Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James’ genius defense vs. Clippers explained

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

LeBron James had some great defense for the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James has one of the highest basketball IQs in the NBA. He is more known for his offensive genius. The final possession showed he is equally as brilliant on defense. 

Only a few people among tens of billions who have ever walked this planet can emulate LeBron James on the basketball court. LeBron’s defense on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the game’s final possession does not need to be viewed in basketball terms; it needs to be viewed in the lens of a Mozart, an Albert Einstein, or an Isaac Newton – geniuses who forever changed the world. His basketball IQ on both ends is GOAT level.

Several fans have legitimate concerns about LeBron’s defense. I had them too. He was a mere mortal in the game’s first 47 minutes; he was a cyborg in the final minute. On offense, he overpowered five Clippers players to get the go-ahead put-back layup. Then LeBron played the best defense I have ever seen.

Just watch this play from the Los Angeles Lakers‘ game against the Los Angeles Clippers. LeBron predicted exactly what would happen.

LeBron James Knew What Clippers Coach Doc Rivers Was Running Ahead of Time

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was the longtime head coach of the Boston Celtics. While in Boston he had many Eastern Conference playoff battles with LeBron James during LeBron’s time in Cleveland and Miami. Doc’s favorite set dating to his time in Boston has always been a variation of the pick-and-pop.

In this play, Doc used Paul Pierce as the ball-handler and Ray Allen as the screener. Allen received a screen from Kevin Garnett as he flared out to the top of the key.

The Clippers ran a variation of this play here. LeBron recognized Doc would not run the exact same set because there were two offensive players on the left side. Paul George (the guy who just hit the game-tying three) would not have had enough room to flare out with two defenders already in help position. Good NBA coaches such as Doc Rivers use misdirection to disguise their primary set.

Doc made a slight mistake here. Leaving two guys on the left side was a dead giveaway PG was the decoy to setup Kawhi Leonard’s drive to the basket. Doc could have had Reggie Jackson cut from the left wing to the right corner to make it look exactly like the Ray Allen play. It would have allowed either Kawhi or PG to go left if needed.

Easy to say after the game though!