Breaking It Down: Great Defense Personified (Ed Davis vs Blake Griffin)

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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.

52 Comments

      • The Andrea haters hate more than anything else being ignored . Andrea will be here for the next 4 years and will be a member of the first Raptors team to play for a championship , digest that fact and smarten up . Love is far more powerful than hate , believe it .

        • we’ll see about bargs, in the mean time i love how you still read the blog, but don’t comment b/c you think your spiting the bargs haters, i can’t speak for everyone but I love the fact there is less idiocy and more good debates going on here.

        • Thats the stupidest logic I have ever heard. Just cause hes gonna be with us we should accept the fact that he doesn’t put any effort on defense?

    • yeah what gives man us italians have to stick together, remember we don’t even like basketball, our only goal is to give bargnani a furious handjob whenever someone claims he doesn’t know how to play, no more pizza for you….

    • Cesco,

      you know what? By default, people here are allowed to be offensive beyond every limits with any italian (or european) born guy. That’s not a kind of discrimination, it’s called: irony, sarchasm, or even sense of humour.
      The most important thing to keep in mind is: never try to do that with a black player! White people (and bros, obviously) get angry and take it personally if you dare going that way.
      In the while, and just in the same spirit, the sanctification of Ed Davis goes on.

      • The most important thing is for the players to gain confidence and improve as they are doing by keeping most games close and winning the odd ones . At the moment there are no losers on the team , no trouble makers , no discrimination . A victory in front of a full house is a great moral booster . The trouble makers are to be found among the fans and they know who they are.

  1. Totally agree on the little things that people forget about. Setting good screens and fighting through screens are both really important and something most of this team has been pretty awful at for too long.

    While he’s had a few brain farts, Davis has also played some solid pick and roll defence this season. He really has a knack for hedging and recovering. I don’t think there’s another team in the league that winds up just switching everything so frequently, so Jose is left guarding a big in the post, for example. It’s amazing how much I wind up focusing so much on something like hedging and recovering, but that’s what happens to you as a Raps fan.

    • Setting good screens is something that we have to do as a team that lives on the pick and roll and we suck at it. Amir will occasionally get a good one off but we desperately need all our front court guys to start setting real picks and screens instead of the, for lack of a better word, pussy screens they set now.

      Also great point about the hedging. If this team could just play with some basic fundamentals on D and O we would be significantly better.

      Arsenalist, awesome article. You continue to be awesome at this.

      • Setting real picks in the NBA is a lost art which is why you see a lot of moving screens called nowadays by the refs(however, Tim Duncan, Kurt Thomas and Kevin Garnett are the exceptions and set solid screens even though they might look like a dirty play a la KGs pick on Mike Miller on the Miami Heat team when they played the Boston Celtics this past Sunday that looked like a dirty play but was actually a solid pick). Couple that too with palming or carrying the ball lol(smh, shows the standards of the NBA has gone down the drain which is why the new CBA should raise the age for draft eligibility to 21 and cajole the NCAA to have a adequate compensation for the athletes in basketball unlike the 21st century slavery, the NCAA makes the athletes go through in my opinion lol) and travelling, you can see the athletes need to stay back more in college to learn the basic basketball fundamentals lol.

    • and I saw something too with the way Ed Davis defended Griffin, did you notice that he gave Griffin the side away from the paint as a bait for Griffin to muscle his way to the hoop where he can still recover and block or at least contest the shot or shoot a jumpshot that would not go in from there(there are few guys that score away from the paint on both sides(Tim Duncan with the bank shot, Lamarcus Aldridge with the jumphook(which he has perfected this year -surprise,surprise lol) and the Gasol brothers(Marc and Pau) with jumpshots with no bank shot(ridiculous!) or jumphooks too who are offensively talented big men that play above average defense) -That is good defense right there. Hopefully, a lucky kid trying to be a big man in basketball and be a good defender can watch that. I am really sold on Ed Davis(as long as he continues to be healthy I hope) as he has a solid grasp of big man defense fundamentals and he is looking like a real steal in this past draft next to Demarcus Cousins(that has not reached his ceiling yet but still massacred the Lakers on the boards in Staples center in a surprise Sacramento road win, I also shudder to think how good Cousins will be if he can put all the tools together – he is a franchise center in my opinion).

  2. It’s so good to see a post ALL ABOUT D!!! That’s what the N.o B.oys A.llowed game is all about! Perry Jones would look nice with DeRozan and Special Ed, TDots BIG –the Toddlers version, lOl..! Then again Kyrie Irving could stop penetration at the point of attack–I know this post is about Ed but when you have guy like him, you just need to find unselfish players with boundless talent tyo compliment his efforts: IT’S A GOOD TIME TO BE FALLING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK!!!

  3. Let’s pray Davis’ good defensive habits/instincts aren’t completely lost by the tim Triano’s done with him…

  4. wtached the game online with the clips annoucers

    1.called bargs andrea lol
    2.had high praises for my boy jose
    3.said they hope reggie is back for when the teams meet again so blake can shut him up
    4.though they threw bargs under the bus all night they said he is going to be a force if the raps ever get a true centre
    5.was suprised at the crowd because they thought toronto was a hockey town lol
    6.loved demars game and improvement
    7.ed davis was a steal for us at the draft
    8.we need better shooters at the wing positions

    • My flux capacitor comes in handy. We’ll be an up-and-coming playoff contender in 2012-13. If Davis wants to be part of a young, improving core, he’ll stick around…as long as he’s paid market value (or slightly above).

    • and I wont blame him for that – he deserves a better team if this team is unable to contend for the playoffs in 2-3 years, just like we would all go for a better job if it comes with better benefits and a lower workload lol . I would only blame our management and MLSE for turning us into a laughing stock in the league.

  5. Something I don’t get about this sequence – Baron Davis is being guarded by Bargnani. If you’re a point guard, and you find yourself being defended by a 7 footer, shouldn’t you be able to put the ball on the floor and go by him?

    • A very interesting question indeed but if you watch the Raps games with an impartial view i.e. not a hater , you will know that for one on one defense , Andrea is second to none on the team , possibly the best . If none of the wingers can contain LBJ to-night , Jay will put Andrea on him .

      • Quote possibly the most ridiculous comment I have ever read anywhere (on any topic). Cesco, you really need to stop posting nonsense. Do your family a favour and check yourself into a rehab clinic.

        If Brian Cook can go off for 17 against Chicken Biriyani (in limited minutes), then Lebron would break Wilt’s scoring record tonight.

        List of Raptors who are better 1-on-1 defenders than Bargs:
        – Amir
        – Davis
        – Dorsey
        – Evans
        – Bayless
        – Barbosa
        – Weems
        – T. Johnson
        – Carlesimo

        • You forgot Wright on your list , but if LBJ keep pouring it on against the wingers , it is likely that Andrea will be switched on him to slow him down , something that was done the last time they played the Heats .

          • ahhh actually Lebron was playing PF that game… no one “switched” Bargs onto Lebron (Chris Bosh didn’t play).

            How about you start watching games with an impartial view…..

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