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Examining Pick ‘n Roll Defense Prior to Game 6

Last night’s Game 5 was a true test for the Dallas Mavericks in the Mavs-Spurs series. Maybe it’s me being the biased MFFL that I am, I truly thought that the Mavs could pull out a win in Game 5 in San Antonio. Game 6 on Friday night is simply the dreaded “win or go home” situation for Dallas. So I re-watched Game 5 again and one thing that really stood out was the Mavs’ Pick-N-Roll defense.

Comparing the Game 2 & 3 wins to Game 5, the Mavs were extremely lazy on defense. The Spurs were executing the pick-n-roll offense with ease, which was frustrating to watch as a Mavs fan.

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Example 1:

Here’s a Spurs possession where Tony Parker dribbles to the paint off a pick from Splitter. Marion decides to switch off of Parker late and guards Splitter, which gives Tony Parker the advantage on Dirk for an easy layup.


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Example 2:

Same exact Parker/Splitter pick-n-roll play ran on the wing about two minutes later. Ellis defends Parker but doesn’t switch to guard Splitter. This time Dirk is prepared to contest a Parker layup. Parker realizes Splitter is open on the roll and Splitter gets an easy two points.


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Example 3:

Manu Ginobili brings the ball up the court in transition. Tim Duncan sets the pick at the top of the key and rolls to the paint. Ginobili sets back behind the three-point line, which sucks in Monta Ellis and Brandan Wright to guard the perimeter. Ginobili leads a nice pass to Duncan for a layup. The help defense (Carter, Harris, and Marion) wouldn’t have had enough time to get to Duncan for a contest.


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Example 4:

The Spurs came out of the timeout and ran the two-man game with Patty Mills and Tiago Splitter. Splitter sets the pick and rolls to the basket. Dirk and Jose Calderon commit to Mills. Mills hits the “pocket pass” to Splitter for the dunk. Brandan Wright hesitated to provide help defense because he would then free up Boris Diaw.


The Solution:

Knowing Gregg Popovich, he’ll run a good mix of the pick-n-roll on offense since that is seemingly the Mavs’ weakness on defense. Better communication on the court has to happen in order for Dallas to get the defensive stops needed to win Game 6. With Dejuan Blair returning to the bench after his one-game suspension, his presence have an impact defensive to relieve the Mavs’ struggles in the frontcourt.

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