Hate Watch Back. Okay, I've only done this one other time, and it was like two years ago, but still: Hate Watch Back.
Three minutes and fifty seconds. The run had started a few trips ago. The Grizzlies are still only down five. Now, this moment, would be the best time for you to leave one of the best scorers on the planet to switch onto DJ Augustin as he heads towards the corner.
Perhaps Green is supposed to switch, and Conley is the one who doesn't recognize the situation. Mike sure played poorly in his own right. Still, this exact situation happens with Green every game. He is often the only one switching.
Next trip down. This is the best defense you will see Jeff Green play during this stretch.
Green backpedals into the lane, Westbrook passes to a trailing Durant. Gasol, who is glad in his own part to expend only the barest of minimum efforts, pushes Jeff to kinda sorta contest Durant's jumper.
Grizzlies down seven after Tony Allen misses a layup, gets his own rebound, and makes a layup, otherwise known as "Tony Allen is on the court." You can feel the Thunder starting to surge. You need a stop.
This is okay. You don't expect Green to stay in front of Westbrook, but why make it so easy. Rather than go over or under the screen, Green sorta does neither. He isn't trying to beat Westbrook to a spot. If he's funneling Westbrook somewhere, it is in the limpest way possible. He's just sort of following Westbrook where he wants to go and hoping it works out.
Gasol rotates towards RW, Ibaka catches with a full head of steam. Dunk.
Grizzlies call timeout and go small, with Chalmers entering the game for Zach. Please note that Zach has been on the floor for the past three Vines, and has barely even been in frame, partly because I'm a crappy cameraman, and partly because, on the two possessions he was not beaten down the floor, the Thunder have been small and stuck ZBo's man in the corner.
A quicker player sees what Jeff is doing on this last play, knows what Gasol will be forced to do, and rotates into the paint to help on Ibaka. This is asking too much of ZBo, who is caught between giving up a dunk and a corner three.
Anyway, back to the game. The Grizzlies are still down just seven after another Tony Allen layup, and this next possession is presented sans commentary.
I lied. I have commentary. Players spin off of picks all the time. Conley did this quite often about two years ago when fighting over picks and it worked. But if you spin - read: literally turn your back to the play - you have to have a plan for your next action. Where are you going?
Have you spun around the pick to give yourself a better angle to catch RW? A bold strategy to corral one of the fastest players in the league.
Have you spun to stay with the roll man, and if so, why spin at all?
Have you spun to just stand there?
The answer is that Jeff doesn't know why he spun. He just did what he always does, which is to just figure this ish out while it happens to him.
Another dunk. Grizzlies down nine.
Green is now "guarding" Durant in the corner. Remember the bind ZBo was in earlier? Giving up a dunk or a corner three? Green finds himself in that same bind. I'd argue that Green should stay home on this one, and not leave Kevin Durant. Standing where he's standing, he isn't doing any job. He clutters the lane for the roll man, but Gasol is sort of already doing that. Chalmers is also shading in from the short corner.
You have to have a plan. Commit if you are supposed to. Stay home if you are supposed to. Don't do neither. Durant three. Grizzlies head into the locker room down 12.
BONUS JEFF GREEN DEFENSE
We're in the third quarter now, and Green is matched on Andre Roberson standing in the corner, which leans into Green's defensive skills because guarding Andre Roberson in the corner is sort of like guarding nobody in the corner.
Jeff rightly cheats into the lane, and does really well to disrupt Ibaka's attempted pass to the corner, and even manages to save it as it's going out of bounds. The vine loses some real time, but Green has a chance to gather himself as the Thunder regain possession, and he saunters back to the exact spot he was standing in.
Who is he guarding? Is he looking for Roberson again? It's like Green was playing chess, and someone swapped some of the pieces around while he was checking his Tinder (Hrdlicka note: I do not know if Jeff Green has Tinder).
He certainly isn't looking for Ibaka in the corner, who happens to be standing in the exact same spot as the guy Green previously guarded, albeit a different player who can actually shoot. Corner three. Gasol, for his part, knows he is too slow to get there, the Grizzlies are down fifteen at this point, and Marc doesn't seem willing to move too much these days unless he absolutely has to.
The very next trip down, Green is doing the cheat-into-the-lane-thing again, but this is just sheer laziness. He is, again, not accomplishing anything by standing in the lane. He glances at his man in the corner who, though just Andre Roberson, is still an NBA player, and the second Green glances away, Roberson sprints to the rim.
Life comes at you fast.
I don't want to imply that guarding Westbrook or Durant is an easy task. They are two of the best offensive players on the planet. Which is why you need a plan. Which is why you need to know what they want to do. Which is why you can't rely on being more athletic than them to figure out what they are doing as they do it. Which is why you can't guard them with Jeff Green.