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Film Study: Looking back at Spurs’ defensive efficiency vs. Hawks

On Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs showed again why they’re ranked first in defensive efficiency, holding the Atlanta Hawks to 94.1 points per 100 possessions.

However, San Antonio was not on the same page defensively to start the game, as they allowed a couple of easy looks for the Hawks to get ahead 8-2.

In this play, Patty Mills goes over the screen and relies on David Lee to hedge and stop the ball handler from penetrating to the basket. Instead, Hawks guard Dennis Schroder fakes the pass to the roll man, catching Lee with a gorgeous ‘yo-yo’ dribble followed by the easy layup. The perfect recipe for an automatic timeout by Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

The Spurs came out from the timeout with increased energy and notable activity, causing three turnovers by the Hawks in the next four possessions, building momentum that carried on the rest of the way.

Here, Bryn Forbes gets caught under the screen, which triggers a mismatch in the low post. As soon as the ball was thrown to Ersan Ilyasova, Kyle Anderson comes to help from the weak side, forcing the baseline pass which Manu Ginobili intercepts seamlessly.

The Spurs’ help defense wasn’t the only exceptional thing in this game. Almost everything the Spurs did on the defensive end was textbook. They got back in transition, clogged the paint and defended the 3-point line perfectly.

In the video below, I highlighted some of the team’s top defensive plays of the game:

Stifling, suffocating or whatever you want to call it, this kind of defensive solidity could bode well for the Spurs in the playoffs if they bring this type of effort and execution.