Why The Clippers Are Vulnerable: Defending The Three

March 27, 2013

While the LA Clippers will win their first Pacific Division title this year, the team is currently far from the one that went undefeated in December. One of the areas of concern has been the Clippers defense against three pointers. To examine this issue, the BBALLBREAKDOWN team examined all three pointers allowed over a 4-game stretch.

Some seasonal defense numbers:
Overall Defensive Rating: 100.4 Rank: 8
3PT Defense: 35.5% Rank: 21

CHRIS PAUL AND VINNY DEL NEGRO ON THREE-POINT DEFENSE

After the March 19th loss against the Kings, Chris Paul:
“It’s unbelievable how teams seem to shoot the three against us,” Paul said. “I mean, like, seriously, the game in Sac, we’d close out and be like, no way can they make this one again, and they’d keep on making them — and it’s like every night. Sooner or later, hopefully somebody will miss.”

Coach Vinny Del Negro:
“Our bigs are getting stretched out a little bit,” Del Negro said. “They have to have a little sense of urgency in closing out. Some guys can make that adjustment, and some guys are struggling with that but drilled it again today. That’s obviously an area of concern.”


ANALYTICS/REPORTING SUMMARY

1.Total Three- Pointers

We analyzed three pointers attempted in three games. See Methodolgy notes at end for shots excluded.

Clippers 3 Pointers Allowed Table

2. Three-Pointers by Quarter

The Clippers allow significantly less three pointers in the 1st quarter, mainly because their best defensive unit is playing for the majority. Also, Vinny Del Negro’s defensive drills are fresh in their minds, and they haven’t lost energy due to fatigue yet.

Clippers' Three-Pointers Allowed by Quarter

3. Location of Three Pointers Allowed

Three-point attempts are spaced out across the arc-

Clippers' Three-Pointers Allowed by Location

“Deep” attempts are those shots attempted more than a few from the 3-point arc. Opponents did make slightly fewer corner 3s but the Clippers did allow a similar number of open attempts from the corners.

Clippers' Contested Three-Pointers Allowed  by Location

4. Shot Rythym

As one would expect, opponents made more shots when they simply caught the ball & and shot it without dribbling. There is a direct correlation to forcing shooters to dribble and move and lower percentage shots.

Clippers' Three Pointers Allowed Shot Rythym Table

8. Defense on all Three-Pointers

Here’s a breakdown of all shots taken with our analysis of why a shooter was open or if the shot was contested:

Clippers' Defense Against Three Pointers

As you can see a vast majority of the open attempts are either when players are just left open on PnR (24), left open (16),  or open when a Clippers’ player gambled (10+4=14).

RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Don’t leave shooters open or gamble. As obvious as this seems, we counted 30 instances of giving too much room to shooters (16) or gambling (14) that led to open shots. With DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf, and Matt Barnes, the Clippers have athletic players who can rotate and block shots. Don’t get caught watching the ball on the weak side, since that leaves them vulnerable to back screens.

2. Clean up the Pick and Roll Defense. Too often, two defenders rotate to the same spot, leaving shooters wide open behind the arc. Stop hedging so high above the free throw line, taking a big man way out of position to recover and defend.

2a. In the 76ers game, Doug Collins used his center, Spencer Hawes, as a three-point shooter. The Clippers need to know personnel and commit to a certain way of defending. They need to read these situations better, and allow low percentage shooters room to shoot it.

2b. If a cutter gets into the paint, the Clippers need to have defined help defenders. We often saw multiple defenders help on the cutter leaving several others open.

2c. When helping on a cutter, the help defender only needs to get close enough to deter a pass. Don’t get too close, otherwise it’s hard for the help defender to get back to his man.

METHODOLOGY
We took notes (location, defense type, open/contested, etc) on all three-points shots attempted against the Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. Some attempts were excluded like an end of the quarter 3 from Tyreke Evans & several garbage-time launches from Nick Young. A three point shot by DeMarcus Cousin was excluded since it was actually a two. So there certainly is a subjective element to this analysis.

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About the Author ()

Coach Nick is the founder of BballBreakdown and a former high school varsity basketball coach. Follow Coach Nick on Twitter, @BballSource.

Comments (4)

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  1. Birhat Celik says:

    Hope the Clippers will get it under control, but really nice article

  2. Justin says:

    As a clippers fan, I’m not ready to give up on the season yet. But if the clippers do lose in the first or second round, they had better fire vinny and get someone better to fix this!

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