Feb 16

An Unpredictable Switch Derails Trail Blazers

By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers, Clippers
There’s little comfort to be had after an 18-point lead evaporates and results in a loss. Especially when it happens on your home floor like it did tonight when the Trail Blazers fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 74-71. But on this night there is something that might ease the pain a bit. The team knows what went wrong.

Unlike defeats Portland has faced recently, Head Coach Nate McMillan and the team can pinpoint exactly what caused the squad’s offense to wither in the second half. The Clippers made an adjustment and allowed their defense to switch more freely on the Trail Blazers offensive schemes. In turn Portland’s offense was relegated to virtually a one-on-one game.

“The first half they weren’t switching. The second half they were switching everything,” McMillan said. “When you switch everything you take those cuts and those screens that was freeing each other, freeing our guys up, away and that was the thing that they was doing. They were switching bigs on guards and guards on bigs and when a team is doing that you gotta recognize where the mismatch is and take advantage of that.”

The continual switch by the Clippers meant there were mismatches galore in favor of the Trail Blazers. They recognized this, but what quickly became a flustered attack failed to take advantage. Instead they would pass once, maybe twice, or not at all before attempting a shot or penetration. McMillan preached the importance of ball movement to beat the defensive scheme but the execution just wasn’t there.

“Our guards gotta recognize when there is a switch or when there’s a mismatch and you gotta get that ball moving. Try to take advantage of some post-ups in situations like that,” McMillan said. “There wasn’t any movement. Only 13 assists this entire game, I thought that was the difference. We got stagnant the second half.”

Jamal Crawford, who played most of his minutes at the point guard position tonight, emphasized that the team did indeed know what the Clippers were doing. And even with that knowledge they continued to struggle. A major frustration factor for him was where the switch was coming from.

“I think we realized they were switching, it was just where they were switching from,” Crawford said “Sometimes they’d switch from the side and when they do that you can drop the ball to the big guy when he has a guard on him, but then they start switching from the top and they just kept the guard up top. So the big man was on the guard and then they floated up.”

While this knowledge doesn’t change the outcome of the game or the lack of on-the-fly adaptation by the Trail Blazers, it does bring some comfort. Instead of facing an intangible issue like a lack of pride or an unexplainable slump Portland knows what to fix. After a film session or two and some practice Rip City will be ready if another unpredictable switch is thrown their way.


  1. The good thing about tonight is that Nate called the right offenders out. Lets face it, we need point guards that are willing to acknowledge they're not the only ones on the court. It was a difficult fourth quarter to watch, watching the game it was obvious what was going wrong and yet nothing was done about it. '

    Thankfully we're coming up to trade time. I pray we trade for a good point guard, but not at the expense of Wallace, Batum or Aldridge.

    Good job Sarah.

    by Mieke Appel on 2/17/2012 12:32 AM
  2. Hey Miss Sarah: thanks for the blog and a great explanation. I knew they tightened up the defense on Batum and double teamed him a lot in the second half. I noticed a lot of Jamal one on one doing closure and he was being shut down, but I did not know why.

    There was lots of comfort in this game, as the Blazers never gave up, they just couldn't find a way to score; now I know why.
    When Raymond was in the game they wouldn't even put a man on him, and that is sad. Mike Rice said they do that on purpose because they want Raymond to shot, because he is open.
    The bugaboo is we have to be more of a threat at varies positions to prevent this. When LMA is playing they often leave Camby open because he doesn't shot a lot. they leave Felton open because they know he can't shoot like they left Dre open from out side because he couldn't shoot the three, but Dre could take it inside and score or post up his man and score.

    Anyway Sarah, I thought it was a great game, and fatigue with tired legs slowed down our shooting and passing. Plus CP3 woke up from his nap and started playing BB. If he had done that the first half we would not have been ahead by 18.

    by Hg on 2/17/2012 12:40 AM
  3. Hello Everybody! Long time reader here, 1st time poster ;) The fight from our guys last night was awesome; win or lose (unfortunately.... we know which 1 we got), I was/am proud of them (especially w/o LA, against 1 of the league’s best, AND being the 3rd game of a 3x's back... last night was impressive)! Now w/ that said... I hate to be negative... but... I think Felton came into this season out of shape AND he's STILL this way :( Even with our guys' efforts last night AND their mistakes included, I believe we STILL would have won the game if it weren't for Felton; it wasn't just his non-existent shooting (& it's BEEN bad ALL season :( )... his decisions (or lack there of) have been awful 2; I attribute all of this to poor conditioning (not only physical fatigue but MOST importantly is the mental). w/ all THIS said... pls don't get me wrong, what I'm saying sounds negative but I c this as blunt, "tough love," & I think it needed 2 b said by some1; I actually really like the guy (u wouldn't know it from my comments ;) & STILL I feel what he brings to the team is exactly what we need (provided he does what he's capable of doing). I propose that like Dirk (which I respect his game but I'm NOT a fan of, for a lot of reasons ;) Felton should not play any games for 1 mo. so that he can get himself into shape & study the flow of games from the bench.

    by Simpson on 2/17/2012 12:06 PM
  4. Switches are supposed to be unpredictable, that is what good coaches do. Our inability, or should I say hard headedness to counter or use young players that desperatly need playing time, may or may not be the answer but should however be exercised or this team is doomed before we even get near the playoffs. Perhaps if Nate and Raymond spent a week or two in the D-league, it might give them both time to get their heads right and get back in the game. I hear plenty of excuses why things have happened lately, but nothing ever seems to happen in the lineup or style of play.

    by flyroy69 on 2/17/2012 11:57 AM
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