has a good offense yadda yadda yadda but had a terrible defensive philosophy all season and produced the worst defensive coaching in a Blazer postseason series that I've ever seen. I say that being a lifetime Blazer fan since 1983.
The fundamental problems with Stotts's defensive philosophy is that he teaches his players to play with low energy. Here is what I see.
almost (Spurs series excluded) never hedge the pick and roll essentially hanging the on-ball defender out to dry. This makes the defensive post stand around and watch instead of actively disrupting the offense. I consider it disgustingly lazy defense. In game 5 after 93 games without implementing hedges we finally start to hedge the pick and roll against the Spurs. We should have been doing that all season.
2. We were pretty bad at getting through screens all season. This coupled with no hedging made our defense porous at times. Dame is TERRIBLE at running through screens while Wes and Batum weren't great either. To not hedge the P&R and then to not develop the player's screen defense is cancerous coaching.
3. The help the helper rotations were weak all season because the coach doesn't demand excellence in this regard. Helping the helper, and helping the helper's helper is all about drills in practice and attention to detail. Our Blazers improved a lot during the post-season but because we didn't stress helping the helper during the regular season we weren't refined in the playoffs. Good defensive teams collapse hard on penetration and closeout with tenacity. We don't.
4. Our closeouts by LMA and Lopez were terrible all season. The team (Wes excluded) in general wasn't too bad in this regard but we underperformed. There isn't a reason to have below average closeouts except the coach didn't demand it.
5. Players aren't taught to use fouls as weapons. Sometimes we'd foul late in the half to force teams to take the ball out of bounds with a few seconds left but that is the only way we used fouls as weapons and it isn't very effective. I've never seen a Blazer team with less hammer fouls and flagrants for an entire season. When used correctly using fouls as weapons will intimidate the opponent and frustrate them.
6. Coach Stotts admits he designed the defense not to create a lot of turnovers. Listen here around the 3:30 mark.
During the regular season the defense was bad but we still had a solid record and made the playoffs but in the post season a bad defense will keep you from the WCF. What made it worse was that Stotts is
too dumb not savvy enough to understand one-on-one match-ups which should be the easiest thing to get right. Why he thought Wes on Parker or Harden was better than Batum reeks of poor coaching.
What takes the cake and makes me most fearful about Stotts's ability to move our team into the NBA Finals is that even after Parker murked Wes the first two games, Stotts trotted Wes out to defend Parker again in a game 3 loss. That was the
dumbest worst coaching I've ever seen in our Blazer's playoff defensive history.
Then when Stotts is down 0-3 in the series he FINALLY figures out that Batum is the better match-up and starts Batum on Parker in game four and we win! Then in game 5 when Parker goes down with an injury and the game is close, Stotts puts Wes on Patty Mills who is a Tony Parker clone, and Mills ripped Wes apart the same way Tony Parker did. This decision to put Wes on SA's point guard lost us not just game 5 but the entire series.
We all witnessed Stotts destroy any chances of us beating SA because he can't figure out match-ups and didn't stress defense until late in the regular season. He's an all offense coach who doesn't demand a hard nosed defense. He reminds me of Coach Mike D'Antoni and Coach Don Nelson who were gifted on offense and great regular season coaches but they didn't stress defense so they never made it to the NBA Finals. That system of defense is simply fundamentally flawed and Stotts has that same defensive philosophy.
I realize we needed to immediately extend Stotts's contract to add stability to our franchise thus giving us a better chance of resigning our star players. It was good to resign him for that reason but I simply don't trust his defensive coaching at all.