In today's post, we'll take a look at game one of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals between the Mavericks and the Lakers.
After blowing a 16 point lead in the third quarter, there is much talk of how the Lakers couldn't find a way to match up against Dirk Nowitzki. But the Lakers displayed some more fundamentally troubling issues throughout the game:
In the 1st:
Kobe pushes the ball in transition and makes the dribble entry. During transition, 6ft 10in Lamar Odom drew a crossmatch and was able to seal the 6ft 4in Jason Kidd. Instead of feeding the ball into Odom, Kobe decides to pull up for a shot he could get at anytime during the rest of the game.
In the 2nd:
Once again in transition, except this time the Lakers have drawn two mismatches:
- Dirk on Steve Blake
- and "listed at but there is no way he is 6ft" JJ Barea on 7ft Pau Gasol
Instead of asking for a clearout to allow Pau to self post against Barea, the Lakers feed Bynum the ball into a waiting double team. Bynum ignores his completely wideopen teammates and forces a hook shot over the extended arms of Brendan Haywood.
In the 3rd:
From this side out of bounds, the Lakers run a play straight out of 2006:
- Odom makes a dribble entry
- a two pass to the top is made for Kobe to get an iso out at the wing
But look at who is guarding Odom, 6ft 2in Jason Terry! Odom can't just mindlessly run the play to give Kobe his iso. The triangle is designed to allow freelancing to be able to punish mistakes made by the defense. Here he had a perfect opportunity to cut across the lane and setup in the post. Instead, Kobe forces up the most inefficient shot in the game: a contested long midrange dribble jumper.
In the 4th:
Here the Lakers run a single double for Shannon Brown. Brown does a good job faking towards the double then coming back to use the single screen. As Jason Terry scrambles back to Brown, Shannon smartly uses a screen from Odom forcing Dirk to step out to help and switch. Once again, the 6ft 2in Terry is left to defend Odom, but the post up is turned down for another contested long midrange dribble jumper...
In crunch time:
The Lakers run a standard open set for Kobe who is tightly guarded by 38 year old Jason Kidd. Jason Terry isn't even pretending to guard Derek Fisher so Kobe has to drive right. By this time, there is not a single Maverick paying attention to his assigned man and Kobe has three wide open targets to choose from.
Undeterred, Kobe continues his drive to the basket. Met by four Mavs defenders, Kobe finally decides to attempt a pass at the last moment but the wild pass ends in a turnover and a Lakers foul.
In a close game one loss, the Lakers continually punished themselves by trading undeniably obvious mismatches for tough looks. Beyond the usual game to game adjustments, the Lakers need to look within and realize that what's hurting them the most isn't Dirk Nowitzki's incredible shooting but their all too familiar lack of focus.