March 20, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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There is no bigger move than going small in these NBA playoffs

There is no bigger move than going small in these NBA playoffs

The Raptors always knew they would go short in their second round series against the Celtics — it was only a matter of time. That’s why Said Nick Nurse Athletics Blake Murphy Following Toronto’s 125-122 double – over victory in Game 6 on Wednesday: I’ve been talking about doing this for a long time and knowing about it, and we didn’t find it or pull the trigger until the other night. ”

The nurse eventually changed Pascal Siacom to 4 and OG Anunobi to 5 with 8:22 in the fourth quarter, then drove that lineup the rest of the way. The short-ball lineup immediately showed its value. Siacom and Anunobi, along with Kyle Lori, Fred Vanville and Norman Powell, made the first eight separate closeouts for the defense, forcing the Celtics to poke the ball around the court so they could not escape a shot-clock violation:

Boston Drive launches four perimeter players who can shoot and pass (Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jalen Brown, and Jason Tatum) and the undersized mobile big man (Daniel Theses). It is almost impossible to guard in game-end situations when they are able to extend the defense and isolate a slow defender at the 3-point line. The result is that two of Toronto’s most iconic traditional big men (Mark Gasol and Serge Ibaka) are an ace Boston Back pocket in this series with the game on the line.

The decisive play came in the Celtics Game 2 victory, with Kemba calling for multiple screens until Ibaka turned himself in. Then he worked back One of the most famous plays His legendary NCAA career. The basketball version of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs is:

Gasoline was even worse in the final seconds of Game 3. This sequence is not the end of the series One of the greatest inbound plays in NBA history, Practically a big abuse:

Two big men are fish that are not in the water. The farther they went from the basket, the less valuable their size became. The only adjustment Toronto can make is getting them off the ground and playing smaller, more mobile defenders. But even the nurse, one of the most aggressive coaches in the NBA in terms of tactics and lineup changes, found it very difficult to do.

Gasol and Ibaka are not only two of his most trusted veterans, they are all-round players rather than players in their place. Shifting Anunobi and Siacom‌ to one position puts another guard on the floor, a problem that the nurse uses only seven-man rotation. Powell, who has a long history of ups and downs in Toronto, is a 6-foot-3 guard, capable of doing only two things more than raptor centers: shoot 3s and defend the 3-point line.

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But at a certain point in the playoffs, they are only important. Powell came in heavily in Game 6 with 23 points in a 6-of-11 shooting. He must be good for the Raptors to win Game 7 on Friday.

Even Charles Barclay, who spent the last decade This living The Simpsons Competition On national TV, being pushed for a more small ball. Halfway through the Lakers-Rockets’ Game 3 he told TNT: “They have to get Javel McGee out because he can’t guard anyone. If you start him, the rockets are already in their system. Because every time James Harden goes into the basket, Javale falls, and his man gets a wide-open shot. ”

Barclay showed a play when McGee turned 6-foot-3 Eric Gordon on him and did not try to attack him: “There is no reason for a 7-footer to be there if he does not dominate the boards and not score every. Time. Go back and show one of those plays. Javale had Gordon on him. And he goes and stands there. It is useless. I did not understand it. ”

Houston relinquishes center position in mid-season, Trades Clint Capella for Robert Covington. The idea is to extend the floor over the offense and maintain a 3-point line over the defense to overcome the presence of large paint on both ends of the floor. That strategy is cryptonite for defensive-minded big men like McGee and Thunder’s Steven Adams, who can’t defend on the perimeter or score on small players on the inside. As Barkley explained, there was little reason for them to be on the ground in those matches.

Billy Donovan was never caught in the first round series of the Thunder against the Rockets. Despite that group having a terrible net rating of minus-38.5 in 74 minutes, he put seven games in the starting lineup. A group of five second- or less influential five people who played more than 50 minutes in the entire playoffs had a net rating of minus -17.6.

The worst thing is that Donovan is stuck with them on his bench on better options. His short-ball line-up with three point guards (Chris Paul, Dennis Schroeder, and Shay Gilgius-Alexander), defensive stopper (Lugentz Dart), and shooter (Danilo Gallinari) had a plus-34.8 net rating in 14 minutes. . He walked away from them even after they won Game 3 in OT and closed Game 4.

While Adams had productivity in the series (10.1 points in 59.6 percent shooting and 11.6 rebounds per game), they were ultimately the empty numbers to be seen by his coach. Thunder was killed while he was on the ground (minus -12.0 in 210 minutes) and also played racquets when he was off (minus -10 in 131 minutes.).

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Donovan made no mistake against Lakers coach Frank Vogel Houston. He played McGee and Howard together for 24 minutes in Game 1 defeat, then reduced their playing time to 15 minutes in games 2 and 3 and did not play them in Game 4 wins.

Traditional big men are valued for their protection and their ability to protect the edge. The regular season is still the same. The only reason to play them in the post season is what they can do about the offense.

Traditional knowledge must change. Boston has no numbers. 1 defensive rating (102.7) in the playoffs despite starting between this (6-foot-8 and 245 pounds). Houston is not behind them. 4 (105.7) with PJ Tucker in the middle (6-foot-5 and 245 lbs). Small-ball teams have two key advantages over defense. Celtics and rockets do not accept space around the perimeter and they rotate quickly when hit. No one is going into the open 3 cell against the likes of Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell.

See how Mitchell performed against the small and fast Houston defense in last season’s playoffs compared to the big and slow Denver defense built around Nicola Jokic. Mitchell was much better last season. But this big difference cannot be explained:

Mitchell in the playoffs

Michelle Playoffs Points FG% Will help
Michelle Playoffs Points FG% Will help
Denver 2020 36.3 52.9 4.9
Houston 2019 21.4 32.1 3.2

Not only poor defense centers like Jokik can sustain. Even the best interior defenders are valuable only in today’s playoffs. Rudy Gobert was named Defensive Player of the Year twice and First-Team All-Defensive Team four times, and Utah still ranks 12th out of 16 teams in the playoffs. Poor matchup for Denver Gobert, but that’s definitely the point. The modern NBA offense of attacking the 3-point line is unmatched by any traditional big man.

The difference between Jokik and Gobert is that the primary choice on the offense still does not need to be played on defense to be worthwhile. Both centers lit up for defense in the first round. But at least the former is doing himself some tormenting. The Warriors and Rockets do not bench Steve Curry and James Hardon despite their defensive issues. They built defenses to protect their stars, This is the biggest challenge for the Nuggets to move forward.

Draymond Green, who has played many centers on the ground over the last half decade, sums it up best:

The dangerous part for mini-ball centers is that the same logic eventually applies to them. The Celtics picked up 76 Cers and took the lead as a small team against the Raptors, now the Raptors are back even smaller against the Celtics.

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“Small” is a relative term, however. Anunobi (6-feet -7 and 232 pounds) is as big as theses. That’s one reason he’s such an ingenious player He has the size and skill to play wing on offense to play center on defense. While this is very mobile for a big man, he is still not as good as a perimeter defender like a wing. Toronto won 8-0 when they went short at the end of the first half in Game 6. All the points came from their guards, dotting on this and creating open shots:

The Raptors, despite playing from the back of the entire series, still have high hopes for Game 7. The series has a net rating of plus -9.4 in 27 minutes, with Anunobi and Siacom and gasoline and Ibaca.

Brad Stevens must now decide whether to lower and match the Raptors in Game 7. He can move Brown and Tatum to one position so they can change any pick-and-rolls the Raptors run and place a reserve perimeter player (either Semi Ozeli or Broad Wanamaker on Powell).

Theses have to stay on the ground with his offense. The Celtics do not run plays for him, which means he needs to score with spot-up jumpers and power, cutting the ball, catching labs and crashing dangerous glass. It worked well in Game 6 when he had 18 points in 9-of-11 shooting, including several heavy baskets in the second overtime:

After these dunks the nurse can blink and put back the gasoline or ibaka. Donovan is almost certain. But the nurse clung to his guns knowing that he could not win in this scenario with his big men.

The first two rounds of the 2020 playoffs should teach every NBA coach an important lesson. A big player who can’t use his size to score on small defenders is so effective. The Celtics start Game 7 as a small team. But will they end it that way?