It was brought to attention that Beckley Mason — one of the great lab names of lab names, if only he had a British accent, glasses and bow tie — of hoopspeak.com, made it a point to point out what a horrific job the Wolves did defending against the pick-and-roll (and James Harden) the other night:
The Wolves covered each pick-and-roll the same way: Alexey Shved sends Harden right, away from the screen and his strong hand. But Shved doesn’t really stick with Harden after Harden refuses the screen, in effect leaving him one-on-one with Kevin Love. Because Shved doesn’t contain the ball, Love has no angle to cut Harden off and twice lets him race past him to his strong left hand for the finish.
Spectacular failure all around? Repeat (4x), and you would have the hero-ball, clutch scoring wizardry the Wolves can only dream about. And yet… it would seem to me that if the technicians are finding the way in which you failed, it would be a technicality — a strategic adjustment demanding a greater attention to detail — by which you were done in. Not talent. Not incompetence. Not roster-fied make-up, in need of major panic and retooling. Beckley keeps going, though…
This kind of play has to worry the Wolves as they start thinking about making the playoffs. It’s in those matchups that teams really key in on deficiencies and will relentlessly pressure and weakness. Love and Shved’s pick-and-roll defense certainly qualifies.
Beckley, you were doing well there. You think anyone in the league doesn’t know to attack Love on the pick-and-roll? You think it’s a big secret? On this kind of play? You know why every team in the NBA runs this kind of play? Because in the right hands, this kind of play is practically unstoppable. In the right kind of hands, this kind of play is what makes hall of famers of coaches and point guards and pick-and-pop power forwards. This kind of play makes poetry of big, bruising rollers and baseline cutters and triple threat shooting guards — wait a minute, that all sounds familiar.