Monday, April 19, 2010

Game 1 - Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers, April 18, 2010

It's clear that the Lakers were intent on taking advantage of their size and skilled post players to start off their 2010 postseason.

Rather than setting up the traditional triangle (where the overload is on the strong side), the Lakers looked to isolate their bigs in the solo series (where the overload is on the weakside).
In the first clip, we see that the Lakers attempt set up Bynum in a solo. Bynum shapes up on the line of deployment with Fisher however, Bynum is fronted and Gasol's man is ready to double on any lob so Fisher reverses to Kobe.

Kobe and Gasol set up a new solo.  Gasol does a good job sealing his man so Bryant feeds Gasol.  Instead of cutting to clear for Gasol, Kobe decides to back off.  This allows Thabo an attempt to double.  Gasol makes a great fake pass to Kobe, Thabo bites and in the next motion Gasol simply rises over the shorter Green and drains the shot.

In the second clip, Bynum is running the floor so Fisher looks to push the ball. Fisher directly fills the wing position (instead of making a pass to Ron) which pushes Ron to the corner. Fisher fakes a lob to Bynum and makes the N.2 pass to the top (reversing to Bryant coming out to the defensive balance position, the top of the three point line).

The N.2 pass to the top should key Gasol to go to the pinch post (and on the weakside, the N.2 pass also keys Fisher to run a rebound screen cut to free up Ron, Fisher also steps back to the corner as Westbrook completely ignores him to watch Kobe) but Kobe and Gasol decide to run a decoy pick and roll to set up yet another solo. Green decides to front Gasol this time and Krstic is ready to double on the lob, so Kobe reverses the ball to the freed up Ron.

Another solo is formed for Bynum and Fisher. (Here we see that Ron has forgotten to make the cut to the weakside corner, where he would have been responsible for rebounding on the opposite side of the rim. Kobe corrects him and motions Ron to the corner.) Bynum just abuses Krstic and gets good position in the post. Fisher feeds Bynum and instead of cutting, elects to back off (perhaps this was part of the gameplan as Kobe earlier elected not to cut on the same pass). Westbrook makes a weak attempt to double on the dribble and Bynum simply spins away for a hook over Krstic.

Here Kobe slows down in transition and looks to set up a center opposite for Gasol (set up the triangle by allowing the post player to come across the lane). The N.1 pass goes from Kobe to Ron. Gasol comes across to form the triangle but he is unable to establish good position because of Bynum's poor screen.

The key N.2 pass goes from Ron to Fisher in the corner. This should have keyed the action for Ron to banana cut off of Gasol (who should have vacated the post and come up to the pinch post to screen for Ron). Instead, Gasol decides to keep fighting for his terrible post position and the whole play goes south:
Ron starts his banana cut multiple times but is never sure if he should cut or stay.
Kobe does not fan away to the wing spot on the weakside of the floor, allowing Thabo a chance to help if the ball goes to Gasol.
Bynum does not freeze on the opposite block, so instead of sealing his man, Krstic is able to come over and help on the lob.
Green does a good job fighting Gasol and is able to front him. At first it seems like Fisher should have been able to make the lob, but Fisher should have seen that Bynum had not sealed his man and the Krstic was in good position to help.

Fisher goes for the lob and Gasol is immediately swarmed. Gasol is so skilled that he is able to catch and simply shoot over the doulbe team for a pretty good look.

This next clip shows how the formation of the triangle can be disguised.

Fisher passes to Ron who comes out to defensive balance. Here we see a symmetrical alignment where both post and wing positions are filled.  It looks as if the Lakers are going to set up Gasol but Green does a good job fronting and the ball is reversed. Bynum slips and losses his good post position and so gets fronted by Krstic. Fisher trys to establish a better angle for the entry pass by dribbling to the corner but Krstic does a good job fronting again. Meanwhile Kobe is coming out to defensive balance, Gasol is in the weakside wing, Fisher is in the strong side corner and Bynum has shaped up along the line of deployment with Ron filling the wing: the triangle is formed!

Ron makes the N.2 pass to the post. Although Bynum had established good position, he was too quick to make his move, allowing Durant and Westbrook to double Bynum's blindside. By the time Bynum gets his shot off he is going 3 against 1. (Ignoring the easiest pass in basketball, passing to the short corner, and losing a chance at the most efficient shot in the game, a corner three!)

Fisher makes up for the missed corner three opportunity on the next possession.

Kobe brings the ball up and makes the N.1 pass to Gasol in the wing. Fisher elects to fill the strong side corner and the triangle is formed.

Gasol makes the N.2 pass to the corner and before Bynum can even get to the free throw line to screen for Gasol's banana cut, Fisher launches an ill-advised three.

This next clip, Kobe quickly pushes the ball and calls Gasol over for a decoy pick and roll. Artest fills the weakside wing and Fisher fills defensive balance, Kobe fills the corner, Gasol fills the post and Bynum moves out to the wing forming the triangle.

Green completely ignores Bynum and goes to double Gasol on the entry pass. Bynum makes the proper read and cuts to the basket for the easy layup.

This next clip beautifully demonstrates Kobe's basketball IQ. The play looks exactly the same as the last possession: Ron fills the weakside wing, Fisher fills defensive balance, Bynum fills the strongside wing, Kobe and Gasol run the decoy pick and roll to seemingly set up Gasol in the post again. The Thunder are ready for the play this time as Green has established position to fight Gasol for the post and Krstic goes out to check Bynum. Instead of Gasol filling the post, Kobe tells Gasol to cut baseline and tells Ron to come across the lane to fill the triangle!

Kobe throws the entry pass into Ron. Bynum makes his cut but Ron makes his move before Bynum can even clear (going 3 against 1, what is it with the Lakers going against triple teams!). Ron uses his strength to bully past Durant and gets his shot up before Krstic can fully rotate.

The last clip starts out with another decoy pick and roll, this time Fisher and Kobe to set up Kobe in the post. Because Ron does not come over to fill the wing (establishing a triangle) a solo is set up. Fisher makes the solo cut along the baseline and Ron fans away completely leaving Westbrook (who had switched onto Bryant on the pick and roll) all alone on Kobe island.

Bryant begins the Westbrook puppet show by faking over the left shoulder fadeawys as Gasol begins a cut. Bryant sees this, but decides to go baseline anyways. Gasol stops midway through his cut allowing Bryant to use Gasol like a screen. Green goes rotates over but Bryant uses a nice right handed hook to finish over Green.

Scott Brooks has seen enough and calls a Thunder timeout.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, great site! Just started reading through it all.

    It looks to me like Gasol gets extremely close to the baseline a couple of times when setting up in the post. Was this done for any specific reason?

    And why does Bynum attempt to set those screens for Gasol with his bum? Why not a regular solid screen?

    I love the way Kobe just steps infront of Westbrook to make him switch. The young whipper snapper didn´t even know the play had started before the trap had snapped.