The Spurs cruised to another sound victory in Game 2 on Tuesday night, posting an effective field goal percentage of 54% and shooting 52.9% from three. San Antonio certainly deserves credit for finding the open man and taking high percentage shots. Nevertheless, a look back at the film shows that in this contest Vince Carter did the Spurs some favors. The Spurs took advantage of Vince Carter all game as he consistently gambled, tried to double team, was out of help position, and was just generally lost. Maybe Vince was thinking about summer vacation spots or what he was going to have for dinner. Either way, the effect was porous.
In Game 1 Vince Carter gave the Grizzlies a good performance scoring 16 points on 6/7 shooting in just under 20 minutes. I highlighted his impressive early effort in Game 1 in the last Spurs Playbook post. But in Game 2 Carter was 2/7 from the field with just 4 points in over 17 minutes.
If Carter is not scoring, then he serves no purpose on the floor. Tony Allen and Lance Stephenson are much better defenders and at least allow the Grizzlies to compete. Unfortunately for Memphis, Vince did not show up and the Spurs took advantage:
In this play, Vince Carter is guarding Kevin Martin, whose sole purpose on the floor is to shoot. Vince is in help position as Parker is driving off a pick and roll. Carter fails to stop Parker's penetration and is late recovering when Tony kicks it to Martin. If that's the effort he is going to give on the help, he could have at least stayed at home to prevent the three.
This play is downright abysmal defense. Here Carter is matched up with Danny Green (another shooter) but for some reason, Carter starts the play in a weak double team of Kawhi Leonard. He is so far from Kawhi that he poses zero threat and is just leaving Green open. Parker then lobs it into Duncan, and Carter lazily moves down towards Tim for another weak double team. Timmy immediately gives the touch pass out to Green who cans the three. Vince doesn't even attempt to get a hand up.
In our next iteration, Kawhi Leonard is posting up and Vince is guarding Danny Green who is surveying for the entry pass. First of all, Vince is giving up way too much room to a player who is capable of pulling the three from there. Second, with Matt Barnes pinned by Kawhi, Vince's job is to make the pass as difficult as possible. He should be up onto Green disrupting the entry pass. He does no such thing, and Leonard gets an easy score.
The Grizzlies are only down by 14 at this point! There is no excuse to not be locked in.This is the playoffs. On the True Hoop TV Podcast yesterday, David Thorpe talked about how the great defensive teams are connected. He made the analogy that you could tie a rope to the five defenders shoes and as you move it, each player moves in concert. Basketball coaches call this playing defense on a string. I think Vince's Game 2 defensive performance would be the non-exemplar.
Looking ahead, the Thunder loom as another team who does not play defense on a string. Memphis, to some extent, is excused given their personnel. To their credit, they have been an extremely good defensive team in recent history. Conversely, the Thunder simply collapse in crunch time on the defensive end. When Raymond Felton is torching you in playoff games, there is a problem. The Spurs will always make the right play if there is a defensive breakdown, and you just can't take plays off and expect to beat them 4 out of 7 times.