Brandon Jennings has been playing very well as of late. How well? Well, for those of you that have been living in a cave during the past week, he put up 55 against the Warriors recently. The Bucks won the game, but only by 4 points. So what does this tell me, if you can keep Jennings from putting up 55, you have a good chance at beating the Bucks. The Nets play the Bucks tonight, so I thought it would be fun to rewatch that game (Bucks vs. Warriors) and see how the Warriors defended him and if they did anything wrong. Well, they did a lot wrong. Fortunately for us, we can look at what they did wrong, and use that as a “what not-to-do” kind of thing:
Off The Ball Defense
When you are dealing with Brandon Jennings, you must know where he is on the court at all times. He moves well without the ball, so if you are caught peeking, he will cut on you and get an easy look:
Look at how Monta Ellis is playing Jennings. That is wrong. I mean, he is in the right position on the court, but look at how he is just staring at the basketball. Here, Jennings could go backdoor and get a lob with no one trying to stop him. A big key to stopping Brandon Jennings is forcing him to take all jumpers, you don’t want him getting easy buckets. A way to keep him from getting easy buckets is to make sure the guy covering him has an eye on him to prevent backdoor cuts.
Can’t Go Under Screens
If you go under screens with a guy who can shoot the ball, you give him too much room to operate. Not only will he be able to take a wide open shot, but he also gets a pretty good start when he wants to attack the lane. For whatever reason, the Warriors were determined to go under every screen set by the Bucks:
Wait, it gets better, watch this clip:
Brandon Jennings basically zig-zags his way into the paint and goes up for a runner untouched. He just misses it, it wasn’t because there was anyone playing defense. Monta isn’t the only one at fault there, did you see how low Mikki Moore went as Jennings went around the second screen? You can’t do that, you need to hedge the screen hard if you aren’t going to go over them.
The way you cover screens with a guy like Jennings is you go over them, stay attached to his him, and force him to drive the ball into the lane. If your center (or the guy defending the man setting the pick) is playing it correctly, Jennings will drive right into him and force up a tough shot or pass it off.
An interesting note, that stuff is from the first quarter, where Jennings scored 0 points. You could see he was going to have a big night though. Let’s look at some clips from the 3rd quarter where he put up 29 points.
Here is another pick and roll, this time with Jennings scoring on this one. The first problem is Mikki Moore probably didn’t call this screen because C.J. Watson gets absolutely blasted on this screen, but also, look how deep Mikki Moore is.
I guess standing at the foul line is fine, but if you do that, you can’t back up as Jennings drives at you, which is exactly what Mikki Moore does here.
Moore is so far back on his heels, he can’t even contest Brandon Jennings shot. The Warriors were letting Jennings pull up from the top of the key with nobody contesting. That’s a problem. Here is one final screenshot that captures the Warriors defense as a whole:
Brandon Jennings just hit three baskets in a row and look at all of the space the Warriors are giving him. Just as he is catching the ball the Warriors are starting to rotate to him. The Warriors should be on top of him as the pass was being made.
So what does all this stuff mean? Well it means that Jennings won’t put up 55 against the Nets (knock on wood). Jennings got most of his points off of wide open shots coming off the pick and roll. Then once he got into a rhythm, there was no chance to stop him. The Nets actually defend the pick and roll very well (at least initially – more on this later) because Brook Lopez comes out and hedges very aggressively. You won’t see Jennings getting any open looks at the top of the key when he comes off screens. With that being said, Jennings is going to get his. Coming into this game against the Warriors he was the Bucks’ leading scorer averaging 20.7 PPG. You just got to make him work for those points, you can’t let him stroll to the top of the key and take uncontested jumper after uncontested jumper. I think hope the Nets can do that tonight.