Jordan Kahn breaks down the latest NBA trends in video form. You can find more of his work at Basketball Things and follow him on Twitter @AyoitsJordan.
This post is part of our playoff preview series here at Hickory-High, complete with both statistical and video breakdowns. Check out the rest of the previews here.
The Celtics-Hawks series looks like it will be a hard-fought, defensive battle. With the help of mySynergySports, let’s take a look at how each offense can combat these strong defenses.
While Kevin Garnett’s defense has been highly praised this year, Garnett has increased his usage and remained a highly effective player on offense. In the post, Garnett ranked 27th in the league, scoring 0.94 points per possession. With Al Horford out, Josh Smith, Ivan Johnson, and Zaza Pachulia are left to defend KG. The Hawks would be wise to use Smith on Garnett, just as they did in the April 11th matchup. Smith has been a solid post defender this year, allowing 0.74 points per post possession, and he seemed to bother KG in the post when they matched up. Of the nine times Garnett posted up Smith, KG only scored twice. Smith didn’t fall for many of Garnett’s tricks and used his length to bother his shots. The video below shows a few examples.
On the pick-and-pop, Garnett was much more effective against the Hawks. Garnett ranks 46th in the NBA as a roll-man in the pick and roll (where he does much more popping to the perimeter than rolling) and has been a great shooter on long two-pointers. During their regular season meetings, KG was able to score off the pick-and-pop when both Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia were guarding him. Some video examples are below. The Celtics may have to abandon the low post game and focus on the pick-and-pop.
Avery Bradley’s defense has been a large part of the Celtics’ second half resurgence, but against Joe Johnson and the Hawks, he may be a liability because of post play. Johnson is one of the best post-up players in the league, ranking eighth in the NBA in points per possession in the post. Furthermore, while Bradley is an excellent perimeter defender, he is below average as a post defender. When they’ve met up this season, Johnson has been getting whatever he wants in the post against Bradley. The clips below show what happens when a great post player is guarded by someone at a four-inch and 40-pound disadvantage. Check out how easily Johnson gets where he wants to go.
In the other backcourt matchup, Jeff Teague will be facing off against Rajon Rondo. Many would consider this to be a big advantage for Boston, but Teague may be able to hold his own in some situations. Although Rondo is a good defender, Teague has been very good on offense in isolation this, ranking 34th in the league in points per isolation possession. Much of his effectiveness is due to his ability to get to the hoop. According to Synergy Sports, Teague is shooting layups on 43 percent 46/105 of his shots in isolation; he doesn’t settle for jumpers. Teague’s ability to get into the paint versus a set defense has the potential to create foul trouble for Boston and open three pointers for Atlanta’s wing players. The video below shows Teague’s explosive driving ability.
If you’re a fan of defense and maybe even ugly basketball, this might be the series for you. This could easily be a long series, as both defenses are going to make the opposing offense work hard to put points on the board.