The Mavericks did a good job of exploiting mismatches against the Clippers on Wednesday, especially over the first two quarters. They started the game by feeding Wesley Matthews (guarded by Lance Stephenson) in the post, for example, and put Deron Williams in similar situations against Chris Paul later in the game.
Beyond that, the Mavericks did a masterful job of moving the ball and finding the open man. In doing so, they exposed a number of holes in the Clippers’ defense, which may help explain why they’re in the middle of the pack in defensive efficiency to begin the season.
Not being able to contain Stephen Curry in the pick-and-roll is one thing. Letting Deron Williams waltz into the lane for open opportunities is another.
One of the reasons DeAndre Jordan wasn’t a leading candidate for DPOY last season was because he fails to provide much resistance when defending pick-and-rolls. Knowing this, the Mavericks attacked him several times in the first half, like on this play that lead to a floater from Williams at the elbow:
Allowing someone to turn the corner with that much space is never going to end well, especially against a team that can space the floor from 1-4. Raymond Felton hit a couple of midrange jump shots out of the pick-and-roll in the first half, too, and Dwight Powell was the beneficiary of Jordan’s sagging defense on a pair of pick-and-pops.
As was the case against the Clippers, their pick-and-roll defense was a problem.
The Clippers don’t seem to be on the same page at times defensively, which is to be expected seeing as we’re only several games into the season and they’re still figuring out how the likes of Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith and Wesley Johnson fit into their system. However, playing sound defense for 15 seconds before leaving someone wide open for a 3-pointer or drive to the rim is an absolute killer, especially when it’s because of Jamal Crawford and not one of the new guys.
There were a couple of times when two players closed out on the same player, too. Notice how J.J. Redick and Lance Stephenson run out to defend Wesley Matthews on this possession. Matthews wisely makes them pay by swinging the ball to Felton, who steps in for an open 3-pointer.
For a number of possessions in the first half, the Clippers basically ignored Zaza Pachulia by shading Jordan over to Nowitzki’s side. The image below is from the same possession as above, just earlier in the play. With Nowitzki popping to the left elbow, Jordan is forced to come out, basically resulting in a 4-on-3. Nowitzki makes the unselfish pass to the corner and everything else falls into place.
The Mavericks ran the same play less than a minute later, only this time giving Devin Harris the ball instead of Nowitzki. Because Jordan was out of position, Harris found himself wide open for a midrange jumper following a pick-and-roll with Pachulia.
In the end, the Mavericks scored 118 points on 55.3 percent shooting from the field and 45.8 percent from the perimeter. Other than Nowitzki, only 21 of their 76 field goal attempts were contested and the Clippers wound up with a Defensive Rating of 123.9.