Coaching edge: Breaking down Mike Brown’s best move of Game 2 (the switch on Aldridge)

Golden State Warriors interim head coach Mike Brown speaks to his players while playing against the San Antonio Spurs during the first quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Draymond Green defends LaMarcus Aldridge. That’s the way it has always been for the Warriors–back to the days when Aldridge was a Trail Blazer–and it certainly has been the way the Warriors have played it since Aldridge moved to the Spurs.

Draymond defends LaMarcus. It has been a great match-up for the Warriors. It has won them games against San Antonio.

So why did center Zaza Pachulia defend Aldridge for a long stint in the third quarter of Game 1 and why did he start off on Aldridge in the Warriors’ Game 2 blow out victory on Tuesday…

And why did JaVale McGee and David West also take turns on Aldridge… while Green locked in on Pau Gasol?

What are the Warriors’ dual coaches Mike Brown (acting) and Steve Kerr (ailing) doing here?

Well, first: It’s working, and the Warriors are staying with it, which makes the decision to put Pachulia, McGee and West on Aldridge the best coaching move of Game 2.
Aldridge–after a hot start in Game 1 against Draymond, before the switch–has all but vanished from the Spurs offense, going 4 for 11 and scoring only 8 points on Tuesday after his meltdown in the fourth quarter in Game 1.

So Mike, why are you doing this?

“It was just something that we felt before the series,” Brown said late Tuesday. “Zaza actually asked to do it. Zaza plays short minutes and so we felt why not give Zaza first crack on him? Because Draymond’s going to be on him most of the game.
“So we went with it. And we’ll stick with it.”

Generally, after the third-quarter experiment in Game 1, I think the Warriors went into Game 2 looking for
Pachulia and the other centers to zero in on Aldridge and move him off of the low post as much as possible, to make him work for position against larger, heavier players, and maybe tire him out and frustrate him for the close-out moments against the faster, more aggressive Green.

This also starts Green off on Gasol–who has been wiped out completely in this series, scoring a total of 12 points in the two games–who usually begins the offensive set on the high post, which positions Green in a better spot to swipe at perimeter players and disrupt the passing lanes.

Taking out the Spurs’ two valuable post players with one move, at least through two games… when it would’ve been so easy just to keep Green on Aldridge like always…. is why this was Brown’s best coaching move of Game 2.

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