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.