Film Room – Nuggets Switching Screens to Perfection Versus Suns

The Denver Nuggets played tremendous half court defense against the Phoenix Suns in their 105-99 victory at the Pepsi Center. Below is what was originally supposed to be a few clips that turned into a mass quantity of clips documenting the Nuggets’ successful implementation of their switching scheme.

A couple of things I forgot to mention in the video was that switching defenses are usually employed to prevent a team from getting open perimeter shots. Give the coaching staff and players credit for having the guts to implement the switching scheme and stick with it. Secondly, I forgot to mention that Nene and Kenyon did a very good job of not reaching.  It is easier to reach than move your feet and they both expended the additional energy to play defense with their legs and not their arms.

The one comment I will make is I was disappointed that George Karl fell off the wagon and chose to play Anthony Carter over Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo. The Nuggets won and Carter obviously did not make any crippling plays, but I thought Lawson was doing a good job of defending Nash and Afflalo was playing exceptionally well defensively. I would have greatly preferred to see Afflalo in the game down the stretch, but as the Nuggets did pull out the victory it does not make for a very convincing case.

Even so, as was pointed out during the Altitude broadcast, give Carter credit for answering the bell and playing solid basketball.

I also thought the Suns desire to push the pace probably contributed to their downfall. Coming off a tough home game the night before against the Magic, their breakneck pace probably contributed to the outcome in the Nuggets’ favor. The Suns ran Denver out of the gym in the second quarter, but in the second half the Nuggets were much quicker to loose balls and seemed to have a little more spunk to their movements. Plus we have seen the Nuggets settle for jumpers when they become fatigued and I think the Suns played into the Nuggets hands a little bit as they settled for jumpers for much of the second half.

Congratulations to Denver on a good win, but as I pointed out after the loss to the Pistons, the Nuggets do not prove their worth winning home games, but winning road games. Still, a loss to the Suns in that situation would have been devastating and Denver deserves credit for pulling out a hard fought win.

Featured Blogs: Valley of the Suns | Bright Side of the Sun

I thought it was interesting Michael at Valley of the Suns mentioned the game last January where Grant Hill lost his balance at the end of a game in Denver. I expected the no call against Nene at the end against Nash would bring back old memories of that finish for Suns fans and I guess it did.

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  • Stumbleweed

    I dunno, I still hate the switching… it works occasionally, but normally it just creates mismatch after mismatch. Nash was just abusing us every time we switched on him in the first half, either going right past the big or driving then stopping on a dime for a pull-up (which he makes at well above 50%). I dunno, you can do that against some teams, but I think we would’ve been better-served not switching EVERY TIME, especially when it creates such big mismatches (Nash on Nene, Amar’e on Chauncey/Afflalo)… you only win that battle a handful of times, and we got lucky in this game. There were probably 20 times when I was yelling at the TV as Chauncey or another guard lazily stayed behind after a pick instead of fighting through it, leaving Nash to kill our bigs. Only once did K-Mart block his shot, the rest were pretty much makes or dishes for makes.

    To me, the switching only works well when they’re also doing that high-pressure trapping scheme… and that’s really just because it makes the ball-handlers so uncomfortable and constant mismatches. The only thing I’ll say for the switching is that it made the Suns take a lot longer to get into their offense than normal and it did keep them from getting a bunch of open threes — J-Rich was basically a ghost for that reason. I just think if Nash had kept being aggressive like he was in the first, we would’ve lost this game because the switching generally doesn’t work with such a skilled PG who can nail the pull-up at a high rate. He started passing off for whatever reason and the switching kept a man on the shooters so their offense died. Maybe the scheme scared him off of his shot, but it seems like he was just trying to get everyone else going.

    Anyway, good win, hopefully we can take care of business against a dangerous Thunder team that won’t give us any slack. Here’s hoping that JR can get his deep shot going too, we really need that to keep teams at arms length. The Suns gave us this game with their execution in the final minutes (the refs did their part too) and Gentry sealed the deal by getting tossed… again, I think we were lucky rather than good in this game and that needs to change before we really deserve the #2 spot in the West. Nene and K-Mart did a fabulous job on Amar’e too.. definitely worth mentioning.. 7 TOs??

  • Stumbleweed

    Er, “To me, the switching only works well when they’re also doing that high-pressure trapping scheme… and that’s really just because it makes the ball-handlers so uncomfortable and that makes up a bit for all the constant mismatches.”

  • runningdonut

    I really don’t like switching either. They didn’t do a good job exploiting it after we took away their transition game. Nash knew how to beat it but they turned it over too much and didn’t look for anything but jumpers that second half. Solid win though and the effort and energy was great second half. 15 offensive boards. In retrospect it was a solid plan to beat Phoenix, I’m still just not in love with it. Really glad Afflalo bounced back and agree he should have been in that 4th quarter.