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Blake Griffin says Clippers change defensive principles ‘every single game’

Mar 23, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Blake Griffin AP

The Clippers will, in all likelihood, finish the regular season as either the three, four, or five seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. They way they’ve been playing recently, however, winning just four of their last eight, would suggest that some adjustments need to be made internally over the team’s last 13 regular season games in order to prepare for a postseason run that will last beyond the first round.

Like most teams, defense is what the Clippers have been struggling with as of late. Not in terms of overall effort, but the level of execution has varied wildly from game to game, and if we’re to believe the recent comments made by Blake Griffin, we now know the reason why.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

“Our bigs are getting stretched out a little bit,” [Vinny 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.”

Clippers forward Blake Griffin disagreed with Del Negro.

“It depends on our defensive strategy and our defensive principles for that game,” Griffin said. “We switch them every single game. I don’t see that, no, but I’m biased.”

“Our main focus of practice and our theme of practice has been defensively making sure we’re executing our game plan,” Griffin said. “Because like I said, we switch it up every game, depending on who we’re playing and who has the ball and who’s a threat for them.”

Go ahead and make note of the date of these quotes, because this is only the beginning of a core issue facing this Clippers team, and one that will get magnified over time if the team doesn’t advance to the later rounds of the playoffs.

Del Negro is viewed by many as incapable of leading the Clippers past a certain point. If what Griffin is saying is true (and there’s no reason to believe that it isn’t), then the team has no defensive backbone that it can rely on game to game, while he and his teammates are forced to constantly adjust schemes and principles on the fly based on who the opponent is on any given night.

Every team makes adjustments, of course, but the fact that the word Griffin used was “principles” is a bit scary, considering that those should be foundational and not be changing throughout the course of the season.

Regardless of how you view these words, the fact that Griffin’s idea of what should happen defensively is very different than how his head coach views things is not a great sign for the Clippers this late in the season.

  1. mat9844 - Mar 23, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Principles? Scary?
    I think you can substitute the word “plays” for “principles” and you won’t be so scared. BG is simply stating the obvious; every team has to adjust strategies and plays for their opponent. And it’s different for each one. (and he admits he’s biased, being a player)
    Coach Vinny is saying the bigs are being stretched out a bit and need to hustle a little more to close out games.
    This is my take on the quotes, as a Clips fan.
    It’s not scary and it’s not an omen. It’s just a problem that needs to be fixed.

  2. spthegr8 - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    They haven’t switched up the offensive principle’s up tho. FLOP, FLOP & LOB. FLOP, FLOP & LOB!!!!!

  3. jerdogthompson - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    @spthegr8.

    That’s fine, the Clippers can take that.

    As for your Lakers it’s Lead,Lead Lose.

    The fact of the matter is the Clippers will be a 3-4 seed. Your Lakers will make it by the skin of their teeth if at all.

  4. spthegr8 - Mar 23, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    @jerdog
    everything you just said is very true and while I hate too be the bearer of bad news but…………Y’ALL AIN’T WINNING NOTHING THIS YEAR!!! The fact of the matter is, you can’t beat the spurs or the thunder in a 7 game series. & I’m not hating on the clippers,they are fun too watch. I’m Just Saying!!!!

    • dannymac17 - Mar 23, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      “yall aint winning nothing this year!!!”

      its like why even try, right?

  5. michaeljacksonisback - Mar 23, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Blake plays D??? I thought all he did was dunk?! He should learn the moonwalk dunk! HEE HEEE!!!

  6. stayhigh_247 - Mar 23, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Enter Phil Jackson, he already knows how to find the place so he wont be late for work on his first day. They have veterans that he covets, youth and are deep. This is the perfect storm for Phil, plus he gets to stick it to Jim Buss when not sticking it to Jeanie Buss. I like Vinny, but he will never win a ring as a coach, he kinda reminds me of Flip Saunders, good but not good enough. I give Mark Jackson a better chance at a ring than Vinny.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 23, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      What makes you thinm Phil would ever put up with Donald Sterling?

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