Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 4/2/13
When the San Antonio Spurs gave up a game winning layup to Mike Conley and the Memphis Grizzlies, the Spurs faithful may have started losing hope with the team's ability to close out games. If that wasn't enough, it may seem a player on the silver and black may be doubting himself too. Until then...need to shut down my batteries, recharge my engine, look myself n the mirror n regroup...get back to the old me (@DGreen_14) The winning bucket was made over Danny Green but, while the guy is doing some soul-searching, it's not totally his fault. As you can see from this picture, Green is running up to Conley out of position. This is going to give Conley the advantage of crossing over Green with ease (which he did) and the direction he'd choose to go wouldn't matter with the Memphis bigs being stretched out. Marc Gasol playing close to the rim is also a huge factor for Conley because, if Boris bit on helping early in the clock, he'd be open for a pass under the rim. Now Green has given up his advantage as the taller and longer defender by allowing Conley enough room to get past by while he's flat footed. While Green is faulted with that, the Spurs system relies on help defense and this is where the situation gets ugly for the Spurs. Tayshaun Prince now sets a screen for Jerryd Bayless who was in the corner which catches San Antonio off guard. This is where Green's help defense failed him. If there was no screen set, it would've most likely have been Jackson trying for a swipe attempt over him having his back towards the ball. With 3.0 seconds left, Conley would've had to throw a pass around or a high one over Jackson for an outside shot by Prince. If Jackson were to take Parker's place in trying to get the steal with how the play happened, Jackson would've been in front of Conley while Parker would've still been left in front of Prince for a steal attempt while Jackson recovers for Parker  to Bayless who would have been at the three-point line. With Parker now being the protector of the rim, he did the only thing he could do in trying the steal as Conley could easily shoot over him or have an And 1 opportunity. The team also had an opportunity to pressure the ball more with a few seconds on the clock during the drive. With the 3 seconds left, the Grizzlies would've had one shot to shoot with the pass and catch. This is where the Spurs could've done something differently. Matt Bonner was clearly confused on defense. If you watch the game again, he was confused on whether to help or stay close to Randolph. When Conley first tries to make an attempt of going past Green on Danny's right side, Bonner was in perfect place to help. This would've made Conley give it up to Randolph and it's a shot the Spurs would've wanted to have for more than one reason. Randolph is shooting .09% from the 3-point line this season and that's a farther shot than Conley got for sure. Another reason is that Randolph is left handed and the pass was coming from the left hand side. That would've been an uncomfortable shot for him since he would have to catch it on that side, set up, then shoot. It might have taken more time than he would have liked and probably rushed it than the ball coming from his right side where the can get into rhythm. Bonner would've been the only help they may have gotten from a big with this scheme as Marc Gasol played too close to the basket for Diaw to help. The only way that would work is if Bonner would play Gasol as soon as Conley committed to the drive to bail out Diaw who would be helping. This would've been extremely difficult for Bonner since the easier help was too difficult for him on this play. Green played a part in the break down of the defense, but the rest of the team didn't follow suit. He shouldn't be too hard on himself as top defensive players like Kawhi Leonard have needed defensive help from his teammates. We can't forget that even Bruce Bowen, highly regarded as a premiere defender, depended on his help defense. This is a situation where the team should learn  and seek to improve.
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