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The List

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1. Chris Paul is dominating this series so far and he is doing it by getting into the paint off of PnRs with slow, controlled dribbles into the paint before finding the open man. By snaking the screen and keeping the on ball defender on his hip, Paul is able to slowly inch towards the paint while the help defenders…...

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1. Jusuf Nurkic is the key to this series. When he is effective, the Blazers are effective. He is a +54 overall in a series that is almost perfectly even and has fouled out in all 3 of the games that the Blazers have lost. The Nuggets can’t count on him to foul out of game 6 (although they will…...

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1. The Portland Trail Blazers are starting to target Michael Porter Jr. more and more. The key to attacking Porter in PnR is to disguise the action and make the read as complicated as possible. One of the Blazers’ go-to plays for this is a “stack” PnR. https://youtu.be/k6ZKyWnE_AU 2. The other action that the Blazers are going to is a…...

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1. Two games into this series and it is clear that the key battleground will be the Portland Trail Blazers’ pick-and-roll (PnR). In game one, Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets tried defending ball screens by having Jokic step right around the three-point line, a few feet lower than the level of the screen. As a result, Damian Lillard and…...

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1. This first clip provides a nice baseline view of what makes guarding the Portland Trail Blazers so difficult. With three elite floor spacers around the perimeter and two great off-the-dribble three-point shooters in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers are able to set their ball screens well above the three-point line and forcing Nikola Jokic to step far…...

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1. Jokic took 6 three-pointers in the first two meetings with the Blazers and 3 in the first half of the last game. It’s safe to assume he will attempt at least six threes in each game throughout this series. He might need to take even more. He’ll also have to convert them at a high rate. Nurkic isn’t a…...

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1. The mapping out of a play is less than half of the battle in basketball. The timing, rhythm, and subtle reads that each player makes are what determine if a play will generate an open shot or not. The two clips below provide nice examples of this. In the first clip, both Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon elect…...

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1. Some turnovers are solely the result of a sloppy play or a missed reads. Others are heavily influenced by poor spacing that allows the defense to double the passer, crowd passing lanes, and eliminate large portions of the court. The turnover below is a great example of how easy the Nuggets are to defend when they place non-shooters alongside…...

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1. Aaron Gordon’s on-ball defense has exceeded expectations. He had shown flashes of elite defense throughout his career, most notably in the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs where he did an admirable job against Kawhi Leonard over the course of their five-game series. But through four games with the Denver Nuggets, Gordon has looked like a first-team all-defensive…...

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1. By now everyone reading THE LIST is familiar with C Corner, one of the Nuggets’ most commonly used actions. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Nuggets got Aaron Gordon’s first dunk off of this action.  The Nuggets have run this for Michael Porter Jr. and Paul Millsap in the corner spot and have had great success. With…...

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1. The most important aspect of Aaron Gordon’s skillset is his one-on-one defense. He does a great job of keeping his defender in front of him, utilizing his size and strength to contest shots, and moving his feet without fouling. He is more of a disciplined defender than overly aggressive defender, playing the angles and keeping the offense away from…...

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1. I love the way Michael Porter Jr. sets up the dribble handoff (DHO) with Nikola Jokic on this possession. Often times it’s the tiny details that gain you an advantage on any given possession. By getting the defender in the air and off balance, Porter is able to sprint into the handoff and take the wide open mid-range jumper.…...

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1. Zeke Nnaji continues to demonstrate great fundamentals and attention to detail on the defensive end. In the clip below, he closes out on Carmelo Anthony quickly and under control before taking a great angle to cut off Anthony’s drive toward the basket. https://youtu.be/jvw1L-_dLRc 2. Nnaji does a good job of staying locked in both mentally and physically. The mental…...

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1. There are complexities to the game of basketball and there are subtleties hidden in the tiny details of how an NBA team structures their defense. But few of those subtleties matter when a team is as incapable of keeping the ball out of the paint as the Denver Nuggets were against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday…...

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1. People think of “chemistry” as an offensive attribute but is just as much a sign of familiarity and connection on the defensive end of the floor. In the clip below, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic execute a great, quick switch back after Murray gets witched out onto a big. Plays like this as well as seamless rotations are a…...

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1. The most interesting and important detail to come out of Monday’s win over the Dallas Mavericks was Michael Porter Jr. demonstrating a positive defensive impact, in particular on the backside as a helper on PnRs. https://youtu.be/tTcc6g1XuWM 2. He also had a few great possessions defending Luka Doncic, despite Doncic hunting for him on that end of the court. https://youtu.be/HuWtyiWJgP0…...

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1. One of the things that the Denver Nuggets can do to improve their flow in the half court is to improve their timing on secondary reads. In the clip below, Jamal Murray reacts slowly to a backdoor cut that could’ve segued perfectly into a dribble handoff with Nikola Jokic. Instead, he allows the defense to reset before walking into…...

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1. A few weeks ago I highlighted how PJ Dozier got an earful from Nikola Jokic when he wasn’t recognizing a specific cut that Jokic wants from whoever is playing the dunker spot (the spot just outside the paint along the baseline). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn_NREbLj2o On Sunday, Dozier made the appropriate cut without hesitation in one of the highlight plays from the…...

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