NBA Roundtable

First Round Thoughts

In 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Boston vs Miami

Wade To Point Guard

Miami is getting absolutely nothing out of their point guards and they are getting man-handled by a bigger stronger tougher Boston team down in the paint.

Miami should counter this by going big with Dwyane Wade at the point alongside Quentin Richardson and Dorell Wright on the wings. Try to use their size on the perimeter to limit penetration, to make passes more difficult, and to apply aggressive double teams where necessary.

Miami should also use James Jones as the main backup wing to limit their need for a point guard in different lineups.

Wade Gave Up

Dwyane Wade rolled over in game two.

He gave up on his team, he quit on them.

Wade sunk too far into the background for a player as dominant as he is … and he did when the game was close late in the first and early in the second. With his team on the ropes, he didn’t respond with aggressiveness and energy, he responded with passive play.

Tony Allen + Glen Davis

These two players have been big difference makers for Boston.

Tony Allen has played outstanding defense against Wade + has caused Miami problems with his size and strength when he has played the point. Glen Davis has given the Celtics big men some much needed energy and hustle. His rebounding, defense, and aggressive play around the rim has made a big difference.

Link: Interesting stats on the seriesclick here

8. The Celtics have outscored the Heat by 53 points in the 72 minutes that Glen Davis has been on the court in this series. That is the largest plus-minus differential for any player in the 2010 postseason. In the 72 minutes that Davis has not played, Boston has been outscored by 13 points.

Dallas vs San Antonio

No Barea

The Mavericks need to stop playing JJ Barea. He is weak defensive point guard who creates opportunities for the Spurs’ Tony Parker to attack.

Especially when he is on the court alongside Dirk Nowitzki … although, the Spurs haven’t attacked that combination often enough in the pick and roll.

Dallas should be playing Rodrigue Beaubois, a point guard with excellent athleticism + very good defensive ability. Someone who can contest Parker’s dribble penetration to a greater degree.

Post Butler

When Caron Butler is at the off guard position, the Mavericks should post him up regularly.

The Spurs are not comfortable defending his physical play down in the paint. Neither of their two guards (Manu/Hill) are able to defend Butler well enough.

When Dallas attacks this mismatch, they draw fouls on the Spurs and get to the foul line. They also score easy baskets around the rim and allow Butler to get into rhythm offensively.

In contrast, what they’re doing most of the time is trying to get Butler to beat Ginobili off the dribble. That is playing to Manu’s defensive strengths instead of his weaknesses. Butler needs to attack more intelligently.

Marion + Haywood

This big man combination caused the Spurs huge problems when Duncan was off the court in the game two.

Haywood’s length and shot blocking in combination with Marion’s speed and quickness at the four made it extremely difficult for San Antonio to get and dribble penetration and/or interior shot attempts. It forced them to stay out on the perimeter and to take contested jump shots.

This is a game changing defensive combination for the Mavericks and it should be used more often.

Down 1-3

It’s hard to picture this Spurs team losing three straight games to the Mavericks.

Particularly given Carlisle’s rotation decisions to date in the series. I would be more optimistic of the Mavs chances otherwise.

Spurs Lousy Lineup

Parker + Hill + Mason Jr + Bonner + Blair

That lineup was used against Marion, Haywood and the three guards. Obviously, they were beaten handedly.

No Beaubois in Fourth Quarter

No Beaubois for the first 9/10 minutes of the fourth quarter of game six after he helped lead the Mavericks comeback from 20 points down. Unbelievable.

This decision cost the Mavericks a true shot at winning this game.

Phoenix vs Portland

Hill/Dudley on Andre Miller

I thought Alvin Gentry made a great adjustment in game two to put Grant Hill on Andre Miller and to have Dudley play Miller while Hill rested.

It stopped Miller’s quality isolation play + post ups and limited the effects of both his playmaking and scoring. The Blazers offense was out of sync for the rest of the game.

This adjustment, this matchup, could turn the series into a comfortable Suns victory instead of the dogfight it was shaping up to be.

Link — More on the Suns and Blazers — click here

Brandon Roy Is Back

Three Brandon Roy’s — (1) ineffective (2) good role player impact (3) All-Star or better impact

If the Blazers get #1 or #2, they’ll likely still lose this series.

If Portland gets #3, then I think the series shifts back in their favour.

Los Angeles vs Oklahoma

Sefolosha Not Green

Thabo Sefolosha is one of the best Kobe-stoppers in the league. He has been very effective against Bryant in this series and that has been a huge reason why Oklahoma has been so good defensively against the Lakers.

Please stop benching Sefolosha in the fourth quarter to put Jeff Green on him. Leave Sefolosha in there.

Green + Harden

These two guys need to be more productive offensively for Oklahoma to win.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook need some help from someone in their supporting cast to get this done.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant isn’t attacking Artest intelligently enough. He needs to stop looking for clearouts or high post play. Stop trying to body up with Artest because that plays to Ron’s defensive strengths.

Durant needs to move him around the court and run him through screens. Take advantage of his speed and then his length on catch and shoot opportunities. The Thunder’s bigs also need to be more active on those screens when the Lakers big shows up top to deny Durant the pass. They can get easy hoops close to the rim if they cut more aggressively.

Pau Gasol + Andrew Bynum

The more often these guys touch the ball + the more shots they get the easier the Lakers win. It’s that simple.

The Lakers are making this difficult on themselves and it’s Kobe’s selfish offensive play that is leading the way.

Durant’s Defense Against Kobe

Kevin Durant’s defense against Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter of game three was spectacular. Hugely impressive from display from Durant and further evidence that Durant’s defensive game is going to continue to improve over the next year and two. Potentially, an All-League Defensive player.

The Thunder were looking shaky until Brooks switched Durant onto Bryant. They weren’t in control of that game but this adjustment completely took the Lakers out of their comfort zone and gave Oklahoma a few minutes to build a good lead … and that lead was the difference between the two sides. Excellent maneuver from Brooks.

Four Out Of Five

After losing the first two games, Oklahoma would need to win 4 out of 5 to knock the Lakers out. I don’t see that happening.

I think the Thunder can turn individual games into a dogfight against the Lakers and they can win a couple of them (read: close fourth quarter contests where either team has a comparable chance of winning) … and if things go great, they may just manage to pull out a series victory. But that is four games out of seven and Oklahoma would still be a considerable underdog at that.

Oklahoma has some good matchup advantages but those advantages are not strong enough to get them four wins out of five against a team of LA’s caliber.

Kobe On Westbrook

I like Phil Jackson putting Kobe Bryant on Russell Westbrook. That will slow him down in the halfcourt offense + put more pressure on Durant’s scoring for OKC’s halfcourt offense.

Scott Brooks should bring James Harden into the game … he needs a two guard that can punish Derek Fisher. An offensive threat.

Game Six

Big Lineup by OKC

Scott Brooks made an adjustment midway through the first quarter by going with two big men, Durant and Green on the wings with Westbrook at the point.

This was to counteract Kobe Bryant’s defensive presence on Westbrook and to force Fisher to guard one of their 6 foot 9 wing players. Fisher took Green and was abused in the post forcing into a change.

Phil Jackson responded by keeping Kobe on Westbrook but bringing on Odom for Fisher to defend Green.

That is a good move but I think they should have gone with Luke Walton instead … Walton would have done a better job allowing LA to run their offense as normal. The floor is going to get a lot smaller with Odom in there at the three.

A lot of post ups = a lot of scrambling double teams = either an increased number of turnovers or an increased number of forced perimeter shots against the clock.

Transition Defense

The Lakers transition D has looked suspect since they went with the big lineup

Offensive Rhythm

The Lakers are out of their element … they haven’t been able to get back in line despite OKC shifting back to a normal lineup.

Second Quarter

I like Phil Jackson coming back with Bynum to start the second quarter. They Lakers need his physical presence in the paint right now. Oklahoma have been the more physical team over the past few minutes … I like Bynum here, I also like Bynum’s shot blocking to try and slow down OKC’s attempts into the paint.

I  like Luke Walton coming in too. Good offensive facilitator, he’ll help them get their rhythm back.

Farmar on Westbrook

Farmar regularly struggles against big physical point guards … good opportunity for Westbrook here.

… Westbrook proceeded to make the next three plays, helping to create three easy shooting opportunities.

Artest on Durant

Artest has done an excellent job on Durant in this series.

Durant is 1-8 from the field tonight and only 38-107 over the six games so far. As a result, Durant is only posting a true shooting percentage of 49.44% despite earning almost 10 free throws per game. Great job by Artest.

I didn’t think Artest would be this effective against Durant.

Big Lineup

Oklahoma have switched back to their big lineup to finish the second quarter. The Lakers have responded by moving Kobe onto Green and letting Fisher take Westbrook.

I would still be interested to see Luke Walton in this lineup instead of Fisher.

Lakers later go back to Shannon Brown to defend Russell Westbrook instead of Fisher.


I thought Oklahoma did well to come back into it after a slow start.

Nobody really has control of the game at this point. Neither team executing all that well offensively. Both a little out of sorts.

It’s going to a be a big third quarter. See who can settle down and get the shots that they want to get.

Quick Start

Oklahoma go on a 5-0 run in the first 75 seconds and force Phil Jackson into a quick timeout.

Over the next three-four minutes, Oklahoma out-did the Lakers for energy + transition offense allowing them to take momentum. LA hung on by a couple of Kobe buckets. Game is swinging in OKC’s favour though.

The Lakers need to slow the game down here and make some baskets. Need to take away Oklahoma’s easy hoops, especially their transition baskets.

I would like to see Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic or Luke Walton take Derek Fisher’s place right now.

Kobe’s Roar

Kudos to Kobe Bryant. He is having a huge third quarter and is keeping LA in the game. 16 points in the quarter.

The Lakers need to get someone else going over the next few minutes … otherwise Kobe’s supporting cast are going be cold down the stretch in the fourth. Not enough touches, shots or baskets. No rhythm.

I like Phil giving the rest of the team a few minutes late in the quarter to build some rhythm with Kobe on the bench + to keep Kobe fresh for the fourth.

No Pau or Bynum Offensively

The Lakers haven’t been able to get Gasol + Bynum going tonight. Only 15 points on 14 shot attempts combined.

Pau Gasol has done an excellent job on the backboards though with 16 rebounds.

Also, Bynum hasn’t looked well physically tonight. His movement is laboured.

No Westbrook

Russell Westbrook doesn’t have a made basket since the first quarter.

No Westbrook + no Durant (3-19 from the field but 12-15 from the line) = horrible half-court offense

Oklahoma are lucky to be in this game. They’re going to need their two stars to step up in the fourth quarter though.

Kobe Sits

Phil Jackson kept Kobe Bryant on the bench for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. The unit he had in there were playing well offensively, passing and moving, and looked more cohesive offensively than the Lakers had looked all night. Combine that with Oklahoma’s struggles and they were able to maintain the lead.

Good decision to stick with this unit for as long as possible.

First sign of trouble, though, and you have to go back to Kobe. Westbrook just nailed a three and forced a timeout. Phil could go back to Kobe now or wait another possession or two to see if Oklahoma can get another basket before making his decision.

Finishing Time

Phil went back to Pau Gasol + Kobe Bryant at that dead ball.

  • Both teams trade baskets over the next minute.
  • Durant and Westbrook hit consecutive baskets to cut the lead to two
  • Westbrook wins the loose ball, offensive rebound, takes it to the rim and gets the three point play. Oklahoma lead!
  • Kobe Bryant had a clearout against Durant on the right baseline/wing, Durant didn’t bite on the fake, Durant stuck with him on the dribble drive, Kobe resorted to a post up, Durant reached just before the shot and didn’t contest it well but Kobe wasn’t in good rhythm (due to Durant’s earlier defense on the possession) and missed the shot. I like this matchup for Oklahoma.
  • Three minutes to play …
  • Gasol turns it over for the second time in the last five minutes. First was off the ball (illegal screen?), second time he was stripped. Oklahoma take a timeout.
  • Durant drives from the top of the key, weaves through traffic, hits the layup
  • Kobe left wing, screen and roll, Kobe 22 footer over Durant’s contest, hits it!
  • Nick Collison misses the layup (blocked by Odom) on the offensive rebound (Westbrook air balled jumper) … Kobe misses a leaning 18 foot jumper on the pick and roll, offensive rebound, Artest takes a decent look (had space but hesitated and was fairly closed down by the shot) from three point range, misses (Kobe wanted the ball + is upset) … Oklahoma brick a forced shot (Westbrook), Odom rebounds.
  • OKC lead 94-93
  • Gasol misses in the paint, Westbrook rebound
  • Durant at the FT line, doubled, nice pass to Westbrook on the right hand side of the baseline, Westbrook misses the 15 footer, rebound LA … no timeout … Kobe takes it upcourt, clears out the floor, drives on Westbrook, pull up jumper from 17 feet, misses, Collison (Ibaka?) with a weak box-out, Gasol offensive rebound and tap in! Lakers lead
  • Lakers lead 95-94
  • 0.5 seconds … catch and shoot right corner from Westbrook, miss.

Durant’s Inefficiency Lost Series

Kevin Durant finished 43-123 from the field including 10-35 from three point range and was 54-62 from the FT line.

He posted a true shooting percentage of  49.9% … and that was only because Durant was so good at getting to the line and hitting at a high clip when he was there.

If Durant had of scored more efficiently against Artest, at a good-to-very good clip (TS% of 55-57%), I think Oklahoma would have won this series.

Note: Durant had a true shooting percentage of 60.7% for the season.

Cleveland vs Chicago

Game Three

A perfect storm for Chicago.

Kirk Hinrich went for 27 points on 9-12 shooting. Rose was magnificent with 31 points on 50% shooting. Luol Deng added another 20 points. Joakim Noah threw in another 15 rebounds and 5 assists.

All this combined with a very poor performance from Cleveland and Chicago managed to pull out a win.

No JJ Hickson

This is the important lesson from this season. JJ Hickson has played a total of 45 seconds in three games.

The Bulls have (1) Derrick Rose – an excellent penetrator and the Bulls best scoring option (2) Chicago and Rose in particular use a lot of pick and rolls (3) a dangerous transition team.

JJ Hickson is the Cavs second best pick and roll defender and second best transition defender amongst their big men. Despite this, Hickson hasn’t been able to get off the bench.

This is a worrying sign for Cavs fans going forward because Hickson could be a big help against Boston in the next round and possibly Orlando in the expected Conference Finals.

Antawn Jamison

Antawn Jamison is a very poor defender and should not be considered a solution to any defensive problem.

Starting Lineup

Mo Williams + Anthony Parker + LeBron James + Antawn Jamison + Shaquille O’Neal

This lineup contains only one high quality defensive player – LeBron James, The rest of the lineup offers little in the way of defensive contributions and combine together to make serious defensive flaws.

Mo Williams is a poor defender at the point. Parker is a mediocre defender. Jamison is a very poor all-round defensive player. Shaquille O’Neal is a quality interior defender around the rim but a very poor defender whenever he is taken away from the rim.

These players combine to make Cleveland hugely vulnerable to pick and roll play [(1) dribble penetration (2) bigs who cut to the rim and/or pop out for a jumper (3) ball movement created by the drive and kick] and from transition play. This allows ball-handling guards to have a huge impact offensively against them.

Players of note — Derrick Rose … but more importantly Rajon Rondo and the Orlando Magic have Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter.

Denver vs Utah

Down 1-3

Denver is the team best positioned to make a comeback from their series deficit due to their talent levels + matchup advantages.

They are the most likely of the remaining teams to win three straight games … or in OKC’s case to win four out of five.

Joey Graham — final six minutes

You cannot have Joey Graham out there at power forward matched up against Paul Millsap in the final six minutes of an elimination game on the road.

It is pure insanity … horrific lineup/matchup choice by the coach.

Also, the two technicals in the final six minutes speaks very badly over the coach’s command of his team.

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony has been a major disappointment in this series. He has forced way too many shots and ruined too many possessions with his ball-hogging. The decision-makings is … very poor.

Melo has had an excellent matchup against Utah’s wings. Very disappointing to see him do so little with it (outside of game one — 41.5% FG% since then). I was expecting more from him.

Milwaukee vs Atlanta

I haven’t been watching this series

How in the world have Milwaukee won three games against Atlanta?

  • Streaky shooting and scoring ability + sub-par rebounding + good defense … seriously?
  • Good matchup at the point but Jennings is too inefficient to truly punish a team with his scoring + neutralizes Atlanta’s Josh Smith at the four with Mbah a Moute?
  • The rest of the Bucks’ offense comes are perimeter jump shooters who rely on others to create their shot attempts. How is that offense causing so much trouble for the Hawks?
  • A 33-35 win caliber team? That is enough to beat a team like Atlanta?

Atlanta are underachieving badly.

Regardless of what happens in the next two games (and I expect Atlanta to win those two games), congratulations to the Bucks. They have done a stellar job to win

  1. Dave,

    Miami vs Boston

    Miami’s problems are not rooted in the play of Arroyo and Chalmers, or D-Wade.

    When the Heat played their best basketball of the season it was WITHOUT Jermaine O’Neal in their line-up.

    If the Heat simply removed him from their rotation they would beat the Celtics this evening, in Game 3.

    Since a straight-up “removal” is unlikely, however … given O’Neal’s prickly pesonality … it would be more plausible for Miami to go with a rotation that looks like this:

    Arroyo + Wade + Richardson + Beasley + Anthony

    Chalmers and Wright and Haslem and O’Neal [with a short leash for bad play]

    Cook and Jones and Magloire


    As difficult as it may be to imagine … given the high level player JO was at one time with the Pacers … Beasley, Anthony, Haslem and Magloire are ALL better Big Men than O’Neal is, today, when they play within their limited roles [ie. something which JO struggles to do] and match-up much better with the likes of Garnett, Perkins, Wallace and Davis.


    re: the perception of D-Wade giving up in Game 2

    IMO … you completely mis-read his actions, in this instance.

    Flash knows all too well that he HAS to rely on his teammates to score points, by hitting the open shots they get, largely by playing off his efforts, if the Heat are going to have any chance of beating Boston.

    IMO, what he did very well in Game 2 was control his anger and continue to trust his teammates even though it was one of those games where they were just not making their shots against a highly motivated opponent.

    The easiest thing for him to have done was to take over the scoring for Miami and, by going off for 45 pts, kept the Heat in the game by himself … despite losing in the end.

    All this would have done is make it even more difficult for Miami to come back for Game 3 and win out-right … which is what might just happen this evening with a group of invigorated teammates, in support of D-Wade’s constant effort.

    If Coach Spoelstra is in-tune enough to limit O’Neal’s minutes tonight, if would no surprise at all t see Miami give Boston a tremendous game this evening.

  2. Hey Khandor,

    I agree that Jermaine O’Neal’s play has been a huge problem but I disagree that it is Jermaine not accepting a more limited role. He is being asked to create offensively by his coaches and his teammates. He is not breaking plays out there. He is being given the ball and being asked to create his own shot.

    Which is a recipe for disaster … especially against a marquee post defender like Kendrick Perkins … and it is hurting Miami tremendously. However, it is not a problem with O’Neal’s mentality. It is a problem with coaching + other teammates not stepping up offensively (Beasley and the point guards) which is forcing the ball into O’Neal in the post.

    They are asking Jermaine to do things he is not able to do.


    On Wade, I agree with you on his performance in the second half (when the game was out of hand) but I disagree overall … I thought he mailed it in during the first half and specifically in the early + mid parts of the second quarter (when the game was in the balance + starting to get out of hand).

    Wade was the first Miami Heat player to give up on that game and the rest of the team followed his lead.

    He was resigned to losing and was simply going through the motions.

  3. Dave,

    re: O’Neal’s poor play

    I don’t think it’s really due to his mentality, either.

    I think it’s due to his overall lack of skill, at this stage of his career, in comparison with the player he once was with the Pacers.

    His legs are gone.
    His shot is gone.
    His face-up game is erratic, at-best.

    He struggles on defense … with the exception of still being able to draw a charge and pulling down his fair of rebounds.

    The benefit of playing Anthony and Magloire is that neither player THINKS of himself as a jump-shooter who can keep his place in the league as a “scorer”.

    The benefit of playing Beasley is his upside as a mid-range scorer.

    The benefit of playing Haslem is that he is now a flat-out better player than O’Neal.

    Against a high end team O’Neal needs to sit.


    re: Wade’s last game

    We will need to agree to disagree. 🙂

  4. Dave,

    What you should be seeing in tonight’s Game 3 … which is now at the half-way mark, with Miami leading 49-48 … is that whenever the Heat use the 5-man unit of:

    Chalmers + Wade + Wright + Haslem + Anthony

    … they are every bit as good as the Celtics’ 1st unit.

    As long as Coach Spoelstra can use different combinations of Arroyo, Richardson, Beasley and, possibly, Magloire to get to their “Best 5” in the last 6 minutes of the 4th quarter with the score +/- 4 points then Miami has an excellent shot to win every game they play at home during this post-season … regardless who the opponent might be.

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