Skip to content

Why are the Clippers vulnerable? Defense (or coaching)

Apr 2, 2013, 7:55 PM EST

Vinny Del Negro AP

Before the season started what was the mantra about the Clippers on this site (and most others)?

It’s all about the defense.

With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin (who has a more diverse game than many fans give him credit for), plus Jamal Crawford off the bench, the Clippers were going to score points. A lot of them. And they are fifth in the NBA at 107.1 points per 100 possessions. Between the Nuggets and the Spurs. Which is to say championship level.

The Clippers were always going to go only as far as their defense will carry them. Right now that doesn’t look very far — they are 7-8 in their last 15 stumbling toward the playoffs.

In one of the must read pieces of the day, Mike Prada broke the Clippers defense down like a point guard off the dribble at SBNation.

When they were winning, L.A. was hovering in the top five in defensive efficiency, but things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent weeks. The Clippers have surrendered an average of 105.7 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star break. Only sub-.500 Milwaukee, at 105.8/100 possessions, is worse among the 16 playoff teams. When you narrow the sample to March 1 and later, the Clippers fall behind Milwaukee on that list.

What has caused the Clippers’ tremendous defensive fall? A look at the tape reveals a club that has no coherent plan on how to defend any sort of play.

That last sentence is not followed up with picture of Vinny Del Negro, but it might as well be.

Prada goes on in detail, with images, to show how the Clippers try to vary their pick-and-roll coverages but don’t really execute any of them well. Rather than being really good at one way of handling the play and throwing in other things to mix it up occasionally, the Clips are mediocre at a lot of things.

Which comes back to the question: What is the Clippers defensive identity? Is it to blitz the ball handler, force turnovers and attack in transition? A more patient solid style like the Celtics or Bulls? We don’t really know, the Clippers are kind of a mishmash.

And in just over two weeks that lack of identity could cost them a lot.

Latest Posts
  1. Brandon Jennings leaves game in wheelchair, may have torn Achilles

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:01 AM EST

    Brandon Jennings Brandon Jennings

    Can we just get through the rest of this season without any more major NBA injuries, please?

  2. Report: Celtics may keep Tayshaun Prince if he’s not traded by the deadline

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Brad Stevens reportedly likes Prince, so a buyout may not be in the cards.

  3. Derek Fisher didn’t realize motivating his players would be such a big part of being an NBA head coach

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Derek Fisher AP

    Fisher played 18 years, and claims that his motivation always came from within.

  4. After being fined for obscene gesture, Dwyane Wade asks NBA to improve on ways it protects players from fans

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade was fined for flipping off some fans who he believed crossed the line.

  5. Dwight Howard leaves arena in walking boot after suffering ankle injury against Suns

    Jan 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Dwight Howard AP

    Howard left the game after just eight minutes and did not return.

  6. LaMarcus Aldridge decides to delay surgery, will return for Blazers Saturday vs. Wizards

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:17 PM EST

    Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Aldridge has a tear in his left thumb, and was originally set to be sidelined 6-8 weeks.

  7. Report: Cavaliers players say they ‘had lost faith’ due to lack of depth and roster construction

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Before recent trades, players believed the team would go no further than the second round of the playoffs.

  8. James Harden hits step-back game winner to beat Suns (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    James Harden, Isaiah Thomas AP

    That is as good a step-back jumper as you will see.

  9. Kobe Bryant will be back next season, he can’t resist the challenge

    Jan 24, 2015, 2:00 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    There are $25 million Kobe will be back next season.

  10. If injury is serious, it would go against history for Kobe to be productive again

    Jan 24, 2015, 12:16 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Lakers star could also above and beyond and chase Michael Jordan’s comeback

  11. Kevin Durant: ‘I don’t need the All-Star vote to validate me as a player’

    Jan 23, 2015, 10:15 PM EST

    Kevin Durant AP

    It’s a good thing, because he received fewer votes than Marcin Gortat.

  12. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle: ‘Monta Ellis deserves to be an All-Star’

    Jan 23, 2015, 9:15 PM EST

    Brooklyn Nets v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Maybe, but the field is simply too crowded in the West for Ellis to have a reasonable shot.

  13. Photographer sues Nike over use of iconic Michael Jordan dunk image

    Jan 23, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

    Michael Jordan dunk Getty Images

    I’m no expert in copyright law, but this strikes me as the kind of lawsuit that gets settled out of court.

  14. Rumor: Tobias Harris “wants to win a championship with the Knicks’’

    Jan 23, 2015, 7:15 PM EST

    Tobias Harris AP

    So he plans to play for the Knicks until 2050?

Featured video

Stephen Curry leads NBA MVP race mid-season
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (7897)
  2. L. Aldridge (7507)
  3. D. Wade (7400)
  4. A. Davis (6584)
  5. J. Noah (6229)
  1. R. Rubio (6091)
  2. K. Martin (6050)
  3. J. Holiday (5901)
  4. H. Whiteside (5797)
  5. C. Anthony (5684)