If you've been reading this blog since October, you'll know that one of my favorite NBA players is Bruce Bowen. He is such a good lockdown defender, as a coach, having someone like that is invaluable. We had a kid on our freshman team last year that was similar, we lost our final game of the year as that kid was injured and unable to play. We beat that team earlier in the year when we had our top defender shutdown the other team's best player.

This time, Bruce Bowen keys up on Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Miller. He shuts him down and leads to a steal which goes the other way for a fast break. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

A few random observations,

- Pao Gasol sets a screen for Miller to catch and shoot. Miller is deadly when he has a step on his defender to launch that 3-pointer. Bowen does a great job closing out. Also notice that he doesn't leave his feet, just closes out and gets his hands up.

- You can see Bowen hopping on his feet as he's D'd up on Miller. You must be up on your toes on defense. Too many times I see kids playing lazy D with their weight on their heels. Good players will drive right by you.

- As Miller makes his drive to the middle, Bowen slides keeping his hips at the same level, stride for stride with Miller. He beats Miller to the lane and forces Miller to go behind the back.

- While defending the penetration, Bowen keeps his hands up, he doesn't reach in, he uses his feet and legs to beat Miller to the spot without fouling. This is an important point because there is a big difference between good defense on penetration (like Bowen here), and just hacking someone and putting them on the line.

- When Miller does his behind the back reverse dribble, Bowen just stands his ground and his body is right up against Miller. The body contact disrupts Miller's forward motion and causes him to lose his balance and fall down.

Mike Miller usually averages almost 16 points a game, tonight, he was held to 3-for-8, for just 8 points on the night.

Though you can see the Spurs were getting blasted early in the quarter, they would come out strong from that point forward and only allow the Grizzlies to score 55 points in 3 quarters to easily beat the Grizzlies 111-87.

A great DVD that breaks down the M2M fundamentals is Geno Auriemma's 8 Essential Defensive Drills DVD. Coach Auriemma is the head coach of multiple national championship winning lady Huskies of UConn. Head over the X's and O's of Basketball Forum for more great hoops discussions.