The Trailblazers Miscommunicate Their Way to a Win over the Mavericks

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

On Friday night, the Blazers and Mavericks played to a draw until LaMarcus Aldridge’s buzzer-beater decided the game in overtime.  However, before they got to that point, the Blazers defense had major trouble with the Mavericks’ pick-and-roll with Dirk as the screener.  Let’s take a look at the many miscommunications and missed rotations.

On this first play, Raymond Felton and LaMarcus Aldridge follow Delonte West as he comes off Dirk’s screen.  That leaves the rest of the defense responsible for recovering to the open shooters.  Wes Matthews rotates early to Dirk to deny the pass, but that leaves Jason Terry open on the wing.  Neither Nicolas Batum nor Jamal Crawford get out to Terry in time for the shot.  It wasn’t clear that either player knew which one should be rotating.

On the next play, Aldridge and Felton again follow West off the screen.  This time, both Aldridge and Batum rotate to Nowitzki, but each player assumes the other one will close out.  Neither of them end up getting near the shot.

This time down, the Mavs run a pick-and-roll with Terry and Nowitzki.  Another mixup occurs as Matthews assumes Aldridge is staying on Terry, while Aldridge thinks it’s Matthews’ responsibility.  Terry gets a wide open three as a result.

With the fourth quarter winding down, Portland switches on the pick and roll, leaving Crawford covering Nowitzki.  Batum recognizes this and doubles Dirk as he gets the ball.  Dirks gives up the ball, but Batum never returns to his original assignment.  Shawn Marion is wide open under the basket and gets an easy layup.

In overtime, Dirk sets a screen before the Blazers’ defense is set.  Aldridge jumps out to stop the ball handler, but because the defense isn’t set, Batum is late on his rotation to Dirk. Dirk gets an open jumper.

Terry runs off another Dirk screen, and the Blazers double team him, leaving Dirk open.  As seen previously, two Blazers rotate to Dirk, and amid the confusion, neither player provides much resistance.

On this final pick-and-roll, the Blazers switch assignments, leaving Felton to cover Dirk.  Aldridge double teams Dirk, and the Blazers get their rotations mixed up again.  Both Aldridge and Matthews rotate to the open West.  Batum thinks that Aldridge is rotating to cover the hoop, so he covers Terry at the three point line.  Marion finds himself with another open layup.

Despite these numerous miscommunications, Portland won the games on an Aldridge buzzer beater.  Nevertheless, the Blazers remained a little lucky that Dallas didn’t capitalize on all of these blown assignments.


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