Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge should need no introduction to hardcore hoops fans, but he posted an item of particular interest to Mavs fans in light of tonight’s game between Dallas and Portland. Much of Ben’s report from the Blazers’ practice on Wednesday — and much of the observable portion of practice, from his indications — was spent discussing how to best defend Dirk Nowitzki:
Obviously any defensive scheme against a player of Dirk’s caliber is a “pick your poison” affair. When Dirk receives the ball with back to the basket in the mid post, LaMarcus Aldridge was instructed to get up into his body with the express purpose of making Dirk use his dribble while his back was still to the basket. The theory is simple: Cut down Dirk’s potential options when he turns and faces. More than just about anyone in the NBA, Dirk has the ability to be a deadly triple threat while facing the hoop: he can shoot over the top, drive either direction off the bounce or read the defense and pass instantly. The Blazers seemingly would prefer Dirk not to be able to turn and face with his dribble intact and would rather take their chances with him dribbling into the key with his back to the basket. Interestingly, Aldridge was also instructed not to show Dirk either direction in the post but to simply play him square. That shows a respect factor for Dirk’s ability to turn and shoot over either shoulder. Something to watch tomorrow: How well does Aldridge execute this portion of the game plan? How easy and often is Dirk able to turn with his dribble intact? How diligent and careful is Aldridge in bodying Nowitzki without fouling?
Interestingly enough, most of Portland’s briefing on Dirk is coming from Joe Prunty, a former Maverick assistant. Head on over to Blazers Edge to get the report in full, and take a trip down memory lane with Ben’s in-depth of analysis of Nicolas Batum’s defense on Dirk the last time these two teams met.