I read Mike Prada’s article, “It’s time to hold Andray Blatche accountable for his bad defense” and it reminded me of something that I had noticed during the Knicks game. There was a play – during a stretch in the game in which the Knicks began to pull away – when the Knicks guard easily drove to the hoop for a layup following a relatively routine pick-and-roll play. In frustration, Flip Saunders called a timeout and before CSN went to commercial you could see what appeared to be Flip giving “tough love” to JaVale McGee.
So I decided to watch that play over to see what made Flip so angry. However, what I noticed was that the player who appeared to be most at fault was Andray Blatche. At the start of the play, John Wall was rubbed off on a pick that was set by Andray’s man. Instead of hedging and either stopping the penetration of the Knicks guard or at least forcing him out further on the floor, Andray decides to stay in no-man’s land and did neither. Instead he looked at the guard while barely leaving the paint. Yes, he looked at him. Worse yet he actually appeared to screen off John Wall, who was hustling to get back on defense. Worse still as the Knicks guard realized that he had John Wall at a disadvantage and Andray Blatche did not seem intent on stopping his penetration, he decided to keep driving to the hoop.
So what did JaVale McGee do? Well as the Knicks guard began to drive to the hoop JaVale did not immediately step out to meet him. He instead waited and attempted to block the hoop as the player reached the rim. Yes, he actually deserves some blame for this, but hold on. McGee actually could not effectively step out because Mr. Blatche was still in no man’s land watching the play. On this play, Andray Blatche’s “effort” appeared to screen off two of his teammates making it nearly impossible for either of them to make a play while not actually playing defense himself.
Let’s go back to where I started this post. Following this play, JaVale McGee appeared to get yelled at by Flip Saunders – and it is true I could not hear what was being said. But given when the “scolding” took place it appears reasonable to believe that it was due to the just completed play. In this case, JaVale McGee received the scolding that Andray Blatche rightfully deserved. One can only hope that this error was corrected upon reviewing the tape.
Watch the play for yourself and see what you think. Sorry about the quality of the video.