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

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Lakers
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Explaining LeBron’s Galaxy Brain Defense vs Kawhi Leonard

LeBron quickly determined Green was going to fake the screen for Kawhi and screen for PG instead. He surmised Doc Rivers would use this bit of misdirection to set up the Kawhi-PG pick-and-pop set. To adjust he played off Kawhi instead of pressuring up to guard the pick-and-roll.

He was absolutely right. Kawhi backed up because he knew LeBron cut off his first option. The King then made another galaxy brain play. He just put his right and left foot in exactly the right place, with his left foot positioned at the left elbow and his right foot at the top of the key. It was very subtle but it stopped the Clippers play entirely.

Here’s why. Kawhi is primarily a straight-line driver towards the basket; he often stops-and-starts but rarely goes side-to-side. When he does go side-to-side, it is almost always to pull up for a mid-range jump shot.

As a straight-line driver, Kawhi had to start his drive at the top of the key to get to the basket unfettered. By backing up to the top of the key, LeBron forced Paul George’s screen to force Kawhi into starting his drive from the right-wing.

He used PG’s screen against Kawhi!

Then LeBron makes his next galaxy brain play. LeBron grabs Kawhi’s wrist just as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope slides into the left official’s view. This stopped Kawhi from pulling up from midrange. Kawhi then had no choice but to pass it to PG, creating several Twitter memes.