Clippers X’s and O’s: How L.A. dismantled the Wizards


To continue his Los Angeles Clippers X’s and O’s series, Jeff Nisius breaks down the film of key plays from their latest game against the Washington Wizards.

A quasi-homecoming for Paul Pierce turned into a dismantling of his former team the Washington Wizards, with the Los Angeles Clippers winning 108-91. Despite being without the injured Blake Griffin, the Clippers played one of their best halfs of the season. The defense was tight and active, the ball movement was crisp and the offense was run with pace.

Chris Paul set the tone early and ended up with 23 points in 27 minutes. The Clippers were able to score at will most of the evening, shooting 52.6 percent from the floor.

In the loss, John Wall played quite well, scoring 23 points to go along with 11 assists. However, the Clippers defense was smothering at times, resulting in the Wizards shooting only 39.1 percent from the floor.

This article series will focus on analyzing the Clippers x’s and o’s, breaking down key plays from each end of the floor. The goal here is to take a seat inside the coaches film room and see what the team executed well and where the breakdowns were.

Let’s get started with the Clippers and Wizards film…

We begin the breakdowns in the second quarter. In fact, all five clips are from the second quarter, as I thought this was the team’s best 12-minute stretch. The team was rolling in the first, but the execution was exceptional in the second.

That said, this clip is of a missed defensive assignment Doc Rivers has implemented. When the Clippers play small, they are now switching 1-4 pick-and-rolls.

We see Wall eventually with the ball, starting the offense on the left wing and waiting for a Jared Dudley side screen. The Wizards are running a set to combat the Clippers switching these pick-and-rolls.

Wall comes off a Dudley screen, while Marcin Gortat is set up at the elbow to screen what should have been a switch by Paul Pierce. This secondary screen would have forced Pierce to go over Gortat’s screen, freeing Wall up to go one-on-one with Cole Aldrich.

However, Pierce misses the switch and Wall pulls up for an open jumper.

A few possessions later, we see a proper example of the Clippers defending a 1-4 pick-and-roll set.

Dudley circles up and sets a screen for Wall going to his left. This time, Pierce switches and does a good job of staying up on Wall in order to avoid Gortat trying to catch him off a secondary screen.

Meanwhile, the rest of the defense properly stays home. Paul stays help-side to close off the middle, DeAndre Jordan sags behind the Gortat screen to protect the paint, Jamal Crawford doesn’t need to help as he is one pass away and J.J. Redick sticks backside.

Next, we see Pierce properly ice Gortat’s attempt at a re-screen. This is important, because the Clippers rely on icing the side screen-and-roll in order to eliminate unwanted rotations while also keeping the ball out of a the middle of the floor.

Pierce forces Wall into Jordan and Paul digs on Gortat’s roll. Wall is then forced to kick to Dudley and Paul does a great job recovering to contest the shot. Dudley pump fakes, drives middle and turns the ball over on penetration.

I thought this was the team’s best defensive possession of the entire night, especially considering Pierce was the primary defender and executed his assignments flawlessly.

One final defensive breakdown, but this time it features a twist we haven’t often seen from the Clippers.

The Wizards push the ball up the floor, looking for some early offense, but the Clippers are back and set defensively. Immediately, this push leads into an overloaded right side of the floor and the ball being reversed to Wall.

Now the possession has turned into an isolated pick-and-roll with Wall and Gortat. This is important, because the ultra-athletic point guard excels going to his left, and there is no help coming for Jordan initially.

Fortunately, this set was scouted by the Clippers’ staff and likely with Pierce’s help. He recognizes the action and signals for Redick to slide across the paint as an extra defender, leaving Otto Porter in the weak-side corner.

Now that Jordan has help, he can hold his ground between Paul and Gortat, waiting for Paul to fight over the screen. Wall elects to pull up from mid-range, exactly the shot the Clippers hoped for. Wall is shooting only 34.7 percent from 15-19 feet and 36.4 percent off pull-ups according to

Wall misses, the Clipper rebound and are out in transition.

Continuing with all things Pierce, here is an interesting set featuring a Redick and Pierce pick-and-roll. Redick has been underrated as a ball handler and while this set doesn’t exactly portray his skills with the ball, it is quite difficult to defend.

More from Clipperholics

If Garrett Temple isn’t able to go over Pierce’s screen, this set likely results in an open shot for either Redick or Pierce. However, Temple gets over the initial screen and then Redick brings him back left to rub him again.

Dudley does a good job of stepping up and stopping Redick’s dibble, but Temple is already over the screen, leaving plenty of space for Pierce to operate when he disengages.

Now, we see Pierce with the ball in his hot spot at the top of the key. This is the action Rivers expected when he signed Pierce and it is finally beginning to bear fruit, mainly because Pierce’s jumper is falling.

Much like Paul, if Pierce is able to reach the elbow off the bounce, his jumper is usually money. Hopefully, his shooting efficiency continues to rise because the Clippers need Pierce in the absence of Blake Griffin.

More clippers: Clippers surviving with Chris Paul's aggressive scoring

Finally, we end the breakdown with another beautiful out-of-bounds set from Rivers.

Loosely based upon a popular hand-off play typically run between Griffin and Redick, the action is designed to catch the defense looking.

Crawford inbounds the ball to Jordan on the near block and runs off a dummy hand-off screen.

Meanwhile, Pierce and Paul are in position to set a staggered screen for Redick. The defense anticipates Redick coming off the stagger and then running the hand-off action with Jordan.

Temple trails Redick off the ball and Wall quickly helps off Paul to eliminate the Redick-Jordan action.

However, Rivers added a twist in the set.

Next: Doc Rivers looks ready to trade Josh Smith

Instead of setting the staggered screen on Temple, Paul slips the screen and Jordan hit him for a quick layup.

Absolutely beautiful.