Bucks' Game-Clinching Play vs. the Pacers

Over on NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti broke down a key play from late in Indiana’s loss to Milwaukee yesterday. Honestly, when a team that has won 11 of its last 12 games has a home date with the Pacers, the real “game clinching” play is probably the opening tip, but Sebastian does give us a nice look at how the Bucks pounded the final nail into the coffin.

Here’s the set-up:

When the Bucks entered the fourth quarter against the Pacers, it looked like it was going to be an easy 12 minutes.  The Bucks were leading by 14 at the start of the fourth, and have only allowed 62 points to the Pacers.  However, the Pacers decided to make things interesting in the fourth quarter.  In fact, with 2:19 left a Solomon Jones dunk made the score 90-94, cutting the lead to 4 points.  The Bucks were reeling and they needed a bucket to try and put the game away.

Sebastian then shows exactly what happened in full detail, but the gist is that Solomon Jones and Brandon Rush collectively misread/mishandled a simple up-screen from John Salmons that freed Andrew Bogut for a wide-open bucket at the rim.

Rush, by an large, is a pretty good defender — especially by this roster’s standards. He guards his man rather well when he has the ball and, as we saw in the Laker game during the last West Coast trip, he definitely has the chops to slow down even elite scorers.

But he still does slip up on a lot of the more nuanced stuff. He doesn’t fight through screens consistently and often gets caught napping or just out of position. Veterans are all too often able to find free space while he is guarding them by employing some relatively run-of-the-mill cuts. Sometimes, they don’t even need a screen to get open for a good look.

Of course, this probably isn’t the best representation of Brandon failing in this regard — Solomon simply cannot allow a guy like Bogut to get that much separation so close to the hoop. Most of this bucket is probably on Mr. Jones. Still, Brandon is too often involved in multi-player defensive break downs like this, and his defensive development is not going to progress much beyond where it currently is if he cannot make better off-the-ball decisions/reads.

He seems to have all the foot speed, strength and soft skills to learn how to do everything on the defensive end better. He looks like he may have the potential to be a key perimeter presence in a very good defense some day. That, combined with his shooting and his ability to get to the hoop on occasion is what made a lot of Indy fans glad that the rumored deadline deal with the Bobcats never happened.

The rest of this year and the 2010-11 season will be all about him putting it all together.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTn0vkIIbO4&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

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Tags: Andrew Bogut Brandon Rush John Salmons Milwaukee Bucks Solomon Jones

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