Meanwhile, Griffin intuitively cuts to the basket with a helpless Ellis hanging on to his shoelaces. Paul has two main options here: 1) Hit the overpowering Griffin with a quick pass either over or around Kwame’s head, and at the worst end up with two free-throws, or 2) Step back and knock down a wide open shot. If it misses, Griffin will probably be in position to grab the rebound. But, of course, Paul doesn’t miss.
In both plays Chris Paul exposes the Warriors’ poor pick and roll defense by forcing a switch. He did this over and over and over again in last year’s playoff series against the Lakers, and to no avail it has yet to be solved.