Kyrie Irving

People always stop me in the street and ask, “Arse, what does great defense look like?” This is what great defense looks like. This post is about following through on your responsibility for the full possession. It’s Blake Griffin vs Ed Davis, note that this is one possession.


The action is underneath the basket where, just coming from the out-of-bounds play, the Clippers want to get Griffin a touch by setting a screen for him in hopes that he finds a gap of space.

Good Thing Ed Davis Did #1: He fights through the screen without giving Baron Davis enough time to make an entry-pass. For the Clippers POV, if Davis is late on that fight-through, this is a layup for Griffin because Baron has been eying the pass for some time now.

Good Thing Ed Davis Did #2: The Clippers now try to post-up Griffin, who is pushed out further than he likes by Davis already. Even now, Davis is denying the ball effectively without fronting him, the entry-pass is too risky for Baron Davis to make and Ed Davis has good enough position that he can recover on a Griffin spin-move.

Good Thing Ed Davis Did #3: The Clippers swing the ball looking for a better entry pass down to Griffin, Davis has now switched position and is fronting Griffin. Any pass to the block is impossible and given Davis’ reach and leaping ability, the Clippers will not attempt a lob.

Good Thing Ed Davis Did #4: With the shot-clock now down to 7, the Clippers finally manage to get the ball to Griffin who is being played tight in a face-up situation. Davis doesn’t concede the five-foot jumper and is putting his bets on his quickness to stay with Griffin. Time is the Clippers’ enemy at this point.

Good Thing Ed Davis Did #5: Griffin’s drive is well contested and Davis’ reach and ability to recover on defense comes into play for the block. Griffin tried to muscle Davis out and succeeded to some degree because he did get a shot off, but Davis measured his position well enough to know that he would be able to contest.

Great defense isn’t about making one spectacular play, it’s about doing the right things throughout the whole position. In this one possession we saw Ed Davis:

  • Fight through a screen
  • Deny the ball at the elbow
  • Front in the paint
  • Take away space in a face-up
  • Time his contest to get the block

That is great defense.