Nate McMillan Wonders If Trail Blazers Can Stop The Pick and Roll

Following up on this story by Brian T. Smith in the Columbian, I asked Trail Blazers Head Coach Nate McMillan to elaborate on his team's pick and roll defense.

His answer was a bit more defeatist than Blazer's fans might want to hear, "Pick and roll is the oldest play in basketball and I don't think anybody has figured out a way to stop it when you have two players or a player who can execute that play...What team has stopped Phoenix pick and roll?"

Sometimes coaches ask rhetorical questions in these situations but since we were alone and he was looking straight at me with his Drill Sargent glare, I answered - the Spurs.

It was interesting that his response to my answer was to point out Tony Parker's speed and Tim Duncan's smarts while not citing the Spurs weak side help rotations. Combined with this other comment it makes you wonder if he's not trying to send a message to Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge, "It's not the pick and roll as opposed to the speed of some of these guards that we've played against. You know we've had some problems trying to control them."

Is McMillan calling out his players or is he just stating the obvious? Or maybe he's just doing what a lot of coaches do, which is to find something to be unhappy about so the team is always a little bit on edge and never comfortable with where they are.

"We're still close enough to catch some of those team (ahead in the standings). But at the same time we have not secured a playoff position," McMillian said about his team's place in the Western Conference dog fight. That should be enough motivation for anyone.

Maybe he just wishes he had that one great pick and roll defender, Amare Stoudemire.

Earl Clark

In other non-Blazers news that doesn't warrant a separate post, Earl Clark finished his stint with the Iowa Energy with 16 points on only 6 of 14 shooting in about 27 minutes of play. After his great first game, he shot 40.6% and played only 31 and 27 minutes in the final two.

Now, both of those games were blow outs for the Energy so it's hard to say too much about it having not watched the games. Here's the recap from Ridiculous Upside:

Last Night in the D-League, Darnell Jackson and the BayHawks Came Up...Big - Ridiculous Upside
Earl Clark looked okay in the bit of this game that I saw. He's athletic certainly, and can jump out of the building, but while he has decent rebounding instincts he needs to work on his timing. Upper body strength also is an issue, as he got stuffed on at least one attempt that I saw that could've been an and-1 opportunity.

Steve Kerr was in Iowa for those last two games. We'll see what he has to say when we catch up with him next.

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