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DALLAS-HOUSTON: LAST 3 MINUTES OF THE GAME.’HALLELUKA’ – ROOKIE LUKA DONCIC LEADS THE MAVERICKS TO A WIN OVER THE ROCKETS.

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Photo: AP/Scanpix

‘Halleluka’. ”It seemed fitting that the game concluded this way, as The Ringer’s signature song ‘Halleluka’ made its public debut at the American Airlines Center (Dallas).”

(https://www.msn.com/en-gb/sport/nba/mavericks-rookie-luka-doncic-leads-impressive-fourth-quarter-surge-to-beat-rockets/ar-BBQGLyn).

3:09 minutes left on the game clock. 102-94 Houston’s biggest lead of the game (+8). There was 16 ties and 26 lead changes in this game.

19 years old rookie from Slovenia with straight 11 points erases eight-points deficit and Mavericks went to their ninth consecutive home victory!

ROY (Rookie of The Year)? I think that after almost 2 months played in 2018/19 NBA season most of basketball experts will agree – Doncic is the ROY of this season!

MVP rookie of the year

For me it’s not surprise. In my article for HUPU I already wrote about him – “LUKA DONCIC. 19 YEARS OLD EUROLEAGUE MVP TO BECOME FUTURE NBA STAR?”

If someone is MVP of Euroleague, European Champion, Euroleague Champion at age of 19… There’s no questions – he is ready for NBA. Euroleague = grown men’s basketball/second best basketball league in the world.

Confidence and high basketball IQ. European player who despite being far from the fastest in NBA can create his own shot. Court vision. These things describes Luka.

Most of the Latvian basketball fans still remembers his crazy 3-pointer (9 meters from basket/0 seconds left on shot clock/backboard… from +4 to +7 4:41 minutes left…) in EUROBASKET 2017 quarter-finals that was one of the key moments that lead Slovenia (Dragic MIA, Doncic DAL) to victory over Latvia (Porzingis NYK , Bertans SAS) despite Porzingis 8 points in last 4 minutes of the game.

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Doncic is special talent – no questions!

In this article we are not talking about his defense. YES,  Harden scored one-third of his total points vs. Dallas when he was guarded by Doncic…

 

3:09 LEFT ON THE GAME CLOCK. ROCKETS +8 (102:94).

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3:09. Nene makes both free throws (94-102)

2:50. DONCIC CORNER CATCH-AND-SHOOT 3-PT MADE (97-102)

X5 (Nene) helped too much on 4 (Barnes) drive to the basket. To prevent 2 (Matthews) from attempting open 3-point shot XD (Tucker) had to rotate (stunt) but he wasn’t able to recover back to Doncic. Harden and Paul wasn’t in great helping positions to help the helper. Matthews finds Luka empty in the corner = 3-points!

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2:32. Harden misses pull-up 3-pt. PNR (Mathews goes under/Luka doesn’t want to switch vs. Harden) 15 seconds left on the shot clock and Rockets +5…

2:19. Matthews misses 3-pt. PNR (2 ball-screens set by teammates). 

2:18. Jordan offensive rebound (vs. CP3) + CP3 foul. Houston SWITCH ALL. CP3 (1.83m) has almost 0% to get the rebound against 28 cm taller Jordan (2.11m).  

2:18. Dallas. Side-line inbounds play. 

2:05 DONCIC. HIGH-PNR. HOUSTON SWITCHES PNR. DONCIC vs. CAPELA (JORDAN-TUCKER) STEP-BACK 3-PT MADE 1.3 SECONDS BEFORE END OF THE SHOT CLOCK. (100-102)

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1:49. Clever play by Chris Paul. Personal foul by rookie Brunson. CP3 86.7% career FT shooter misses the both free-throws.. Rockets 11/11 FT before CP3’s FTs.

1:34. DONCIC. HIGH PNR. SCREEN + RE-SCREEN BY JORDAN. DRIVE TO THE BASKET AND FINISHES FISH FLOATER. (102-102)

Despite Tucker’s great defense Doncic is able to score. 

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1:14. Harden three-point shot missed (air-ball). CP3 sets the ball-screen for Harden. Dallas switch. Harden 1vs1 vs. Brunson. Shot was attempted when 4.0 seconds left on the shot clock.

0:57. DONCIC. SET PLAY. PASS TO BARNES HAND-OFF + FLARE SCREEN + PNR. (Again great individual defense by Tucker denying Doncic to get the ball back after passing to Barnes) PICK-AND-ROLL SWITCH. ONCE AGAIN DONCIC vs CAPELA. STEP-BACK 3-POINTER MADE. (105-102)

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0:45. Harden 1vs1 vs. Brunson. Drives to the basket and scores 2 points. Play out of time-out. CP3 and Harden hand-off is switched so Beard can play against Brunson. (105-104)

0:24. Brunson back-door cut = lay-up (2pt). DONCIC PNR TRAP – Jordan short roll – Brunson back-door cut to the basket. Great decisions by Doncic/Jordan/Brunson. (107-104)

This time Houston decided to TRAP Doncic instead of SWITCH. Doncic passing skills allowed him to successfully deliver the ball to Jordan (4vs3). CP3 was focusing too much on covering Jordan’s roll to the basket. It allowed Brunson to cut to the basket and score 2 points.

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0:18. Quick 3-pointer by Gordon missed. CP3 hand-off screen to Gordon open up him for pretty good 3-point shot attempt. It’s not easy to have better shot opportunity in only 6 seconds being down by 3 points.

0:16. Defensive rebound by Jordan.

0:14.8. Harden fouls Matthews. Matthews (78% season FT% + 5/5 FT in this game before) misses both free-throws. Defensive rebound by Team. No time out called yet.

0:05.0. Houston full time out. 

0:00.0 SOB play by coach D’Antoni. Gordon misses 3-PT shot…

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SUMMARY

Dallas – Houston last 3 minutes of the game:

  • Dallas outscored Houston 13:2.
  • Dallas rookies Doncic (11) and Brunson (2) scored all points for Mavs.
  • Two step-back 3-pointers made vs. Capela (PNR Switch).
  • Jordan collected 4 (1+3) rebounds.
  • Matthews (78% career, 5/5 vs Houston before 2 missed FTA) missed 2 free-throws.
  • Harden missed both 3-pointers.
  • Chris Paul missed both free-throws. (career 87%).
  • Gordon missed both 3-pointers including last second shot.

Despite Houston Rockets have bigger potential compared to Dallas Mavericks this season they don’t play like a unified team. It’s easy to see that atmosphere is much better in Dallas team. Maybe Zhou Qi can make a difference? Definitely I am not the only one who wants to see him playing soon again !

 Thanks for reading! Kristians@abouthegame.com/CoachKris@HUPU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMPORTANCE OF LEBRON’S OUTSIDE SHOOTING.

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Lakers defeat Trail Blazers –  126:117. It was Lebron’s best game of 2018/19 season so far –  44 Pts+10 Reb+9 Ast. As we basketball fans know that Lebron has never been the best three-point shooters in NBA but his unbelievable athleticism allows him to get to the rim despite not being among the best jump shooters in the league. Of course he’s definitely better three-point (34.4% career) shooter than for example Giannis (career 27.6%) but by far worse than Klay Thompson (career 41.9%).

I think I’m one of the league leaders in points in the paint. I drive just as much as anybody. At this point, it’s almost like they’re trying to turn me into a jump shooter. I can’t be a jump shooter.’’ (https://lebronwire.usatoday.com/2017/11/29/lebron-james-believes-officials-are-trying-to-turn-him-into-a-jump-shooter/)

Three-pointers vs. Portland 5 of 6! That’s the fact: simply there’s no one who can stop him 1vs1 if he shoots great from 3-point line that particular night. Lots of good things for Lebron’s team can happen if his defender has to adjust his strategy of defending him = playing closer.

LEB too close

 

Against league’s best players there’s no way to take away all his weapons but most of the teams is willing to give up King’s three-pointer rather than seeing him driving to the basket. Lebron is like a high-speed train (especially during transition).. When he goes full speed at defender, basically there’s nothing can stop him.

LEB train

 

If the player who has tendency to DRIVE TO THE BASKET are able to add great 3-POINT SHOT to his repertoire his defender has to guard him closer (Basic principle for defense: great shooter = closer, bad shooter = further) and that means:

 

  • Better opportunities to drive to the basket and shot fakes are more effective since defender has to ’’respect’’ opponent’s ability to shoot from outside;

 

  • Once Lebron drives past his defender mostly there’s DUNK (or any other type of shot close to the basket)/FREE-THROWS (Draws a foul) or PASS to open teammate and also MID-RANGE SHOT option is possible (if his defender still near).

 

  • He also becomes more effective offensive player without the ball (’’stretch the floor’’) if he is has great shooting night. That means more opportunities for his teammates.

 

THE FACT.

The King scores higher % of his points from three-point line this season (2018/19 sample size is not too big this season but tendency is obvious) than both 2015/16 season when he won his first title with Cleveland and 2011/2012 season when he won his first NBA title with Miami Heat (I’ve chosen these 3 seasons to compare “different Lebron”  with “today’s Lebron” in different stage of his career).

MIAMI HEAT (2011/12)

2011-12

CLEVELAND (2015/16)

shots 2015-16

LA LAKERS (2018/19)

shots 2018-19

% of points scored from 3-POINT LINE: 9.6 (2011/12) → 13.6 (2015/16) → 22.5 (2018/19).

% of points scored from MID-RANGE area: 22.3 (2011/12) ← 12.3 (2015/16) ← 11.4 (2018/19).

% of points that coming from free-throw line and points in the paint hasn’t changed too much through the years.

Reasons for this could be:

  1. NBA is changing, players attempts more 3-point shots than ever before. Individual skill development.
  2. Basketball Analytics tells us long 2’s (mid-range) shots are worst shots in basketball.
  3. Miami Heat/Cleveland Cavaliers/Los Angeles Lakers = 3 different teams /3 different styles/ 3 different coaches/3 different roles.
  4. Tendency to attempt more shots from outside is often seen in basketball once players getting older. I am not sure if this is the case for Lebron but maybe it could be because of him being more pragmatic?

 

LEBRON JAMES SHOOTING 51%+ THREE-POINTERS =  HIS TEAM WINS 80%+ GAMES…

Again 3 different seasons – with MIAMI 2011/12 (winning NBA title for the first time)/ CLEVELAND 2017/18 (last season with Cleveland)/ LA LAKERS 2018/19.

Of course, it’s very usual if team’s best player shoots well from 3-point line, he will score more points and his team has a bigger chance to win but as we basketball fans by following NBA for years… for Lebron that means he’s basically unstoppable and his teammates get tons of good shots created by King.

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5 of 6 losses when Lebron shot 3-pointers with accuracy 51% or better was away games.

All 31 games of 2011/12, 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons (including play-offs) when Lebron shot 3-pointers with very high accuracy (51+%).

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5 OF 6 BEHIND THE ARC vs. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (Nov. 15th)

  • all of King’s three-pointers were pull-up 3’s (off the dribble);
  • Of 4 of his 5 three-point attempts made pick-and-roll/pop situations was involved.

3 of 4 PNR was defended using “SHOW&RECOVER” coverage. Most of the time it was PG or SG position player who set the screen for Lebron because in case of SWITCH James can use his strength and drive to the basket. For example I don’t see too many options without rotation (even rotation is not enough if high-speed train is arriving) in situation when Lebron attacks McCollum (great offensive player). Because of Lakers lack of outside shooters pick-and-pop (PG and SG usually not rollers) situations is not a threat for Portland – SHOW&RECOVER usually is suitable strategy to cover this type of pick-and-roll/pop.

It was similar strategy what Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers wanted to happen against Golden State Warriors attacking Curry when player who guarded Curry was the screener.

The reason why SHOW&RECOVER strategy wasn’t that successful most of the time was miscommunication between players & initial defender wasn’t able to re-establish good defensive position on Lebron after going under the teammate who was SHOWING. But of course there’s no strategy in the world who can stop probably the best player in the world now who has almost perfect game!!!

 

Having less than 7 seconds left on the shot-clock in this situation was SWITCH. SHOW&RECOVER lead to miscommunication and Lebron punished defenders for it = 3 points!

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Examples of initial Lebron’s defender unable to successfully re-establish defensive position on Lebron James or even if he did it wasn’t enough to stop Lebron from scoring behind the arc in this particular game. It created opportunities for quality 3-point shot attempts for King.

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感谢关注我文章的篮球迷们!

Kristians@abouthegame.com

CoachKris@HUPU

WHAT HAPPENED IN LAST 3 MINUTES IN NBA FINALS GAME 5? DETAILS.

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Dramatic, unpredictable, entertaining –  last 3 minutes of NBA Finals game 5. Situation were changing every possession. Raptors were so close to win their first NBA Title but now we will be able to see one more last game in Oracle Arena (Warriors will move to new basketball venue next season).

Only 1 of 34 times team who was down 1:3 in NBA Finals won NBA Title. It was 2016 Cavaliers team (vs. Golden State) – “The Cavaliers won the next three games to become the first team in Finals history to successfully overcome a 3–1 deficit. ”

Toronto Raptors had a 94% chance to win NBA Title when 2:59 was left on game clock and they had a ball.

Chances to win NBA

The worst time-out ever?

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Time-out Nurse

71% of NBA basketball fans voted that Coach Nick Nurse time-out 3 minutes before the end of game negatively affected Raptors performance…

“We had two free ones that you lose under the three-minute mark, and we just came across and just decided to give those guys a rest, and we had back-to-back ones there that we would have lost them under the three-minute mark, and just thought we could use the extra energy push,” Nurse explained after the game.

(https://nba.nbcsports.com/2019/06/11/nick-nurse-says-timeout-during-raptors-run-was-to-get-players-extra-rest/)

If someone work as a coach he knows that if team wins every decision you made was right and vice-versa. Anyway, let’s start to take a look on what happened in last 3 minutes of the NBA Finals Game 5.

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Kawhi drives to the basket and draws the foul. Toronto ball. 2:59 left on game clock and Raptors lead by 6 points – 103:97.

SOB play. The idea is to get the ball to Kawhi hands so he can play 1vs1. 

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6 seconds before end of shot clock, Kawhi missed tough fade-away shot.

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Golden State attack. Curry passes to Cook who slips the screen. Aggressive defense by Kawhi don’t allow Klay to receive the ball. Cook passes back to Curry who plays PNR with Green. Green also slips the screen since Raptors was about to TRAP Curry (2 players on Curry) and not even looking towards the ball he automatically set off-ball screen for Klay. Quick re-screen allowed Klay to get open look. 3 points! Lowry who was guarding Green was hesitating to recover back to Green after ball was passed out of trap. 

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Most of the time teams don’t score directly because of play which is drawn by coach but plays often creates situations where players can PLAY BY PRINCIPLE and make decisions by themselves.

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Toronto ball. Lowry passes ball to Gasol (high-post) who is well known as great passing big and sets the screen for Kawhi. Klay do a great job defending Kawhi. Leonard reads situation and don’t fight through aggressive defense but simply back-cuts towards the basket. X4 (Green) had to “give help” to prevent Kawhi to score easy lay-up. It allowed Lowry to get wide open 3 after moving behind three-point line.

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Aggressive defense KLAY

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2 players on Kawhi

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Transition PNR (Drag). Curry attempts 3-pointer/Cousins rolls to the basket. Put back dunk. Tough decision for refs. No basket. Toronto ball.

Cousing putback

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Toronto ball. Lots of pick-and-rolls but great defense by Warriors didn’t allow Raptors players even to attempt a shot. Bad pass by Lowry at the end of the possession.

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Warriors inbound the ball from side-line. Play for Curry. Curry comes from staggered screen and makes 3-point shot that not many players even in NBA can make in clutch moments. 3 POINTS!

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X2 (VanVleet) did a good job trailing Curry but X5 (Gasol) stayed with screener (5) and didn’t help X2. If X5 helps too much it could cost easy lay-up because of 5 can cut to the basket, if X5 doesn’t help at all as it’s in this case it allows player who is coming off the screen to have a bigger chance for good shot attempt.

Defense on Curry

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Simple offense by Toronto. Ball to Kawhi. 1vs1, missed 3-point shot.

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Defensive rebound by Curry let’s him start Warriors transition offense without hesitation and attack before defense is set. Curry drives to basket and passes to Igoudala, Igoudala to Green, Green to Thompson. Shot fake + 1 dribble = 3-points. Great ball-movement by Steve Kerr’s team.

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GSW 9-0

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Time-Out Toronto. 1 time-out left. Out of time play. Lowry/Gasol PNR. Gasol missed lay-up. Great defense by Cousins contesting shot/avoiding foul at the same time.

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Veteran Gasol and Curry’s defender traps Curry, Cousins didn’t the ball. Curry passes the ball to Green. Green steps on half-court line.

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Trap Curry

Green steps on line

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Toronto High PNR (in the middle of the floor). SWITCH. Lowry attacks switch (Cousins) and scores 2 points (goal-tending). 

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Full-court press by Toronto. Same Warriors play as before when Curry scored 3-pointer but this time Cousins commits an offensive foul. Great anticipation and defense by VanVleet this time not allowing Curry to shoot 3-pointer.

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Too aggressive perimeter defense often allows offensive player to cut towards the basket but this time it worked out well except Cousins had offensive foul.

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NO time-out? Coach Nick Nurse decided not to use his last time out but to trust his players to make best decisions by themselves.

“I was confident we would come down and play and make the right decisions and get a good shot,” Nurse said. “I have a lot of faith in those guys.” (https://nba.nbcsports.com/2019/06/11/nick-nurse-no-timeout-kawhi-leonard-passing-kyle-lowry-missing-defend-handling-of-raptors-last-possession/).

Toronto last possession. Chance to win the NBA title!!! Kawhi finally receives the ball and he has 8.5 seconds to make a game-winning play.

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Igoudala – experience , sixth sense? Great trap and ball is out of Kawhi’s hands.

Igoudala risk

Igoudala trap

Kawhi passes to VanVleet (3.5 seconds left) , he passes ball to Lowry = missed 3-point shot by Lowry.

Lowry’s shot was blocked and we’ll see the last Warriors NBA game in Oracle Arena before they moving to new arena.

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One of the most entertaining NBA Finals game of all time!

Pray for KD! All the best wishes to Kevin Durant to recover from his injury…

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Thanks for reading! Kristians@abouthegame.com

 

 

DIFFERENT SUPERSTAR. KAWHI’S PERFORMANCE IN NBA FINALS G4.

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Raptors is very close to their first NBA Title and even they play team basketball this achievement won’t be possible without their superstar Kawhi. Excellent in Game 4 , excellent whole Play-Off time. More than ever we hear comparisons with Michael Jordan.

  • Kawhi Leonard sets his career-high 36 points per game in NBA Finals game;
  • 35 points and 0 turnovers on the road in NBA Finals: only Kawhi & Jordan.

‘’Kawhi is the best two-way player in NBA’’ ? Sorry Lebron’s or other NBA player’s fans but at this moment he is!

Kawhi defense Lebron

His excellent skill set and versatility + calm and always on winning focused personality makes him different than most NBA superstars. Even every superstar has his ego Leonard is team player and Toronto organisation is getting the most out of this talented basketball player.

PERFECT BASKETBALL PLAYER?

1vs1 & ISO. Excellent in creating his own shot.

PICK-AND-ROLL. Unselfish player, team-first decisions. Most of the time teams ’’respect’’ Kawhi by TRAPPING PNR. His ability to pass out of trap is just another of many offensive basketball skills. Toronto Raptors is doing great job against pick-and-roll SWITCH.

OFF-BALL SCREENS. Another great skill is coming off the off-ball screens and ability to catch=and-shoot without hesitation.

TRANSITION. After getting defensive rebound he can start offense by himself with pass or just simply coast-to-coast + lay-up or just attempting 3-point shot/mid-range shot.

MID-RANGE GAME. Fade-Away. Tough shot for most of the basketball players but this skill allows him to effective especially when there are few second left on shot clock. Similarities with Micheal Jordan?

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MJ

BACK-TO-THE-BASKET. No problem.

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FREE-THROWS. 45/48 in NBA Finals!

DUNKERS’ SPOT OR BEHIND 3-POINT LINE? BOTH.

Dunkers spot or 3

DEFENSE + REBOUNDING. Top3 perimeter defender in NBA.

Except these all amazing skills he has he ability to stay calm and not to force the action. No EGO plays. Sometimes he can even not touch the ball few offensive possessions and let Lowry and others control the offense but afterwards can score lot of points in short period of time like he did in Game 4 (3rd quarter).

DOUBLE TEAM. CAN’T SCORE HIMSELF? Pass out of the trap is not problem for Kawhi.

#1. Post trap.

Post trap Kawhi

#2. Nearest with nearest man to get the ball out of Kawhi’s hands.

Trap nearest man Kawhi

#3. Pick-and-Roll vs Kawhi.

Pick-and-roll TRAP Kawhi

#4. Drive-and-kick.

Drive and Kick Kawhi

EFFECTIVENESS. USG%.

USG% of last 4 play-off games of all NBA players who player average more than 10 minutes per game. For Kawhi and Toronto Raptors last 4 games = NBA Final games vs. Warriors.

Kawhi USG% vs PTS per game

Statistics shows that Kawhi plays very effective in NBA Finals.

+/- PLAY-OFFS

If during regular season Raptors used to play very good even without their leader Kawhi (missed 22 regular season games) then in Play-Offs his performance is reason why they play in Finals. Field goal percentage is more than 5% higher when he’s on court and Raptors plays much better (+8.4 points more!) when Kawhi is on court!

PlusMinus Kawhi

KAWHI LEONARD’S NBA FINALS CAREER-HIGH 36 POINTS PERFORMANCE IN GAME 4.

Kawhi points

  • Excellent of createing his own shot 8 of 11 Kawhi’s field goals were off the dribble and only off the catch.
  • Transition. 11 points were scored before defense was set. Two transition 3-pointers from Kawhi in the beginning of 3rd quarter was the best possible way to start second half for Raptors.
  • Second time perfect from free-throw line in NBA Finals – 9/9.
  • No lay-ups, no dunks. All shots were three-pointers/mid-range shots/fade-away or free-throws.

Derozan vs Kawhi

“I don’t play hero basketball. I am not playing for fans. I’m just playing to win. I’m not out here trying to break records …” Kawhi right after taking 3-1 lead

Good luck to Leonard in game 5 but if you not playing for fans then you can’t ask supermax deal… Fans = money… Maybe Kawhi doesn’t care of it that much as we think?

Kristians@abouthegame.com

NBA FINALS 1:1. WARRIORS VICTORY WITHOUT SECOND CHANCE POINTS & IMPORTANCE OF BALL MOVEMENT.

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WARRIORS DON’T NEED SECOND CHANCE POINTS TO TIE THE SERIES.

What is Second Chance Points?

“A basketball phrase used to describe any points scored during a possession by the offense after an offensive player has already attempted one shot and missed. If a player is fouled on a shot attempt and receives free throws, any points scored are not considered second chance points. However, if a second shot attempt in a possession results in a missed shot and a foul which awards free throws, any free throws made would be considered second chance points.” (https://www.sportingcharts.com/dictionary/nba/second-chance-points.aspx).

In short, you have to get an offensive rebound to have a second chance to score.

Golden State Warriors didn’t have any second chance point (0!) but they won the NBA Finals G2. That not happens often. They missed all 6 field goal attempts after collecting offensive rebound (second chance opportunities).

Few reasons why Coach Steve Kerr’s team didn’t have second chance points:

  • Low amount of FGA + good accuracy (if you score you can’t get an offensive rebound & less field goal attempts = less chances to grab offensive rebound).
  • High Opponent’s Defensive Rebounding % – 85.0% (the more defensive rebounds of all available you get the less offensive rebounds left for opponent). Golden State got only 6 offensive rebounds.
  • Game plan? Not sending enough players to crash the boards but instead sprinting back to be sure that Raptors don’t score in transition.
  • Simply just not lucky day (0/6 second chances).

How important factor is to score Second Chance points?

Game 2 = Toronto – Golden State 23:0… but score 104:109.

2nd chance points

2nd chance points2

It’s important to stay aggressive all game long but if team makes shots there’s no need for second chance opportunity.

As we see in diagram that it doesn’t matter if team has 0, 2, 3, 25 or 22 second chance points per game. Often outcome of the game is decided by many other factors.

Both best teams – Raptors (21st) and Warriors (22nd) wasn’t even at TOP 20 per 2nd chance points in regular season… 

Similar situation is with Offensive Rebounds. Interesting fact that only 1 team of the TOP 20 offensive rebounding teams of NBA 2019 regular season made it to NBA Conference Finals and it was Portland Trail Blazers.

Offensive rebounds NBA

Get back on defense quickly > offensive rebounding?

WARRIORS BALL MOVEMENT. TEAM BASKETBALL = WINNING BASKETBALL

Warriors can win various ways. With KD or without KD.  The fact that 34 of 38 Warriors FG was assisted tells a lot of positive things about this basketball team.

In 3rd quarter of game 2 vs Raptors all 14 (!!!) shots made were assisted = best offensive basketball in the world!

ASSISTS (2nd round of play-offs to Finals)

ASSISTS ccorrec

As we see in diagram that Golden State made 30+ assists 4 times and won all 4 games. All 4 games without Kevin Durant although absence of KD doesn’t affect Warriors assist numbers that much compared to opponent they playing against and pace of the game.

 

Everyone can be a point guard in Warriors roster.  15 of 34 assists came from PF or C position players = Green & Cousins.

Klay Thompson’s ability to catch-and-shoot without hesitation with high accuracy + ability to cut to the basket and score if defense is too aggressive = more assists for team-mates.

The most assists between 2 Warriors players in G2 vs Raptors.

Assists warriors

All 4 Draymond’s assists to Klay.

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FIRST HALF WARRIORS  vs SECOND HALF WARRIORS.

Basketball is game of runs.

Warriors started second half of G2 with 18-0 run!

“18 consecutive points given up to the Warriors – the biggest run of consecutive points to open a half in NBA Finals history.”

Raptors went scoreless over their first 12 possessions of the the second half…

Difference between 1st half and 2nd half Warriors in 2019 NBA Play-offs (only against Clippers in the first round they were better team in 1st half).

Steve Kerr’s team has won only 3 of their 12 1st halves in play-offs started from Western Conference semi-finals but they have won 9 of 12 of these games.

Half - Time scores Dubs

For those who are interested in serious and well organised basketball training sessions in Beijing please scan QR Code or Private message! A+ BASKETBALL.

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Thanks for reading! CoachKris @ HUPU!

GOLDEN STATE SWEEP PORTLAND. AGGRESSIVE PICK-AND-ROLL DEFENSE vs. LILLARD & McCOLLUM WORKS PERFECT!

Curry brothers

For most NBA basketball fans it’s not surprise that Golden State Warriors won this series and will go to 5th consecutive NBA Finals in a row.

“The last time an NBA team went to five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics, led by Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and John Havlicek during the 1965-66 season.”

Anyway, after KD/Cousins and later Igoudala were out there was a flair that it won’t be easy Western Conference Finals for Steve Kerr’s team.

We won’t talk about Curry’s unbelievable performance and fact that Warriors ball-movement offense without ISO works excellent. Warriors have won 31 of their last 32 games without Kevin Durant…

If it’s only about offense I am 100% sure that there shouldn’t be 4:0. How to stop so far in Play-Offs great playing Lillard and McCollum was the question and Warriors had an answer!

SWEEP 4-0. PORTLAND’S “EXCUSES”…?

#1. Heavy workload for Lillard. Damian Lillard is NBA player who played the most minutes this season (regular season + play-offs)

NBA heavy workload this season

#2. Trail Blazers unstable performance all game long. 3 of 4 times Portland led after half-time with total point difference +23.

GSW vs POR half-time

#3. Lillard’s rib injury.

Lillard rib

#4. McCollum’s clutch time performance.

McCollum clutch

#5. Portland’s defensive strategy in G1 allowed Curry to get many wide open looks and once world’s best three-point shooter find his offensive rhythm, it won’t be long Play-Off series for opponents.

Poor defensive performance vs Curry

#6. Portland has generated 18 more open or wide open 3-point attempts than Golden State in this series, but have just one more 3-pointer made on those shots through three games. (After 3 games).

Actually Warriors also could have lot of ”excuses” if things not going their way.  My opinions – there should be at least 1 victory for Trail Blazers, despite Warriors great performance.

WARRIORS PICK-AND-ROLL DEFENSE vs. LILLARD & McCOLLUM

THE KEY IS TO STOP PICK-AND-ROLL. 

  1. Pick-and-roll. Portland Trail Blazers and Lillard & McCollum plays the most pick-and-rolls of all teams who won their first NBA Play-Off Series.

PNR per team

players PNR

2. Distance of  Lillard’s made field goals attempts! High accuracy from long distance puts lot of pressure to defense.

Distasnce Lillard first game Denver

(Picture after Western Conference semi-finals Game1 vs Denver Nuggets).

     3. Lillard & McCollum success in 2019 Play-Offs.

Before series

WARRIORS ANSWER WAS = TRAP PICK-AND-ROLL.

Ball out of Lillard’s & McCollum’s hands + deny pass back (don’t let the ball to get back to Lillard and McCollum).

Let others play 4vs3. Especially if Nurkič out and Turner/Kanter/Leonard/Harkless not that effective in short roll situations vs. Warriors (decision making)?

Harkless and Aminu also should take advantage of 4vs3 situations, it wasn’t the best series for both of them.

It’s risk but… if other teammates can’t play 4vs3 effective? That’s calculated risk and it makes sense.

There will be few examples of Dubs successful aggressive defense vs. Lillard & McCollum.

SITUATION #1 explained.

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Warriors defenders TRAPS Lillard. Kanter (5) short roll (elbow area). In 2 seconds he has to make a play because his defender is ready to recover after the ball is passed out of trap. Usually xA helps so x5 can recover back to 5 (also full rotation option is possible) but since Aminu (A) is not great 3-point shooter he is left in the corner completely open and it allows xA (Green) to make the most appropriate decision.

PNR trap 4

PNR Trap 5

Poor spacing don’t help Trail Blazers and Kanter play 1vs1 and lost the ball.

In short: #1 POOR SPACING + #2 BELOW AVERAGE 3-POINT SHOOTER TEAMMATE = opportunity for opponents to TRAP ball-handler effectively!

SITUATION #2. explained.

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Aggressive TRAP! McCollum forced to catch the ball near half-court line. Harkless pick-and-pop.

PNR Trap 6

Since McCollum’s back is to the basket it’s great opportunity to deny first pass out of TRAP. Since Aminu is left wide open very far from ball-handler and Warriors defenders deny first pass out of TRAP he has to cut towards the ball.

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PNR trap 7

Aminu (A) catches the ball and pass to Harkless (4). Harkless (4) another bad decision leads to missed shot. Since X5 has to help to stop 4, xL has to help the helper and cover 5.

PNR Trap 3

Excellent team defense that allowed to TRAP McCollum and within 2 seconds being from 3vs4 disadvantage to be back not only to 5vs5 situation but even 5vs4!

PNR trap2

Warriors back after trap

Other examples of Golden State aggressive pick-and-roll defense.

Steal.

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Ball out of Lillard’s hands + ball movement + open 3-pointer for Leonard. Missed 3-pointer.

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Short roll + pass to Aminu (behind 3-point line). Missed 3-pointer.

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Ball out of McCollum’s hands + pass to Turner + floater from free-throw line area. Turner’s floater is shot what Portland prefers instead any type of shot from Lillard or McCollum.

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Turner Pick-and-Pop + drive and creates shot for himself. Missed mid-range shot.

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Of course no strategy is perfect. If you trap pick-and-roll or trap player with ball once he crossed half-court line you give up something.

For example:

  • Ball-handler splits the trap or attacks defender before screen is set.
  • Ball-handler anticipates trap and quickly pass to big who is rolling to the basket.
  • Screener pops behind three-point line and if teammates not ready to rotate very often it’s wide open three-pointer or drive to the basket.
  • Screener short roll (stops at the free-throw line) and makes great decisions (for example Green, Harrell also Nurkič). Dunk, mid-range shot or pass to open team-mate behind three-point line or someone who cuts to the basket.

Great example when screener’s defender is just 1 second late or not aggressive enough… It can cost 3 points since Lillard can score from very long distance.

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Not always Warriors were able to cover 4 vs 3 situations perfect after ball was passed out of trap but their plan worked well  – ball was out of Lillard’s and McCollum’s hands (tons of missed wide open threes and bad decision making from other teammates helped Warriors).

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Kristians@abouthegame.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

WARRIORS vs ROCKETS. KD vs THE BEARD. 2:2. INTERESTING FACTS & NUMBERS.

GOLDEN STATE vs. HOUSTON 2:2.

NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals. 2:2. Actually it should be Western Conference Final but it is how it is. No game between these teams won by more than 6 points.

This is the 5th time under Steve Kerr that the Warriors are tied or trailing after 4 games of a playoff series.

GSW HOU

 

I guess most of NBA basketball fans remember last season’s Play-Off series between Warriors and Rockets. 27 missed 3-pointers in a row and CP3’s injury and other factors didn’t let Rockets to win West and go to NBA Finals.

Two different teams with few similarities – ball-movement vs. ISO team. Medium-fast teams vs. medium slow team. Both teams like to shoot from outside. Both teams had best offenses in NBA during regular season  – Warriors #1 (OffRTG 115.9) vs. Rockets #2 (OffRTG 115.5)…

Coach Kerr: “They’re linebackers, we’re volleyball players.”

2-2 ROCKEts

Maybe that’s me but it looks that Rockets are more hungry and it makes sense.

Teams to go up 2-0 in best-of-7 series WON 93.5% OF SERIES (286-20 record).

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At this point of series I feel that Coach D’Antoni team has much much more than 6.5% chance to win :))

 

KD vs HARDEN = SCORING MACHINES.

This is the 1st time in NBA history that opposing players have averaged 35+ PPG in the first four games of a playoff series.

Harden and KD

 

KD vs HARDEN performance comparison.

KD vs Harden...

Rockets and Warriors have scored almost the same amount of points and their best players in this series also – Durant 36.0 points per game, Harden 35.8. The main difference is that Harden shoots 2 times more 3-pointers and overall FG% is lower than KD. Durant shoots 3-pointers with much higher accuracy. Other stats overall are not that different between these players.

TOO MANY 3-POINTERS?

“The Rockets and Warriors shot a combined 25-for-83 in threes last night. Is this the kind of game we want? Really?”

I agree with author of this quote but on the other hand ugly victory is better than loss in beautiful game. Houston Rockets last season had the best offense in basketball history.

3-point shooting.. GSWHOU

Houston Rockets offense = shots from 3-point line and restricted area, NO MID-RANGE shots.

Rockets offense

Both teams led NBA in regular season in average distance of field goal attempts. Both Rockets and Warriors field goal was attempted furthest from basket compared to other NBA teams.

Distance NBA

In 3 of 4 games in Western Conference Finals between these teams 3-point attempt rate was 45%+ (3Ar shows how many shots of all field goal attempts were 3-pointers).

3AR

4TH quarter 3-point shooting – 3/23 (!)… 😦

COACH STEVE KERR’S SIDE-LINE OUT OF BOUNDS PLAY FOR DURANT.

Despite Rockets leading almost whole game Warriors somehow find a way to almost tie the game in last seconds of Game 4. Great play designed by Coach Kerr freed KD for 3-point shot, unfortunately for Warriors both Durant and Curry missed their 3-pointers and it’s very likely that we will see Game 7!

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Play2

play2

Play4

Thanks for reading! CoachKris@HUPU. Kristians@abouthegame.com

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EMBIID LEADS PHANTASTIC 5 OVER RAPTORS. WHERE IS TORONTO DEPTH?

PHI TOR

GAME 3. 2:1.  76ers & Phantasic 5 won Toronto Raptors by +21 (116:95)  – team with one of the best defenses in NBA. 6 straight games before G3 Raptors allowed less than 100 points what is excellent result in today’s NBA.

TORONTO Raps

If defense in G1 & G2 was great as usual then it wasn’t at it’s best in G3.

As we know defense wins championships/defense is constant/defense has no bad days… It will be alright with Raps defense but the main problem is OFFENSE. 76ers never been among the best defensive teams in NBA 2018-19 regular season and Play-Offs as well, it’s just OK – not good, not bad.

Only 9 of 82 regular season games Toronto team scored less than 100 points + only 3rd time this season they have scored less that 100 points 2 games in a row.

Every game another HERO.

HEALTY EMBIID + BUTLER’S OFFENSE.

But Emd

Embiid’s health problems + great Raptors defense on him was the reason why Embiid didn’t play the best basketball in G1 & G2.

Embiid 1st 2 games

Embiid performance G3

”Multiple high-energy moments from Joel Embiid sparked a big Game 3 win for the Sixers against the Raptors.”

Embiid scored various ways:

  • Post-up;
  • Free-throws;
  • Pick-and-roll (roller);
  • 1vs1 (shot fake + drive to the basket);
  • ISO + mid-range shot.

76ers often run this play where Redick sets cross-screen to free up Embiid so he can receive the ball near basket or in low post area. xE (Embiid’s defender) play close to Embiid not allowing use screen effectively and this case he forces Embiid to the middle. xR (Redick’s defender) should “bump” Embiid but at the same time be ready to follow Redick since he is elite 3-point shooter which quick release.

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Embiid redick cross-screen

Embiid redick cross-screen2

Embiid is much more valuable to his 76ers team when he’s not only HEALTHY but also had a REST between games. In back-to-back games in regular season (0 days rest) his +/- is much lower than games when he had 1-2 days to rest.

Embiid rest22

In my opinion Coach Nick Nurse’s team’s decisions to overreact to Cameroonian shot fake wasn’t the best decision. Yes, Embiid (30% career 3-point shooter) shot 3-pointers well – 3/4, but as we can see in diagram below it’s not the factor who decide winner of the game. Rather it’s windmill dunk what makes 76ers fans and players get pumped up.

NBA 2018-19 regular season. 76ers were only 6-4 in games when Embiid made 3+ 3-pointers. 

Embiid 3-pointers

Embiid’s 3 point shot attempt (30% shooter) or windmill dunk? 

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Philadelphia is known as ball-movement team and sometimes not all the players who joined during the season can adapt. Jimmy Butler feels much better when ball is in his hands. He is great pick-and-roll player and he proved it in G3. Philly needs his points in offense if they want to win Raptors!

Ok, let’s say Simmons didn’t play the best game of the season but overall none of Philadelphia 76ers players had a bad G3. It’s hard to stop PHANTASTIC 5 if they all play their game.

PHI TOR12

1ST HALF. RAPTORS TRANSITION DEFENSE & PHILLY’S OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING.

Raptors as usual did great job in their half-court defense. Transition defense was the problem.

TRANSITION DEFENSE. Sprint back/see the ball all the time/stop the ball/find nearest player (switching is less worse than losing 2 points while finding your own offensive player).

3050n2

“No one box out in NBA anymore…” (Jeff Van Gundy). 76ers is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in NBA and Raptors should be aware of it.

START OF 4TH QUARTER

TOR PHi 4th QT

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH TORONTO OFFENSE?

Kawhi and Siakam need more help! Kawhi plays MJ & Kobe level offense but I can’t say the same about most of Raptors players.

vlcsnap-2019-05-04-16h39m01s811

Fade away Jordan

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Where is Ibaka/Lowry/VanVleet? Marc Gasol also should be more like offensive threat not 7 feet tall pass first player.

Lowry said :”I’m not putting it on nobody else but me.”

Lowry1

Lowry TOR

 

Raptors players Regular season vs Play-Off Series (3 games against 76ers).

(POINTS/FIELD GOAL ATTEMPTS/FIELD GOAL %)

Roster Raprs

Green = increase, yellow = not meaningful changes, light red = slight decrease, dark red = decrease.

PHANTASTIC 5 vs RAPTORS DEPTH? IS RAPTORS DEPTH OVERRATED?

One of the main concerns of Philly’s Play-Off success was their lack of depth and vice-versa Toronto Raptors was considered as the team with depth. Great defender OG is out, Jeremy Lin injured (?) but it doesn’t change the fact that most of Raptors players play like below average NBA players. VanVleet better than McConnell? Ibaka better than Marjanovic? Powell better than Ennis/Scott?

Bench players FG% in Game 3.

Bench players shooting G3

A+ Chinese version real

 

Thanks for reading NBA basketball fans! Kristians@abouthegame.com

CELTICS’ GREAT WALL STOPS GREEK FREAK!

HOW TO STOP GREEK FREAK? ANSWER = YOU CAN’T BUT…

It’s impossible to stop and take away all the options of probably #1 MVP candidate of NBA 2018-19 regular season. Greek Freak somehow will score his 20 points. Anyway, every player has weaknesses and strengths so Giannis does. He’s unique athlete which scores most of the points from restricted area but not too often relies on jump shots (definitely below average 3-point shooter). Deadly for opponents in transition offense.

Giannis %

HOW DID BOSTON CELTICS STOP GREEK FREAK?

Brad Stevens

#1. DISTANCE. Simply if your opponent isn’t great outside shooter (despite 3/5 from 3-point line in G1), don’t guard him too close. Also distance should be that great since Giannis needs 1-2 dribbles to get to the rim and simply dunk over defender.

Distance

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#2. TRANSITION DEFENSE. Great transition offense starts with good shot selection in offense. Bucks was the 2nd fastest team in NBA Regular season and Giannis can be deadly if ball in his hands during offensive transition.

Everyone back, below ball line, wide stance, no paint!

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No paint for Giannis! Everyone behind the ball level (blue line).

No PAINTreal

Great Wall

#3. NO 1vs1. Positional play. Everyone in wide two hands stance. Hands make defender look “bigger”. Off-ball defenders ready to help. Giannis 1vs1 in painted area = 2 points. It was very rare that he got into the painted area without 3-4 defenders around him.2zs29m

Great example

No straight-line drives, hands up = no fouls!

#4. POST. Celtics sent him baseline and once Antetokounmpo tried to turn to the basket there were help defender right in front of him. Again, no 1vs1.

Post defense

 

#5. PICK-AND-ROLL (Giannis as screener). Since Giannis is not considered as outside threat (despite his 3/5 3-point shooting in G1) Coach Stevens’ strategy was AWAY (force ball-handler away from screen) and for side-line pick-and-roll it was ICE defense. Every time Giannis rolled to the basket one or more defenders already was waiting him there ready to guard him if he receives the pass from ball-handler.

2zs2mr

2zs2ek

#6. FULL ROTATION. Every time Greek Freak drove to the basket + drew defenders and passed the ball to team-mates Boston team was ready rotate. Height and athleticism allows Celtics players to guard multiple positions so they don’t worry about SWITCHING that might occur during full-rotation. Boston is one of the best teams in NBA covering 3-point line (interesting that Milwaukee is the #1 in NBA).

2zs27a

#6. BIG BODIES. Horford/Baynes/Morris. Despite Giannis athleticism he had a hard time to effectively play against these players 1vs1. Greek Freak is quicker but not always he was able to get good looks once he had to play through the contact.

2zs28f

GIANNIS 4 years transformation

#7. GIANNIS CREATES OPPORTUNITIES TO OTHERS. Others should do better job of taking advantage of Giannis ability to draw defenders. They had a plenty good opportunities to score. If Giannis/Mirotic/Middleton shot 3-pointers with high accuracy then other team-mates were only 4/27 from 3-point line and bunch of them were open.

Also absence of Brogdon who is 42.6% 3-point shooter don’t help to Bucks..

Anyway, once Bucks find their rhythm they will be very hard to stop by any team in NBA. This will be very interesting series!

Interesting fact that Boston Celtics set their franchise record for 3-pointers made per game (24) against Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season.

MIL vs BOS

My prediction: we will see GAME 7!

Kristians@abouthegame.com