Going into this much anticipated NBA Finals series, we all knew the potential there was to see some “small ball” lineups. Both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are regarded as the two most athletic teams in the league. In the same sense, they are two teams that don’t have a lot of conventional size up front and/or frequent low post scoring from their bigs. With all of the above taken into consideration, both teams opt for switching on defense to keep similar size and speed matchups and avoid getting into a help and rotate situation where offenses can take advantage. Switching also helps take away lots of the pick and roll action that is so dominant in the NBA. Often times, switching every screen can stall another team’s offense, causing them to stand around and watch as one player ioslates and usually forces a tough shot (see Miami Heat’s 4th quarter in Game 1).
Category Archives: NBA Playoffs 2012
He has long limbs, quick feet, broad shoulders, the strength to bang with any size player, the intelligence to recognize offensive tendencies and is extremely active. No, we are not talking about Scottie Pippen (widely regarded as the best perimeter defender of all time). We are talking about Thabo Sefolosha, the starting shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sefolosha, an unsung hero of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, is finally getting some of the attention he deserves.
It is finally upon us. The NBA Finals matchup we all wanted to see (Lakers vs. Heat being the other). The Miami Heat and The Oklahoma City Thunder will do battle on Tuesday, June 12 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. There are many internal storylines; some are subtle and others ridiculously obvious. In this post, we will attempt to look at all the interplay between these two teams and why this might be one of the best NBA Finals series we have seen in a long time.
Lebron vs. Durant
Clearly, this is the most talked about storyline in the lead up to this series. The two best players in the NBA right now will go head to head and in a couple weeks one will win a ring. This is the second year in a row in the NBA Finals for LeBron and the Heat and he surely stands to lose alot more than Durant if he should happen to fail to be victorious. The pressure is going to be at an all time high for LeBron James but so far so good this year especially after his domination of the Celtics in the last two pressurized games of that series. The Thunder pose a different challenge. LeBron will face numerous bodies that are among the league’s best defenders. Sefolosha, Harden, Westbrook, and Durant himself will surely be guarding LeBron. The Heat need continue to incorporate nice actions where LeBron receives a flex screen and cuts into the low post for a quick catch and score or mid post isolation. If “aggressive LeBron” shows up to the games in this series then he should continue to climb the ladder of immortality.
The most well oiled, fine tuned offense in the NBA Playoffs (and for the entire season for that matter) has been the San Antonio Spurs. They have the personnel, experience and understanding of basic offensive concepts to create some beautiful offense. The staple play of their offense and the one that did the most damage in Game 1 against the Utah Jazz was the Spread Pick and Roll. The Spread Pick and Roll is a set where a high ball screen or high angled ball screen occurs while having 3 shooters spaced outside the 3PT line. The Spurs usually go to the Spread Pick and Roll exclusively when Matt Bonner, Stephen Jackson, Danny Green/Manu Ginobli are in the game, because they are all deadly shooters. Add that to the fact that Tony Parker is using the ball screen to get into the paint at will, while guys like Tim Duncan, Dejuan Blair and Tiago Splitter are rolling to the rim for dunks, and no wonder they have the best record in the West.
In Part 1 of The Locker Room’s look at the Heat’s defensive strategy against Carmelo Anthony, we saw how fronting the postup was effective in taking away an easy scoring opportunites for Melo. In this post we will look at two ways that the Knicks can take Melo off the ball and use some planned movement to get him easier catches in better scoring positions.
Throughout the NBA playoffs, we here at The Locker Room will be looking at the most interesting topics and moments that arise during all these highly contested games. In Game 1 of the series between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks, the Heat showcased how to effectively stop or slow down a great player. That great player was Carmelo Anthony, who shot 3 for 15 from the field and had 4 turnovers in the blow-out loss.
The Heat clearly made it a point of emphasis to take Melo out of the game early on. To stop Melo, the Heat used a combination of great defensive size and athleticism, taking away any catches in an operating area, double teaming, and forcing contested mid-range jumpshots. The defensive size, athleticism and intelligence came in the form of LeBron James and Shane Battier. They both battled Carmelo every possession, taking away any easy catches and making Melo play further and further out on the perimeter. Both have great length to contest any ISO jump shots that Carmelo decided to settle for. Lastly, both are quick enough to contain Melo if he decides to go off the dribble.