See the title. And to get you pumped up, see this, even though I’m honestly not a Rocky fan (please don’t hate me).
- The Zone Offense/Defense Battle
Sebastian Pruiti did an amazing job diagramming the poor decisions made against the Miami zone defense on Saturday: you can read that here. I’d also like to bring up something else: Miami’s personnel while running the zone were almost ideal. With a zone, you want quick, long players guarding the perimeter and an active defender in the middle of the zone. Miami’s lineup during their second quarter run: based on the 2-3 zone they were running: the backcourt included Mario Chalmers and LeBron, while the frontcourt had James Jones, Chris Bosh, and Joel Anthony. You won’t find many longer, quicker, or more active defensive lineups than that. Imagine Wade replacing Chalmers and think of how scary long and quick that defense will be.
Meanwhile, the poor decisions made by the Sixers only accentuated the fact that they had the wrong players on the court when the zone came into play. Typically, you would want shooters on the court to spread the floor, since if you move the ball around and make good decisions you’ll usually get a good shot attempt. Against those players, though, it would be hard to get a clean look. So in this case you’d want the best shooter you have out there, right? Since you have such a small window to get off a shot? Well, we had Turner, Noce, and Lou on the perimeter and Hawes and Young playing inside. Not our best shooting lineup, at all. In fact, ideally, NONE of those players would play against a zone. My ideal lineup would be:
- Iguodala (I know, will explain)
Now, if we had better players suited for a zone, Iguodala wouldn’t be in here. But the difference between him an Noce is so great everywhere else but shooting (not like Noce is great at that anyway) that I’d rather have Dre out there, every time. Brand and Speights, meanwhile, make quite a pair against a zone. Brand loves the short corner jump shots (around 10 feet from the rim along the baseline) while Speights can hit shots from any open area that the zone provides, generally around the foul line. He doesn’t hesitate in these spots, either, which doomed the Sixers on a few of these possessions. I wondered at the time why Speights went into the game early in the third quarter, but now it’s clear: he’s a zone stopper – teams don’t want to play a zone while he’s on the court. Meeks can launch and hit shots with a split-second opening, and I trust Holiday to make better decisions than Lou, though honestly they are probably interchangeable.
- Thaddeus Young’s Breakout Party
In general, benches become less effective in the playoffs. Starters are used more often and rotations shrink. Which is why it was so wonderful for Young to play so well in the second half of the first game. In the first half he was all over the place, playing at 200 mph, but settled down the speed but kept his foot on the energy peddle, grabbing 8 offensive rebounds for the game. I mentioned in Young’s player review how his energy caused him to be a great offensive rebounder (when effort wins out) but a below-average defensive rebounder (when technique is king). So while he grabbed 8 tough offensive boards, he only had 3 at the other end and gave up some easy second chances, especially in the first half.
Young still shot only 45%, down from his season average of 54%. I love his energy, and he’s so much fun to watch, but he needs to work on sealing off opponents while rebounding and making a higher percentage of shots. If he does, he’ll be even better in game 2.
- The Elastic Man
Andre Iguodala hates the nickname “Iggy”, as he’d prefer to just be called “Dre”. Well, we need to come up with a new nickname that he likes, because Dre is boring. Personally, and I know this will never catch on, but I like the elastic man, meaning that he can cover pretty much anything. While the Plastic Man, Stacey Augmon*, might object to the similar sounding nickname, it fits. Anyway, Iguodala has proven time and time again that he could defend anybody, making their lives miserable throughout a game.
* A Stacey Augmon reference!
Doug Collins made an interesting and, I believe, a very smart tactical decision down the stretch to have Iguodala defend Dwyane Wade. The Heat, and by the Heat I mean Chris Bosh, revealed during interviews that Wade would be the primary decision-maker down the stretch of games. Not a bad choice considering LeBron’s track record during this season, in my opinion. But knowing this beforehand, having Iguodala, one of the NBA’s best defenders, on Wade is a great move. But, it turned out, Andre made a key mistake, allowing Wade to move away from a screen set for him, something Wade is well known for, and allowing him to get the leg-kick and-1. That sealed the win for Miami. I don’t see Andre making the same mistake again in game 2 if the situation arises, as he’s such a smart player.