Timberwolves Get A Lesson From Los Spurs On Exploiting Mistakes To The Fullest
Defense mistakes can be "earned" either by talent or system. LeBron James creates mistakes because nobody can guard him one on one. "System" mistakes occur when an offense forces defenses to make choices about what to guard with the hope that either the decision will be wrong, or even better their will be indecision. I've talked about this with respect to the Blazers at excruciating length, but really there is no better team in the league at probing for and then ruthlessly exploiting the smallest error and the tiniest deficiency in an opposing defense. Last night's fairly comfortable Spurs win provided some fantastic examples.
First of all, the Spurs predicate a lot of their action on quick early ball reversal. As discussed in the context of Indiana's defense, ball reversal is one of the more difficult things for a defense to deal with, especially for modern defenses which depend heavily on flooding the ball-side of the floor with defenders. The Spurs use this simple technique early in possessions to change the angle of attack and get defenders just slightly out of position. Then they pounce on the most minor of missteps.
Here for example, early ball movement has gotten Corey Brewer slightly out of position, where he is then buffeted by screens allowing Kawhi Leonard an eventual layup:
However, simply stopping the initial action or even recovering more or less perfectly from a small mistake is often not enough against the Spurs, who are well drilled to immediately attack any miscue. Even if the next player does not have create a shot, the Spurs really are excellent at keeping the defense in a scramble as these next two plays will illustrate.
In the first example, the initial break down occurs when Danny Green back cuts a defender overplaying a down screen:
Of course, a lot of this is personnel. Tony Parker's non-stop movement and Tim Duncan's never-ending greatness put something of a floor on the worst offensive possessions possible, but the combination of talent and system allows the Spurs to grind out good shot after good shot by putting the defense to tough decisions many times per possession, which over the course of games, series and seasons add up to offensive greatness.