Ben Simmons didn’t shoot the ball well last night, just 3-13 from the floor, and while all the talk surrounded his first real NBA three-point attempt, we got some pretty good quotes stemming from the way LeBron James defended him.
I would like to share those quotes with y’all.
To start, if you watched Ben with the ball last night, you saw LeBron do a bit of sagging as he invited him to shoot from distance. On other occasions, he would attack the dribble hand-off in order to close the gap to the perimeter.
Simmons talked a bit about that in relation to his shooting and the DHO option he was given based on the Lakers’ defensive setup:
“I have a guy, JJ Redick, who loves coming off hand-offs and knocking down shots, so I mean for him he loves it, his eyes were wide open. Getting to that and then you see LeBron trying to sprint up when you see me going to the hand-offs, which is easier to get the roll. We just see what we have.”
And here’s a second quote, more specific to the three-point try from the third quarter:
“In terms of that, I’m just taking what they give me. If I see someone backing up and JJ’s coming off, I’m going to give it to him. I will start pulling up, but that’s not one of those things that I’m looking at, it’s not everything. I’m not focused on just doing that, I’m going to play my game, play my strengths and continue to try and get that.”
No, he’s not going to force it if he doesn’t have to, and this clip is a perfect example of that:
LeBron is going to sit back and allow Ben to shoot from deep, but if Redick can move high, receive the hand-off, and get the relatively open look, wouldn’t you rather have a career 41% three point shooter fire away?
On that particular play, LeBron was passive and gave Redick way too much space, but on other occasions he blitzed the hand-off, as Redick explains:
“LeBron, for the most part, did a really good job of reading when Ben was coming to DHO with me and he would kind of sprint up into, what we call a ‘red up,’ so just a quick red, a quick switch. We ran an ATO (after timeout play) in the fourth quarter when I hit that three at the top of the key. That was to specifically take advantage of LeBron being in the paint off of Ben.”
In the Sixers’ defensive lexicon, “red” is code for “switch.” So a “red up” would mean exactly what Redick just said – a quick step to the perimeter with a switch.
Here’s an example of that, with LeBron stepping into the switch to attack the DHO and force the ball out of JJ’s hands:
In that case, as a counter, Redick just gives the ball back to Simmons and they simply swing it back to the other side for the bucket in the paint. You see how quickly they move from action to action when the first and second option just are not there.
Again, does it make more sense for Ben to fire away, or get the sniper involved instead? This is what the spacing looked like when LeBron began his “red up” to close off Redick:
In that sequence they just kept the ball moving and got a bucket at the rim. In other cases, Ben can step into a wide open shot. And in the first video clip I shared, you’re going to be able to spring your best pure shooter for an open look coming off a DHO. Go back and watch some clips of the game and the LeBron vs. Ben matchup gives us a lot of good snippets to look at Simmons’ decision making based on the amount of space he was being given.
As far as Redick operating with Tobias Harris, another 40% three-point shooter on the floor, JJ said this:
Yeah, you’re getting sort of a sense of how we can play. Actions are the same, but I’m coming off DHO’s with Joel and there’s a third defender at the nail, you know, that’s how teams are guarding it for the last couple of weeks. So, we’re getting to that second side. Jimmy got a downhill attack. T.J. got some stuff when I was coming off floppy where they were sending that third defender.
When JJ says the “the nail,” that’s the middle portion of the free throw line. They call it the “nail” because there literally is a nail driven into the court, which is then used to measure and line the other parts of the floor.
Conceptually, he’s talking about that third defender sitting near the middle of the foul line and meeting him when he comes off an Embiid screen or hand-off near the top of the three-point line.
This happened during the flow of the game and I don’t think it was necessarily planned defense, but this is the third defender idea that JJ is talking about:
When Redick comes off the DHO, he’s met by former teammate Mike Muscala right in that “nail” area, which leaves Mike Scott open for the bank shot three-pointer, which I don’t think he called.
In the most simple terms, when that third guy comes over, you’re gonna have a 2v3 on the hand-off side of the play, which leaves a 3v2 on the weak side instead. Somebody is going to be open, and this time it was Scott, because Muscala was near the nail and trying to cut off Redick instead:
Good win, good quotes, good study material moving forward. We’re gonna have a lot more to look at when Boston comes to town tomorrow.