Clippers Shooting Guard J.J. Redick thoroughly outplayed his Blazer counterpart CJ McCollum on Sunday. Redick finished with 17 points on 8-12 shooting, while McCollum mustered only nine points on 11 shots.
Particularly concerning for the Blazers coaching staff is the way that Redick got his shots - he was repeatedly sprung by single screens for wide open looks. Redick is an excellent shooter and will continue to make the Blazers pay if he is not watched more closely.
Most notably, the Blazers had difficulty defending "pin-downs" or "down-screens." These plays occur when a player moves from the perimeter down toward the paint to set a screen for his teammate on/near the block. That player then pops out toward the three-point to receive a pass and shoot if open.
The Clippers ran several down-screens for Redick and the Blazers had little answer. McCollum was the primary problem - the Blazers guard often either did not recognize the screen was coming or was out of position to avoid it.
The Blazers can counter this with better awareness on defense. McCollum needs to recognize when a screen is imminent and do a better job of tracking Redick so that he can move around the screen without getting hit. This means he needs to lock on to Redick's lower hip and then follow him around the screen so as to avoid bumping into the screener while maintaining contact with his man.
Watch Tony Allen deny Kevin Durant in this clip:
The Clippers do have counters to solid defense, so McCollum may still lose Redick on some plays. But denying at least the first option will go a long way toward making the Clippers work harder on offense. And Portland can also do a better job of cheating off the poor shooting Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, dedicating a help defender to keeping Redick under control.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, this is not a new problem. They have had trouble fighting through off-ball screens all season. Klay Thompson, in particular, torched the Blazers defense on several occasions. But Portland is going to need to solve its Redick problem to have a reasonable chance in this series. It's looking less and less likely that the Blazers will be able to slow Chris Paul, so they need to do everything they can to make sure his primary teammates, Redick and Blake Griffin, are contained. If those two continue to easily outscore McCollum it will be almost impossible for Portland's offense to keep up.