The pick-and-roll defense will be important tonight, and certainly a challenge for Jrue, but the aspect of the game that he really struggled with against San Antonio was the length of the plays. San Antonio was pushing the ball up quickly and getting into their sets really early. This served a couple of purposes: first, they didn't allow the Sixers to get completely set on the defensive end. By the time they hustled back and marked their men, the Spurs were already in motion and the Sixers were scrambling. This create a bunch of late-transition looks on simple plays when it wasn't really transition. The second thing this allowed was for the pick-and-roll to fail the first time, then be re-set and run again. The first thing won't be an issue. If they aren't in pure transition, CP3 doesn't rush the ball up the floor. Quite the opposite. The problem is that Paul will exhaust every possibility before he allows his team to settle for a bad shot. He'll run through multiple plays, make things up on the fly, penetrate just to see what happens and keep his dribble the whole time. Against a lot of teams if you shut down their first option, they get flustered. Really it only takes maybe 10-12 seconds of solid defense to get some teams to cash in their chips and settle. That will not happen with Chris Paul. Playing the first pick well is only the beginning of the battle. Jrue needs to be on throughout the entire possession.
We saw something from Jrue in flashes against San Antonio. When a guard on the Spurs made a scoring play, he came down on the other end and answered. Usually with a really aggressive drive. Obviously, it didn't happen every time, but I do think it's going to be important for Jrue to have a good game tonight and get into the lane. I'd like to see him on the post when CP3 is on him, and I think it's really important we see Jrue's drive-and-kick game. He's going to lose the battle to CP3, most likely, but he has an opportunity to at least minimize the damage by contributing on the offensive end (and making Paul work on defense).
The WFC should be sold out tonight, and I'm hoping the biggest ovation comes when Iguodala is recognized for making the All-Star team, and not for some kind of Blake dunk.
The tip is at 7pm. This is your game thread. I'll be right here throughout. Join me if you hope Blake is thrown to the ground as many times as he flops there begging for calls tonight.
Prediction: PHI 110, LAC 98