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Clippings: The Clippers are in a hurry to fix their transition defense

That was the most glaring weakness that stuck out from the preseason.

Minnesota Timberwolves v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Ty Lue is an offensive-minded coach. He’s one of the more creative play-callers on that end of the floor and has shepherded some of the more devastating offenses in recent postseason history.

And yet, even though Lue is itching to expand the team’s offensive playbook as much as possible before the season starts, the Clippers coach had to concede that something else had become priority no. 1 after the preseason: transition defense.

The Clippers are currently last in the league after allowing 25.8 fast-break points per game during the preseason, a full five points worse than the 29th-ranked team. They started off bad by giving up 30 transition points in the preseason opener to Denver, leading Lue to say “transition, transition, and transition” were the keys in their second game against Sacramento. Alas, there wasn’t much improvement, as L.A. bookended the exhibition phase by allowing 30 fast-break points to Minnesota in the final preseason game.

That means transition defense has been a key element of the team’s practices before the start of the regular season.

“Just continue to keep working on our floor balance defensively,” Lue said Wednesday. “I think transition is going to be a big, a huge part of what we need to do defensively. You see a lot of teams are playing faster now, getting the ball out quick, advanced passing, attacking. So we’ve been harping on our transition defense the last few days, so we got to get better with that.”

Lue said the Clippers seemed to forget during the preseason that they have to get back at the raise of the shot. Simple mistakes like that mean the team is incorporating transition defense into all of their offensive drills. When the shot goes up on offense, the players have to get back, too, or else they start over.

Eric Bledsoe detailed some of the other exercises the Clippers are doing to work on that aspect of their game.

“We’ve definitely been doing like little breaking off in groups, you know, doing little stuff like that, try to go against these coaches, they try to have one man trailing in, like shoot a layup, you fall down, the other four men got to talk, and try to direct the guy that’s coming in to fill in the blank,” Bledsoe said. “We’ve been doing a lot of 5-on-5 transition drills.”

Lue seemed confident that the Clippers will be okay on the break soon enough. He better be right, because the Clippers will be tested by the pace of the Golden State Warriors in their very first game of the season.

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