WHY ROCKETS WON OR WHY WARRIORS LOST? REVIEW OF WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 5

WHY ROCKETS WON OR WHY WARRIORS LOST? REVIEW OF WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 5.

KD vs CP32

It’s not that often to see such a low scoring basketball games twice in a row between two best offensive teams in NBA:

GSW

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS Offensive rating – Regular season 112.3 (1st in NBA) and play-offs 109.3 (2nd in NBA);

HOU

HOUSTON ROCKETS Offensive rating – Regular season 112.2 (2nd in NBA) and play-offs 108.6 (3rd in NBA).

Both teams has huge offensive potential but as it’s well known:

OFFENSE WINS GAMES, DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS… In this case I would say rather the team who will be able to show their offensive potential first again while keeping defense at the same level will win series and there’s not much time left for Dubs to do it.

REASONS WHY  HOU  WON GAME 5:

  • GREAT INDIVIDUAL AND TEAM DEFENSE (help/recover/rotations). Ability to SWITCH effectively and doing great job by defending Warriors ISO situations. Aggressive defense by Rockets was one of the reasons why Warriors committed 18 turnovers in game 5.

Few of many examples of great defense by Rockets.

Great defense HOU1

Great defense HOU 2

 

  • NOT ONLY HARDEN. Despite James Harden’s historically poor three-point shooting night (3p. 0/11!) CP3 too leadership role in 2nd half by scoring points (18 of 20 points in 2nd half), controlling team’s offense and creating opportunities for teammates. CP3 was great at attacking bigger defenders with his speed after Warriors used to SWITCH most of PNRs.

CP3 vs. West = Drive + lay-up.

CP3 Size mismatch DRIVE

CP3 vs Bell. Creates his own 3-point shot. 3 points.

CP3 Size mismach

Excellent game for GORDON especially 4/4 QT – 10 points (2p. 1/1, 3p. 1/1. 1p. 5/5) making all his shot attempts + bringing energy and leadership both offensively and defensively in moments when it was needed the most!

Also Capela played very effectively both defensively and offensively (12 pts + 14 reb FG 5/6) and Green shot well from 3-point line (3/5).

Anyway Rockets offense was far from great but their toughness and aggressiveness on the both ends of the floor allows them to win defending champions even shooting only 29/78 (37.2%) FG and 13/43 (30.2%) from 3-point line… As I mentioned earlier both teams has huge offensive potential.

Both in G4 and G5 Warriors fouled Rockets more. 

FOULS

Rockets won all the games in this series when they had more free-throw attempts than Warriors and free-throw attempts difference especially in last 2 games was huge. It’s great to see Houston winning defending champions not only because of making three-pointers!

Free-Throws

  • END OF GAME SITUATIONS. Rockets make better decisions and take their chances in the last few minutes of the game. Both in game G4 and G5 Rockets have won last 3 minutes of the game: Game 4 – 4:3, Game 5 – 6:5

 

  • STRATEGY TO “SWITCH” ALL OFF-BALL & ON-BALL SCREENS. WARRIORS – BALL MOVEMENT to ISO. Winners usually don’t change strategy if it works. By switching all screens Houston affects Golden State offense turning them into ISO team instead of being BALL-MOVEMENT team.

 

  • P.J. TUCKER. The player who might be under-rated in Rockets success in last 2 games. Similar height and weight as former NBA star Charles Barkley maybe less athletic but with ability to shoot behind the arc.

Tucker played the most minutes of all Rockets players both in Game 4 (44:08) Game 5 (42:14) and had the best +/- +14 (G5) and +21 (G4+G5) which is also the best of all Houston players in last 2 games.

His versatility cause lot of problems for opponents – ability to defend multiple positions, rebounding, great passing and spreading the floor offensively makes him very valuable player especially for type of offense coach Mike D’Antoni is playing.

 

REASONS WHY  GSW LOST GAME 5:

The last time when Golden State have lost 2 games in a row and opposite team’s FG% is lower than 40% in both of games was almost 6 years ago…

10.11.2012 vs Lakers: FG 40% 77:101

11.11.2012 vs Nuggets: FG 38.1% 101:107 (OT)

  • UNFORCED TURNOVERS. Lot of times it wasn’t about Rockets defensive efforts that much as for themselves making bad decisions…

More turnovers = more easy baskets for opponents.

TO points

Just a few examples of unforced turnovers by Warriors.

Unforced TO 1

Unforcet TO 2

 

  • WARRIORS CAN’T FIND OFFENSIVE RHYTHM. 1) Because of great Houston defense and strategy to “switch” all screens turning them into ISO team instead of BALL-MOVEMENT team. 2) Simply because of their best players not playing well and struggling with poor shot selection. Curry was turned to 2-point shooter instead of 3-point shooter.

 

  • NOT EFFECTIVE ENOUGH OF TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SIZE/SPEED MISMATCH SITUATIONS. Since there are lot of switching.. Why not to create size advantage situations vs. CP3? Even he’s not the weakest player in NBA, the best offensive team in the world should take advantage of CP3 in the low post or another way because of his lack of size. It will affect CP3 offense because of fatigue and get him in foul trouble…  If they switch WHY NOT take advantage of it all the time???

It’s not about bad shooting night but it’s about creating better shots in these situations.

KD vs CP3. Durant should do better job of using his size advantage vs CP3 in the low post. Especially in Game 5.

KD vs CP3 not successful

Livingston vs CP3 in the low post.

Livingston vs CP3 not success

 

  • CURRY/DURANT/THOMPSON INABILITY TO BE CONSISTENT AND PLAY WELL TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME. In my previous article about G4 I tried to show how the importance of Curry playing well affects whole Warriors team offensively that much.

 

  • TERRIBLE DECISIONS IN END OF GAME SITUATIONS. No comments.

 

WHY WARRIORS STILL CAN WIN SERIES?

Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. 

Good thing is that there are 17 percent left and I think that similar to Eastern Conference Finals there is optimism for team who has lost Game 5 – both for Warriors and Cavaliers. It’s not over yet.

  • PLAY-OFF SERIES EXPERIENCE & CONFIDENCE. Harden and CP3 has no ring yet. It can help Dubs having “winning mentality”.
  • THE BEST OFFENSIVE TEAM IN LEAGUE HAS HUGE POTENTIAL OFFENSIVELY. They simply can’t play 3 below average games in a row offensively against one opponent.
  • THERE’S NO WAY BACK and they have been in SITUATIONS like this BEFORE!
  • GAME 6. CP3 OUT & IGOUDALA BACK? Mike D’Antoni already shorten his players rotation to 6-7 and CP3 injury is very very bad news for Rockets. I can’t emphasize his importance for team’s offense.

Sorry Rockets fans but only scenario for Rockets to win Game 6 I see is having excellent 3-point shooting night. My prediction is easy win for Golden State in Game 6 by 10 or more points.

Thanks for reading. CoachKris@HUPU.com

 

 

WARRIORS MAKE THEIR LIFE HARDER AFTER NOT USING THEIR CHANCES & ROCKETS SHOW THEIR CHARACTER.

WARRIORS MAKE THEIR LIFE HARDER AFTER NOT USING THEIR CHANCES

& ROCKETS SHOW THEIR CHARACTER.

 

ROCKETS

It wasn’t about Houston playing extremely well offensively or only about Harden’s or Paul’s great performance…  It was more about Golden State not able to use right moments to run away from Rockets team when they were struggling + 16 turnovers.

Last time when Golden State scored 92 or LESS POINTS  vs. Houston was almost 3.5 years ago – 83:90 (20.10.2014). Before G4 they were able to score 92 or MORE POINTS 28 GAMES IN A ROW vs. ROCKETS.

Despite well above average individual defense by Houston you don’t see often team losing a game with statistics like this:

                       16 Offensive rebounds + Opp. FG% 39.0 + FT% 92.9 (13/14).

Game 3 – 126:85 (+41):

11 Offensive rebounds + Opp. FG% 39.5 + FT% 94.4 (17/18).

Of course the amount of offensive rebounds will be lower if team shoots with higher FG% but it also shows ability to fight for rebounds that gives them chance to gain another possession (2nd chance).

 

BASKETBALL IS A GAME OF RUNS. WARRIORS vs ROCKETS.

GAME of RUNS

Very often it’s about how you start the game but this time Rockets showed their character to not giving up and also improving their on-ball defense throughout the game.

Despite their 0-12 start and more than 5 minutes not able to score, The Beard and colleagues fought till the end won away game against the best offensive team in NBA (OffRTG 112.3 1st NBA).

GSW 1st QT

CURRY HAS TO PLAY WELL THROUGHOUT WHOLE GAME.

KD have scored 25 or more point in every Play-off game so far, the problem is Curry to be stable for long period of time. He has been out in the beginning of play-offs, it definitely affects his game now. If Curry make 3’s it puts lot of pressure for defenders and he can help to create better shots for his teammates for example Thompson who is catch-and-shoot player.

Curry QT SHOTS

               Curry scores 2+ 3-point shots in QT GSW = +47 points (avg. +15.67);

               Curry scores 1 3-point shot in QT = +9 (avg. +2.25);

               Curry scores 0 3-point shots in QT = -29 (avg. -3.22).

 

IGOUDALA OUT WITH KNEE INJURY FOR GAME 4

Igoudala defense

1 FG ALLOWED vs. 41 MATCHUPS DEFENDING JAMES HARDEN & CHRIS PAUL. Defending champions’s ability to defend Harden and CP3 definitely was affected because of absence of their best defender Igoudala. His ability to fight through screens (Curry “show&recover”) and not letting Harden to have favourable mismatch vs. Curry was very important to Warriors defensive game plan. Physical strength, experience and long arms makes his defensive game very effective (MVP of 2015 NBA Finals).

ABILITY OF CREATING MATCHUP TEAMS WANT AND TAKING ADVANTAGE OF IT. ATTACKING TO HARDEN AND CURRY.

As it’s often seen in these play-offs and also these Western conference finals aren’t exception:

  • Both teams mainly SWITCH both on-ball and off-ball screens.
  • Curry vs. Harden, Durant vs. Harden, Durant vs. CP3, Harden vs. Curry, CP3 vs. Curry,  Curry vs. Capela, CP3 vs. Looney are mismatches teams are looking the most often. Principle – attack to the weakest parts of defense and let opponent’s best offensive players work hard on defense so it could affect their offensive game.
  • If defense is forced to help more for ISO situations, it can make life easier for other teammates = more open shots or better chance to drive to the basket after receiving the pass.

HARDEN vs CURRY

Rockets constantly are looking for this matchup. Most of the time Harden play effective when guarded by Curry. In game 3 we saw response from defending champions coaching stuff. Instead of SWITCH , Curry wanted to stay attached to his man by using “SHOW&RECOVER” PNR defense strategy. For every defense there is also an answer from offense.

CUrry showrec

 

show rec 2

 

Coach D’Antoni response for this PNR defense coverage was Ariza who defended Curry at that period of the game to “SHORT ROLL” instead of “POP”. I didn’t see this strategy too often in Game 4 since Rockets did a great job offensively vs. this strategy. Interesting solution of both of the teams. It’s constant battle between defense and offense.

Another option how Warriors defended PNR when Curry is screener’s defender was “FLAT” coverage. It was good strategy in situations when Harden’s initial defender did great job fighting OVER the screen and still remaining in good defensive position (not letting Harden to attack after coming off the screen) + screener (Ariza) wasn’t threat as roller because of different spacing and different PNR coverage.

It also could be that initially it was considered to “SHOW” but it turned out to be “FLAT” situation.

Curry “FLAT” vs PNR

FLAT CURRY

Despite trying not to SWITCH every time Harden and CP3 1-on-1 attacks Curry often and pretty effective.

CP3 vs Curry after PNR SWITCH 

CP3 vs CURRY

Harden vs Curry (3 points)

HARDEN attack CURRY

KD vs CP3. This is the size mismatch where Durant is very effective in high-post or low-post (closer to the basket). I think GSW should look more to create this mismatch since Houston SWITCH everything.

KD vs CP3. Great sideline inbounds by Steve Kerr.

KD vs CP3 timeout

Another example of KD vs CP3. 

KD vs CP3 2

SWITCH all (off-ball, on-ball screens) is great strategy against great shooter. Klay Thompson not having great series so far against Rockets.

Thompson definitely isn’t the best ball-handler who can create 3-point shot for himself off the dribble, he is catch-and-shoot player.

Switching off-ball screens not allow him coming off screen and catch-and-shoot. Also ISO slows offense down a bit and he becomes spot-up shooter. Help from Green’s defender is much more likely to come to stop ISO not from Thompson who is the one of the best 3-point shooters in the world. Also reduction of Rockets turnovers doesn’t allow him get open looks in offensive transition situations.

Switch off-ball screen + deny pass to Thompson

THOMPSON stop1

Switching not allow Klay Thompson to catch the ball coming off 2 screens + Ariza did great job defensively pressuring the KD.

THOMPSON stop 2

During summer I hope to publish my “Encyclopedia of three-point shooting. Situations & Scenarios” for advanced basketball fans.

Another response for offensive team if defense switch all screens = cut to the basket if defender makes defensive error.

Young cuts to the basket after setting the screen.

Back CUT

 

Thank you for reading! Kristians@abouthegame.com

 

CLEVELAND OFFENSE LOOKS GREAT AGAIN!

CLEVELAND OFFENSE LOOKS GREAT AGAIN!

CLE

EVERY OFFENSE LOOKS GREAT IF TEAM SHOOT WELL.

Big part of Cleveland offense and any other successful offense in NBA is three-point shooting. It helps spread the floor and puts lot of pressure on defense.

Cavaliers in regular season was team which had 3PAr (3-Point Attempt rate) 37.9% (4th in NBA) and they made average 12.0 3-pointers per game (3rd in NBA).

It’s easy to run your offense effectively if you shoot 17/34 (50%) from 3-point line. G1 and G2 total 14/57 (24.5%). 

CAVS CAN WIN SERIES WITH OFFENSE NOT DEFENSE

They are great offensive team – Offensive Rating 112.9 (regular season 5th in NBA) but definitely not the best defensive team – Defensive Rating 111.9 (regular season 2nd worst in NBA).

As I mentioned previous article for older teams the rest is much more important than younger teams. They did great job in defensive end of the floor and it positively affected their offense. Team looks much better after rest. That was obvious that team did much better job playing individual defense and also letting Celtics to grab only 6 offensive rebounds (9.4 per game regular season) was one of the main factors that let Cavaliers dominate game from first to last minute.

One very important thing for Cavaliers offense is stability – they need to play well at the same time, it’s not only about Lebron, Love or Korver making three-pointers in particular game.

Veteran teams don’t play that fast but their style is to play smart, to know timing,  to know right moments when change speed and when to stop.

“In the 40 years since the league started counting turnovers (and through last season), none of the 10 teams who reached the playoffs as a bottom-three team in defensive efficiency won a series.” (NBA.com)

BOSTON DIDN’T FIND THEIR OFFENSIVE RHYTHM IN THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME

The winner of the game 3 was decided already in first quarter of the game . As I mentioned before, Cavaliers defense was better + the fact : No team has come back from down 3-0 in NBA history in a best-of-seven series, definitely was in hosts’ mind, there’s no need additional motivation for King and his team.

After 7 minutes of playing score was 4:20… Not only because Cavaliers defense was better but:

  • GAME 3 – 6 TO in 14:28 minutes  (6 TO total in Game 2)
  • C’s missed easy shots from close range in the first few minutes of the game.
  • More turnovers and more missed shots for Boston = more opportunities for Cavaliers to attack Celtic’s defense effectively (offensive transition/fast break)
  • Celtics didn’t find their rhythm offensively. Only Tatum scored more that 13 points.

 

CAVALIERS OFFENSE – EXCITING TO WATCH

Offense wasn’t that static as we saw first 2 games. Better ball movement. Players trust each other. Both back-court (G. Hill/J.R. Smith) players who was played terrible in the first 2 games played much better in Game 3. As we see in these play-off series, not always your best player have to score 40+ points to win the game.

TACTICAL POINT OF VIEW

Very often it’s defense that dictates offense. For example, if defense switches all the screens (both on-ball and off-ball) it stops offensive movement for a while because of ISO situations – offensive team wants to take advantage of size mismatch or speed mismatch. (perimiter/low post).

Boston “SWITCH” LESS OFTEN than in Game 2… There’s saying that winners don’t change their strategy if game is won but idea behind of it could be to prevent hosts to adjust their offense to constant switching (similar what Rockets did in G2 after playing “ISO to EXTREME in G1).

OFF-BALL SCREENS. Instead of switching they more often follow their assigned offensive player and fought through the screens.

ON-BALL SCREENS. Of course strategy depends on offensive player’s strengths and weaknesses but mainly it wasn’t SWITCH at the moment of the screen is set but FLAT (vs Lebron), FLAT+SWITCH, ICE+SWITCH (switching happens after ball-handler attacks the Big man who stays below level of the ball-screen).

More often than last game Cavaliers offense involved back-screens and flare-screens.

More player movement without the ball.

FEW EXAMPLES OF GREAT BASKETBALL BY CAVALIERS

This play was run very often during G3. Great play: down-screen + flare screen for shooter with lot of options after initial cut. Players movement also important, more dynamic offense.

CLE FLARE 1

Down-screen + hand-off + flare-screen. By moving to opposite corner 3 takes his defender with him = good spacing.

CLE FLARE 2

Options for ball-handler (Lebron):

  1. Pass to 2 or 3 for three-point shot.
  2. Play PNR with 5 (usually) Thompson.
  3. TRIANGLE – move the ball and look for post player (Love).

CLE FLARE 4

CLE FLARE 5

 

CLE Flare

CLE Flare 2

CLE Flare 3

CLE Flare 4

 

OTHER SITUATIONS (Simple and effective High IQ basketball)

Principle: SET THE SCREEN TO GET OPEN! (Korver)

CLE GREAT 2

Principle: PUNISH DEFENSIVE HELP BY SETTING OFF-BALL SCREEN (defender can help more other players further from player who isn’t great shooter. Thompson vs Baynes this situation). Thompson sets screen to get open shot for his teammate J.R. Smith.

CLE GREAT 3

Back-screen for Lebron = dunk. Screener’s defender should better job helping but if Lebron cuts with full speed towards the basket Rozier doesn’t have a chance to stop him even by “bumping” him. Great job by coach Lue attacking C’s weakest parts of defense.

CLE GREAT 4

I think Chewbacca was very excited with performance Cavaliers showed at G3 🙂

chew

 

Thanks for reading! Kristians@abouthegame @ HUPU

 

 

 

 

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: CAVALIERS vs CELTICS. THOUGHTS AFTER GAME 2. WHY CELTICS PLAY BETTER?

946621774.jpg.0

 

CAVALIERS vs. CELTICS: HOW THE TEAMS MATCH UP FOR THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS.

CLE

OLD/EXPERIENCED (avg. age 28.9 2nd in NBA); oldest starting 5 in NBA.

HEAVY: The heaviest team in NBA (avg. 102.7 kg).

SLOW (Play-Offs): PACE 91.3 (15th of 16) (of course PACE Rating depends on match-up a lot).

Despite 2nd worst Defensive Rating (111.9) during NBA regular season during Play-Off series against Indiana and Toronto defense has improved relatively to other teams. Of course we didn’t see a lot of excitement of Cavs defense vs. Celtics in the first 2 games.

TOP 5 OFFENSE in NBA during regular season: Offensive Rating 112.9. The best OffRtg in play-off second round vs. Toronto (121.5) among all the play-off teams. Team with huge offensive potential.

 

BOS

YOUNG/ATHLETIC  (9th youngest team in NBA avg. age 25.6). Since absence of Hayward, Irving bigger role in team’s rotation plays youngest players of the team: Tatum (20), Brown (21), Rozier (24) that makes team even younger.

HEAVY: 101.6 kg (4th in NBA)

SLOW: PACE rating play-off 93.3 (12th of 16);  Regular season 96.0 (24th of 30).

The best DEFENSIVE TEAM during regular season – Defensive Rating 103.9 (1st); Play-Off Defensive Rating 106.1 (4th of 16).

OFFENSE IMPROVED during PLAY-OFF series compare to regular season. Play-Off Offensive Rating – 110.4 (5th of 16).

 

BOSCLE

CAVALIERS OFFENSE vs CELTICS OFFENSE

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS offensive game success rely on Lebron James ability to score and create shots for teammates + Kevin Love if the is in best shape and play his game and other teammates make their 3-pointers or another way play their role successfully.  Very important to all players to play great at the same time, that makes Cavs offense very effective. Depend on situation Lebron can play PG, SG, SF and PF role if necessary.  Sometimes there is feeling that Cavaliers offense is too static but it’s only my opinion.

BOSTON CELTICS  offense is different from Cavs because of their roster differences and of course coach Brad Stevens different basketball philosophy.  C’s play more team basketball since they don’t have 1-2 superstars (Irving, Hayward injuries) in their roster but almost always all 5 players on the court are able to create their own shot, play 1vs1 and play with back to the basket. Their ball movement is better than Cavs this series.

passes bos cle

CAVALIERS’ BACKCOURT PROBLEM…

 

startings backcourts

 

Cleveland teammates have to say BIG “THANK YOU” to Lebron James and also Kevin Love for chance to still compete for NBA Title… Other guys need to play well not only sometimes but consistently!

J.R. Smith and G. Hill were outscored 41-3 by Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, who were faster and hungrier. Also much younger – 21 and 24 vs. 32 and 32..

At this point of their careers JR and Hill aren’t effective enough any more to compete against Boston Celtics back-court who are fast, athletic, young, and hungry and of course having great skills set.

JR Smith’s streakiness makes him very dangerous, since he start to score, it’s hard to stop him, but now things go completely opposite way.

Why not give a chance to Clarkson and Calderon? Both can give benefits for the team offensively, the question is… defensive abilities.

ABILITY TO ATTACK “SWITCH” & PLAY 1-ON-1

As we see in play-off series the most often used strategy both vs. on-ball and vs. off-ball screens = SWITCH. Teams who can attack “switch” effectively has a bigger chance to win series.

The best scenario to SWITCH is when all 5 players on the court has similar size/quickness/strength. Both teams switch ball-screens and off-ball screens a lot so the  ability to play get benefit out of these situations is the key offensively.  Except Lebron who is doesn’t care who he playing against on the perimeter or low-post and also Kevin Love abilities to play effective vs. size mismatch in mid-range or low post CONSISTENTLY other Cavaliers this series haven’t showed any success doing it vs. great Boston defense. Vice-versa.. Almost all 5 Boston players can attack successfully size/strength/speed mismatch any time. Tatum, Brown, Rozier, Horford, Morris….

Tatum was very effective attacking defensive “switch” vs. Thompson

TATUM 1vs1

SWITCH ATTACK1

Morris attacks “switch” vs. Thompson with speed.

SWITCH ATTACK Morris

Are Hill, JR or Korver capable to attack 1vs1 vs. “switch” using quickness and athleticism at this stage of their career?

Hill vs. Morris

HILL vs SWITCH

 

Interesting solution vs. size advantage in the low-post against Kevin Love strength and size advantage by Brad Stevens.

Since against low post FRONT passer can’t pass directly ball to post player but have to pass lob pass, there is “air time” within defender X2 and X5 can neutralize strength and size mismatch.

Untitled

Love post

 

FRONT LOve2

front LOVE TO

 

AL HORFORD’S VERSATILITY CAUSE LOT OF PROBLEMS FOR CLEVELAND DEFENSE

Horford can rebound, play effectively in low-post, high-post, mid-range, rebound the ball, play 1vs1 on perimeter, shoot 3-pointer, play defense…

His versatility and ability to “stretch the defense” especially when Thompson defending him allows his athletic teammates attack to basket much easier.

Very effective in PICK-AND-POP situations especially vs “FLAT” coverage.

Horford pop

Horford pop 2

 

After Pick-and-Pop he shot fakes and attack the rim and finishes with DUNK. Also there is option to shoot 3-point shot if defensive close-out is slow or no defensive rotation.

Horford DUNK

Horford also has great passing skills and it makes him very dangerous after PNP.

HORFORD passing abilty

His mobility and quickness + size and long arms allows him to contest opponent’s 3-point shot attempts very well! Shooting over defender’s high hands can lower opposite team’s shooting % up to 10%!

Horford contest 3

 

THE KING IS TIRED

Despite his monster performance in 1 QT we usually don’t see lot of shots like this from LEBRON. 

LEBRON tired

For Lebron and whole team these few days off are very valuable. Especially for oldest team in NBA.

There are difference of recovery time when you are rookie or NBA veteran playing every summer in NBA finals.

If Lebron plays great, Cavs play great!

SUMMARY

Despite it was hard to watch Cavs these first 2 games of this series, I still that believe we will see completely different Cleveland team in G3. Since Boston play extremely well at home in especially in PLAY-OFFS (9-0!) and only had 6 (!) TO in G2 I don’t see they can continue to play that great vs. CLEVELAND at Quicken Loans Arena. These few days off Play-Off basketball definitely goes to favour of oldest and experienced team – CAVALIERS! Lebron won’t lose 3 games in a row vs. team who doesn’t have 2 their superstar players!!!

Thanks for reading! Kristians@abouthegame.com

 

 

GAME 1. HOUSTON ROCKETS OFFENSE: HARDEN & CP3 NEEDS MORE HELP/OTHER TEAMMATES SHOULD BE MORE INVOLVED.

HOUSTON ROCKETS OFFENSE: HARDEN & CP3 NEEDS MORE HELP? OTHERS SHOULD BE MORE INVOLVED? BOTH.

Even the most effective NBA offense in play-offs (OFFRTG 110.3) and second best during regular season (OFFRTG 112.2) can slightly lose it’s effectiveness if you face probably the best team on this planet both offensively and defensively.

Despite probably the best 1-on-1 basketball player in the world James Harden great individual performance Houston Rockets were defeated 106:119 (30:29; 26:27; 24:31; 26:32) and The Beard +/- while being in the game was -7.

Harden

STATISTICS

JAMES HARDEN vs GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS in 2017./18. SEASON:

HARDEN pointi

Did Steve Kerr strategy was challenge Paul and Harden to play more 1-on-1 while at the same time not involving other teammates who are threat from the 3-point line? Not always your best player need to score more for your team to win.

Also 3-Point Shot Attempts and 3-Point Shot Attempt Rate was lower than average for the team who attempts the most 3-point shots in the NBA this season (Reg. season 3pAR 50.2% of all FGAs was 3-pointers).

HOUSTON ROCKETS 3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPTS 2017./18.

HOU 3PP22

HOUSTON ROCKETS 3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPT RATE 2017./18.

3ATR HOU

3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPTS BY OTHER PLAYERS WHEN HARDEN DIDN’T PLAY.

12:52 minutes without Harden in the game : 12 of 28 3-pointers (6/12 50%)

35:08 minutes with Harden in the game: 16 of 28 3-pointers (2/16 12.5%)…

not play Harden

Confidence and rhythm for great shooters Ariza, Gordon, Anderson and others are very important to shoot with high %.

 

HOUSTON ROCKETS OFFENSE. GAME 1.

FAST BREAK POINTS: Houston had only 3 points from fast break situations…

TRANSITION THREE-POINTERS:  Warriors did a great job of taking care of basketball, only 9 (!) turnovers. One of the most powerful weapon transition three-pointer was taken out of their Rockets arsenal. As it’s well known – bad shot selection, bad decisions, long rebounds, and mainly turnovers are things that creates fast-break situations and chance to score during offensive transition when defense not set. Defense creates offense.

GOLDEN STATE STRATEGY TO “SWITCH” (OFF-BALL/ON-BALL SCREENS): Harden and CP3 played lot of 1-on-1 ISO after on-ball screen coverage was “switch”. They both did pretty well attacking “switch” but this defensive strategy slowed down hosts offense and other teammates wasn’t involved too much(shooters’ rhythm).  Of course Houston plays lot of ISO basketball, that’s not secret but I think best players wanted to have ball in their hands almost all the time… Capela didn’t score directly after roll or receiving ball in low-post.

“Rank last in the playoffs in both player movement (5.6 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession) and ball movement (252 passes per 24 minutes of possession), according to Second Spectrum tracking. “ (NBA.com).

HARDEN vs CURRY ISO (and vice-versa)… HARDEN vs LOONEY.  Since Warriors used to switch most of the pick-and-rolls Houston created switch where Harden can play against less physical defender such as Curry.  The Beard did a great job attacking Curry.

HOU HARDEN PNR

Because of CP3 and Harden control the ball in their hands all the time, constantly attack Warriors defenders after switch, it affected their defense because of fatigue, especially Harden’s. Not only Harden attacked to Curry but also vice-versa in the opposite end of floor. Curry scored few points while Harden played “defense” against him.

BAD Defense Harden

 

HIGH PERCENTAGE SHOTS FOR ROCKETS (GAME 1).

1. TRANSITION THREE-POINTERS AND LAY-UPS. Houston needs more transition three-point shots.

HOUSTON transition shots 3

2. ISO. CP3 and HARDEN ATTACKS AFTER PICK-AND-ROLL – CREATES SHOT FOR THEMSELVES (vs Looney, vs Curry).

 ISO (SWITCH) vs Looney = Slam dunk.

Harden attack DUNK

ISO (SWITCH) vs Curry = step-back 3

ISO HArden vs CUrry Step-back3

ISO (SWITCH) vs Curry = step-back mid-range shot. 2 points.

ISO Harden step-back 2

3. 1vs1 DRIVE + ALLEY-OOP to CAPELA or 1vs1 DRIVE-KICK for 3-POINT SHOT. Ball-handlers creates shot for teammates.

HARDEN Alley-Oop to Capela = very high % shot near the basket. ISO vs Curry (SWITCH)

Harden ISO to CAPELA vs CURRY

HARDEN Alley-Oop to Capela = very high % shot near the basket. Transition. Houston needs more easy baskets like this!

Transition to CAPELA

CP3 attack immediately after SWITCH and finds an open teammate in the corner. Ariza = 3 points.

CP3 to corner immediately attack

 

LOW PERCENTAGE SHOTS FOR ROCKETS (GAME 1).

1. BAD MID-RANGE SHOTS (G1 Pick-and-roll to ISO situations). Houston offense is built around high% shots.

Bad midrange

2. ANY SHOT in 1vs1 SITUATION WHEN TO CREATE SHOT in ISO SITUATION LASTS TOO LONG AND THERE ARE 3 or LESS SECONDS LEFT ON SHOT CLOCK.

Last second 1vs1

3. ANY SHOT when after ISO after pick-and-roll SWITCH when players can’t create their own shot or attack to defender with dribble penetration and in the last moment when 5 or less seconds left on the shot clock ball is passed to teammate who needs to make a play within few seconds. (Most of the time shoot three-pointer over defenders’ high hands or after shot fake drive to the basket in hope to score).

PNR last second to CP3

This offense definitely isn’t something that Rockets need. Not always Harden or CP3 were able to create great shot for themselves and after passing the ball in the last moment to teammates put lot of pressure for them to make a play.

PNR long Ariza

 

Thanks for reading! Kristians @ abouthegame.com

 

 

BOSTON CELTICS USE SIZE, STRENGTH AND SPEED ADVANTAGE TO OVERTAKE 76ERS IN GAME 5

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First of all don’t get me wrong – Philadelphia 76ers is one of the best defensive teams in NBA:

  • Defensive rating: 102.0 (3rd)
  • Opponent points in Paint: 41.6 (1st)
  • Defensive Rebounds: 35.5 (1st)
  • Opponent FG%: 43.4% (1st)
  • Opponent 3Pt%: 34.2% (2nd)

But it doesn’t mean they don’t have weaknesses, every team has. They play very tough and they are able to switch lot of off-ball and on-ball screens because of height and physical abilities, similar to Boston Celtics.

In play-off games it’s all about match-ups and making adjustments. If there are weaknesses greatest basketball minds will find it, especially if you play against one team more times in a row.

 

GAME 5: STATISTICS

Why this game was different for Boston Celtics compare to other games this season and play-offs? Huge amount of FOULS against BOSTON,  huge amount of FREE-THROW ATTEMPTS and MUCH LOWER than AVERAGE THREE-POINT SHOTS ATTEMPTED by CELTICS.

FOULS

Fouls

FREE-THROW ATTEMPTS

FTTT

 

3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPT RATE (% of FGAs that are 3-Pt FGAs)3PT attempts

 

BOSTON CELTICS GAME PLAN FOR GAME 5: USE SIZE, STRENGHT AND SPEED ADVANTAGE TO OVERTAKE 76ERS 

 

  • Attack to the weak points of Philadelphia 76ers defense = JJ Redick 1vs1+post, McConnell post.
  • Create and attack size mismatches. (pick-and-roll/Off-ball screens) Almost all Boston players can play in post effectively.
  • Looking for post-ups before defense is set. Especially offensive transition situations.
  • Create high % shots after getting ball in the low post or attacking defense before it is set = free-throws, high% 2-point shots close to the basket (also shots after getting rebounds if post play is not successful) and open three-point shots when the ball is passed out of low post area.

 

TRANSITION. POST UP.

Boston took advantage of their 2, 3 and 4 position player’s ability to play effective in post up situations or attack immediately using the dribble especially when 76ers defense wasn’t set yet. Tatum vs McConnel, Smart vs Redick, Smart vs Belinelli, Horford vs McConnell, Brown vs Redick and other situations.

 

Transition Post up1

 

SMART/HORFORD vs JJ REDICK. Transition. Use of strength advantage.

Smart vs Redick

Transition Smart vs Redick

Horford vs Redick

TATUM vs McCONNELL attack with dribble in transition

Tatums vs Mcconnel drive transition

BROWN vs McCONNELL. Embiid has to help leaving Baynes open in the corner. Saric can’t rotate on time even close-out with high-hands was the best he can do in this situation – 3 points. The point is… Everything starts with BROWN using his size and strenght vs shorter McCONNELL in the low post.

Transition Post up 2

Transition Post up 3

Brown post up and pass

 

TRANSITION PLAYS or SET-PLAYS

After coming off double staggered screen Tatum and Smart had a great position to use their size and speed advantage immediately by driving to basket or shooting mid-range shot.

Second option is to receive the ball in the low post area.

Staggered play 3

TATUM vs McCONNELL

Tatum vs McCollumm set play

SECOND OPTION if can’t attack immediately coming off double staggered screen = ball movement + post-up.

Staggered play1

Staggered play 2

SMART vs BELINELLI

Smart vs Belinelli set play

 

PICK-AND-ROLL: ATTACK to “switch” (Flat + Switch)

Against FLAT+Switch pick-and-roll strategy Baynes has huge advantage over McConnell under the basket and McConnell has no chance to get the rebound. Trying to use speed advantage (Tatum vs Embiid and Rozier vs Embiid) wasn’t too effective this game instead they should look more inside and pass to Horford vs Redick or Baynes vs McConnell and other size mismatch situations (Big vs Small).

HIGH PICK-AND-ROLL. BAYNES vs McCONNELL. REBOUND + DUNK.

Flat Switch 1

Flat Switch 2

FLAT Switch

 

PLAY SMART –  ATTACK OPPONENTS’ WEAKNESSES!

Thanks for reading! :)) Coach Kristians

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS OFFENSIVE GAME PLAN FOR LAST 3 MINUTES G3 (James&Korver).

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS OFFENSIVE GAME PLAN FOR LAST 3 MINUTES G3.

PRINCIPLE: GIVE THE BALL TO THE BEST PLAYER!

Usually teams don’t run complicated set plays but outcome of the end-game is decided by best player’s ability to play 1vs1 or attacking after pick-and-roll (or pop) situations effectively or smart coaches decisions after the time-out.

Coach Tyronn Lue strategy was to play 5 PICK-AND-POP in a row where KORVER SETS THE SCREEN TO LEBRON and after screen POPS to behind three-point line adding pressure to defense (as it is well known that Korver is one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA).

Traditionally on-ball screen is set by BIG (4 or 5) for PG which usually is the best ball-handler but in recent years NBA players skill development has reached level where inside players can play like guards and vice-versa.

PICK-AND-POP = SWITCH

Toronto Raptors best defender rookie OG Anunoby:

“When Anunoby marked James, the Cavaliers scored 1.09 points per possession.”

“And the real key is this: When any other player on the Raptors marked James, the clip the Cavaliers’ offense scored at ballooned to 1.38 points per possession.”

“In other words: If that sample is any indication, Anunoby is the best the Raptors have.”

Anunoby has already proved he is an elite defender against drives. In fact, opponents scored only 0.83 points per direct drive against him in the regular season, which tied for the third-lowest rate among all players who defended at least 200 drives.”

“Pretty clearly, that’s a necessary component to at least slowing down James, who scored the fourth-most points per direct drive (1.19) in the league among those with at least 200 such plays, and was the most efficient among anyone with at least 500 drives.”

(http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/23368049/og-anunoby-toronto-raptors-best-shot-containing-cleveland-cavaliers-lebron-james).

 

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Toronto Raptors answer was SWITCH these Pick-and-pop situations since both James as a ball-handler and Korver as screener puts lot of pressure to defenders.

OG Anunoby was forced to switch… so Lebron had a chance to attack C.J. Miles which is the player who is not that effective defending Lebron’s drives to the basket.

Untitled2

Since every time James came off the screen to the left side of the floor (left hand), hard drive to the left side (dunk/fade-away/pass/draw foul) + adding 3 shooters on perimeter (J.R. Smith/Kevin Love/Kyle Korver) = hard to stop since Lebron is one of the best passers in the game.

LEBRON JAMES & KYLE KORVER ALL PICK-AND-POP (last 3 minutes G3)

 

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Turnover. Korver didn’t catch Lebron’s pass.

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Hard drive. Foul (2+1)

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Fade-away (2 points). Defender gives Lebron space to shoot and protects against drive.

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Three-point shot.

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Screen+re-screen. Hard drive. 2 free-throws.

 

PRINCIPLES

  • BALL TO THE BEST PLAYERS (1vs1 or attack after PNR/drive-kick).
  • ATTACK THE WEAKEST DEFENDER (force the ”switch/attack the ”switch”).
  • SET THE SCREEN TO GET OPEN (Korver)/put pressure on defense especially if ball-handler is Lebron James.
  • SCREEN ANGLE is IMPORTANT (let the defense work hard).
  • HARD DRIVE (attack the switch) + SHOOTERS SPREADING THE FLOOR on strong-side = hard to guard!

 

Thanks for reading, Kristians@abouthegame.com