Film Room: Defending Screens

The contrast between the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets in the 114-76 demolition last night was quite startling.  One of the biggest gaps between the two squads was how they defended screens.  The Nuggets continue to rely too heavily on switching while the Celtics help and recover as well as anyone in the NBA. 

I have put together several clips that display very clearly the hedge, help and recover system the Celtics use on pick and rolls and the switch and pray system the Nuggets are so fond of. 

Keep in mind the Celtics played defense like this without Kevin Garnett who is a vital defensive cog in their system.  Had KG been on the court it is possible the Nuggets would not have broken 60.

The point is as long as the Nuggets defend screens like this, regardless of the opponent, they will be lit up more often than not.  Switching does rarely work as it did against Orlando and Philly, but against most teams it is like asking Stephon Marbury to show the new female intern his truck.

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  • BeefySwats

    Wow Jeremy, exhaustive recap of a game I hope the Nuggets won’t forget for the rest of the season.

    Your analysis is surgical. These are defensive problems that can be attributed to more than being merely tired from their “8 game road trip” on the second night of a back to back. It is, as you put it, the difference between a team with a system – and a team without one.

    Given that Karl has obviously shown that he is either unable or unwilling to get the Nuggets to commit on defense, how do we move forward? Axe Karl in the offseason, trade Carter, Dahntay, and LK, then bring in defensive specialists?

    I really like the solid core of Melo, Nene, Smith, Chauncey, and Kmart, but we are obviously still lacking the defensive commitment to be a true contender. I don’t want to pop too many overinflated bubbles, but the Nuggets are not winning anything this year, except perhaps another early ticket out of the first round of the playoffs.

    Especially if they play with the (lack of) defensive intensity and focus that you just highlighted so well.