Second Round Preview: When The Lakers Have The Ball

Darius Soriano —  April 30, 2011

With the Lakers starting their second round series against the Mavericks on Monday, we start our series preview today. In our first installment, we look at the Lakers’ offense versus the Mavericks’ defense.

The Mavericks may not be known as a defensive team, but for the season they boasted a top 10 defense measured by points per 100 possessions. They feature good length up front, solid wing defenders, and are more than willing to mix up their defensive scheme by playing zone. Two areas in which they excelled in the regular season were opponent’s FG% where they were 8th in the league allowing 45% and in their defensive rebound rate where they ranked 7th in the league. Because they weren’t a great team at forcing turnovers, they’re very reliant on getting initial stops and then securing the rebound to go the other way.

In order for the Lakers’ offense to be effective against this Mavericks’ team, they’ll need to be disciplined and play to the strengths of their individual match ups. As it is against most teams, that means attacking the Mavs inside first in order to open up other areas of the floor. If the Lakers can successfully establish the post, the Mavs will be forced to help on the block, which should then allow the perimeter players more time to shoot their jumpers while also opening up slashing lanes and angles for offensive rebounds.

And as it is against most teams, this offensive approach needs to begin with Pau Gasol. During the regular season, Pau had good success against the Mavs averaging 20 points a game on 54.5% shooting. If he’s to be as successful in the playoffs, the Lakers will need to look for him early and often and get him the ball in positions where he’s comfortable attacking. Against the Mavs, that should be easier than it was against the Hornets. Gasol will mostly be guarded by Dirk and while the big German offers good size, he’s not especially quick and isn’t a player that’s overly physical. When reviewing all of Gasol’s possessions vs. the Mavs from the regular season via Synergy Sports, a few trends immediately became clear. First is that Pau easily established position on his own, without the aid of a screen, in standard post ups just by running to his spot and calling for the ball. Pau did this in the hub of the Triangle on the strong side as well as on the weak side at both the low block and at the elbow. After establishing the post, Pau easily got off his jumper against Dirk and did so frequently against a sagging D. However, Pau was also able to both back Dirk down with good consistency and also did a very good job of turning and facing to attack off the dribble. In this series, I’d much rather Pau do the latter to make Dirk work on the defensive side of the ball. Again, Dirk will rarely body Gasol to keep him off his spots and that should allow him to get the type of position that is needed to attack with his jump hook off back downs and with his rolling hook off the bounce. If Pau is in attack mode this series, Dallas will have their hands full as they really don’t have a big man defender to bother Pau unless they shift Chandler onto him for extended possessions.

Speaking of Chandler, he’ll be the defensive key for the Mavs in this series. He is their best defensive big and is the type of long, rangy, and tenacious rim protector that makes a difference when he’s on the court. During the regular season, the Mavs saw this first hand as the Lakers scored nearly 5 points more per 100 possessions when Chandler was on the bench versus when he was on the bench according to’s Stats Cube. Chandler’s ability to not only defend the post against his primary man, but protect the rim when other Lakers went to the block or attacked the paint off the dribble was huge for them. That said, in this series, he’ll find it more difficult than ever to both those things as Andrew Bynum has taken a bigger role in the Lakers offensive sets. Plus, as Phillip details, Chandler didn’t do that great a job defending Bynum in the first place:

One thing that really stood out to me is how poorly Tyson Chandler defended Andrew Bynum. He played a lot less physical than what I remembered when I originally watched the games, as if he were playing not to foul. Bynum was able to use his big frame to get great position for his baby hook shot or drop step toward the basket for an easy layup. In the final Lakers/Mavs regular season game in particular, Bynum wasn’t just effective in scoring against Chandler/Haywood/Dirk, but his ability to score one-on-one against those guys drew a lot of defenders, so Pau ended up getting freed on the offensive glass. On two or three of Bynum’s misses, Pau was able to score off the offensive rebound. On his other miss, Pau was all alone on the back side glass, and probably would have ended up with the rebound if ‘Drew’s shot wasn’t short.

This last point of offensive rebounding is a key one due to the aforementioned fact that the Mavs are typically a good defensive rebounding team. If both Bynum and Gasol can establish the post or put pressure on the defense by attacking the paint on aggressive drives and back downs, the help will come and the back side rebounding lanes will burst open. On countless possessions that I observed during the regular season, Gasol was especially adept at just walking his man underneath the hoop or slashing to rim on the angle whenever his man gave ground to help at the rim. Direct tip ins and loose balls out of scrums under the hoop often found Gasol’s sticky mits and in this series the Lakers will look to continue to capitalize on those chances whenever they attack they attack the paint. Remember, there’s more than high-low passing and cross screen actions to big man teamwork. These guys can help each other out a lot just by being aggressive going to the rim when they have the ball.

Speaking of big men, this is also a series where Odom can play a major role. Besides Shawn Marion, the Mavs don’t really have a good option to put on Odom. And considering Marion will have a lot of defensive responsibility in this series (likely splitting his time between Artest, Kobe, and Odom) LO can have a field day working in the gaps of Dallas’ scheme in the half court by taking advantage of the attention that Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum receive. But where Odom can have his biggest impact is by grabbing defensive rebounds and pushing the ball against the retreating Dallas big men. Besides Marion, none have the foot speed to counter Odom in the open court. And with Pau/Bynum such threats on the low block, Odom will often find himself working in space as the Mavs’ big men turn and run to the paint in order to set up and protect the paint. LO should be able to run up these big men’s backs and get to his left hand to finish over the top when they’re on the retreat. Odom can also be especially dangerous anytime the Mavs go zone as his ability to find creases both at the FT line and in the shallow corner will allow him to be a playmaker in space whenever he makes the catch. After having an up and down first round, this may be the series that LO makes his imprint.

Looking beyond the big men though, the player that may have the biggest match up advantage is Kobe. As Phillip explains, the Mavs will have trouble matching up with #24 while effective dealing with his full skill set:

During the course of this series, we can end up seeing the breadth of Kobe’s offensive repertoire. During the regular season series, the Mavericks threw myriad defenders at Kobe in hopes of slowing him down. We saw DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Rodrique Beaubois all spending some time guarding Kobe, and Kobe has had some success against all of them. When he’s had smaller defenders on him (Terry, Beaubois), he’s taken them down in the post, or simply shot over the top of them off of spot up jumpers or off of screens. With bigger defenders (Marion, Stevenson, Kidd), he was more prone to start on the perimeter and attempt to beat them off the dribble in isolation situations. Stevenson might be the best individual defender on Kobe, but even he lacks the size that guys like a Shane Battier or a Nicolas Batum have, guys who have done some of the better jobs on him in recent years.

However, one of the bigger issues that the Mavericks are going to face with Kobe is the fact that, since none of those guys are really able to guard him in one-on-one situations, he has the ability to make all of the other advantages Darius mentioned about the Lakers size more glaring. If you send double teams at Kobe, that means you could end up leaving Bynum, Gasol, Odom or even Artest alone on an island. If Kobe does shoot over the double teams (which he will from time to time), it just gives the Lakers more opportunities for backside rebounds (assuming the shot misses). Maybe most troubling for the Mavs, Kobe has shown during the season series that he will take exactly what the Dallas defense is giving him – scoring well on one night (28 points in the 3rd match up) and being the facilitator in another (totaling 10 assists in the 1st match up). This diversity that Kobe offers could end up giving the Mavericks fits for however long this series lasts.

The Lakers certainly have the tools to attack an underrated Mavs defense. However, a lot of the Lakers success will depend on their ability to play smart basketball and not get caught up settling for the easy jumper but rather working the ball inside to pressure the interior of Dallas’ D. Whether it’s Gasol, Bynum, Kobe, or Ron acting on direct post ups or Odom and Kobe attacking off the dribble, the Lakers must look to play this series 15 feet and down to not only get easier looks at the basket but also force the Mavs to either foul or concede early baskets. Considering the importance of Chandler in this series, the Mavs will have difficult choices to make should both Pau and Bynum have good games in tandem as he can only guard one of them at a time. This may force the Mavs to go zone more often, but that tactic also opens them up to easier offensive rebounding chances and more slashing from Kobe and Odom working in the gaps. There are no easy answers here for the Mavs but the Lakers must make them work to not let them off the hook. If they do that, I expect the Lakers to have success and therefor force the Mavs’ offense to keep pace. As stated at the top, discipline will be the key but as the Lakers get deeper into the post-season I expect this to be less of an issue as it was early in the Hornets series.

Darius Soriano

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to Second Round Preview: When The Lakers Have The Ball

  1. Good piece of analysis.

    Frankly, I think the Lakers’ offense will win or lose the series as that is largely what will determine the pace of each game. If, as you indicated, the Lakers play with discipline and sustain action going into the paint, it should be difficult for Kidd et al to bump tempo up in Dallas’ favor.

    One question on that note: what do you think the Lakers need to do in transitioning from offense to defense to prevent Dallas from fastbreaking off of made baskets?


  2. here’s to the lakers doing to the mavs what they did to the jazz last season.

    go lakers!


  3. I still vividly remember the days when I’d look way up the standings, and the cream of the Western Conference was the Spurs-Mavs-Suns trifecta. They seemed untouchable at times. And I remember wondering (like Kobe in 2007) if we’d ever retool enough to be able to compete with those three.

    Now we’ve dispatched the Spurs and the Suns, and we’re coming for the last great Western team of the previous decade. I honestly believe this year’s Mavs team is better than the 2006 version, and it just illustrates to me how much stronger the top of the league has gotten since then.

    A battle of the top two PFs in the league. Bynum and Kidd (who Kobe wanted to ship Bynum’s a** out for) on the same court. Mark Cuban having hissy fits in the press. This series should be very entertaining.

    I find one thing amazing … for years, no matter what he tried, Jason Kidd could not develop a jumpshot. He was an absolutely horrific jumpshooter (read this to find out how historically bad – He was an elite defender, position rebounder, and playmaker – only his jumpshot held him back.

    Then he comes to Dallas, and something just clicks with his jumpshot (although he has admittedly regressed this year again). Speaking as a bball fan, it’s too bad that he couldn’t develop this jumpshot earlier in his career. If he had, he could have retired as the best PG not named Magic.


  4. I agree with you Darius, Discipline will be less of a problem for the Lakers in this match-up. I think the Lakers will be more focused and disciplined against the Mavs considering the bad blood between the two teams which led to 5 players getting ejected that resuilted to Matt Barnes getting suspended. Kobe and company would not allow Phil Jackson to end his coaching career on a sour note while seeing Mark Cuban have his Triumphant gaze against Phil and the Buss family.


  5. chandler has tremendous footspeed for a center; drew does not. if pau has to pick him up in transition, that allows dallas to create a mismatch–dirk vs drew. not only that, it forces drew to defend out on the perimeter instead of protecting the paint. double trouble.

    i feel like the only way dallas can create this mismatch and dictate tempo is if they a) pressure the ball up the floor, giving the Lakers less time to run their offense and b) take away the Lakers’ options and leave them scrambling to improvise out on the perimeter.

    One thing the Lakers can do on offense is just be determined to get into the offense right away. NO leisurely dribbling the ball across halfcourt with 17 seconds left on the clock, and starting with 15 to play. Use more of the clock, not less of it.

    Paradoxically, The Lakers can slow the game down by speeding things up.


  6. Should I be the first to say it? Too bad. I will be. This is the most talented Lakers team one through eight of all time.


  7. (winces)

    Ooof….I love this incarnation too, Aaron, but that is a big mouthful to chew on….that 2000-2001 squad that tore through the playoffs had (1) shaq (2) kobe (3) fish (4) fox (5) grant (6) harper (7) shaw (8) horry….that’s a pretty good crew (George and Lue were bit players then….and Slava….)


  8. We have five star players and one of the clucthest spot up shooters of all time in Fisher. Then we have a NBA starting PG off our bench and another starting SF in Barnes off the bench. Remember Barnes started for a good Magic team last year. Shannon is our ninth best player. And he isn’t that bad. But one through eight I think this is the best Lakers team off all time. I want arguments from someone who has a showtime team that can compete with this 2011 team talent wise.


  9. The 1986-87 team that won 65 games had (1) Magic (2) Scott (3) Worthy (4) AC (5) The Captain with (6) Coops (7) Thompson (Mychal not Billy) (8) Rambis and (9) Thompson (Billy not Mychal)—that’s awfully tough Aaron–seven players who averaged in double-figures….

    if we assume Kobe and Magic are a wash,

    Scott > Fish—I hear the “clutch” point, but still….Scott > Fish

    You take Worthy over Ron Ron.

    AC didn’t have Pau’s skill, but he led that team in rebounds, and was tough.

    Kareem, even then, was better than Drew.

    The benches of these teams were composed of different kinds of players, so it’s tough to compare. The 86-87 squad had more forwards, this squad more wings…

    But their best players were of similar importance….Lamar and Cooper played different positions, but filled similar “first guy off the bench” roles.

    Tough to overlook that team…


  10. Sorry, Aaron. I figure you for a younger guy. The 1985 Lakers were more talented. Three Hall of Famers were in the starting lineup (Magic, Kareem, Worthy). One extremely talented SG (Scott) and one dirty work PF (Rambis) were in the starting lineup. Two potential future HOFers came off the bench (Wilkes, McAdoo). A Defensive Player of the Year and five NBA 1st-team All Defense guy (Cooper) came off the bench, along with a rehabbing but solid former NBA All Rookie player (Kupchak). Also, a shooting guard who was 3rd in the entire NBA in FG percentage the year before (59.4%) and was replaced by Byron Scott in the starting lineup (Mike McGee) came off the bench. McGee was the 10th guy on the team and actually led the Lakers in points per 36 minutes in the 1985 season.


  11. Terrific post – lays out the offensive strategy in a way that’s both detailed and clearcut. I’m confident that the team knows how to win, I only hope they start the series with the proper energy. All too often, they wait until they’re really challenged before rising to the occasion. As for the most talented squads, I can think of many over the decades. One that doesn’t get mentioned all that often however is the 2003-4 edition from Phil’s previous last stand – they could have been great but went through so much in the way of injuries and turmoil. I’m sure they would have beaten Detroit with a healthy Malone and Horace Grant. Not sure they would have qualified as ‘most talented’ but there sure was a huge anticipation in early part of the ’03 summer.


  12. Yeah no doubt the showtime teams were more talented overall, even if one chooses to elevate Kobe to Magic’s level, which I sure don’t (are you kidding me?).

    Of course, the latter is an argument for another time.


  13. I don’t know. I’ll take Bynum over an ’87 Kareem. I’ll take Gasol over AC Green and Kobe over Scott. I’ll also take Lamar over Cooper. That’s the 87 team right there behind this squad.


  14. Remember that Kareem that year was basically forty years old.


  15. Aaron,
    You really are young.

    I saw Kareem from the time he enrolled at UCLA until he retired from the Lakers (25 years). At 40 Kareem could still cause a lot of trouble and the skyhook was still deadly. Drew would have given him a lot of problems, but he would have probably fouled Drew out of more than one game in the series.

    Don’t assume that just because they played in an older era, the old-timers were worse athletes.


  16. I think the 1987 and 1988 Lakers were deeper than this year, as has been noted, and one could also argue the 1999-2000 Lakers had more talent, by merit of a deeper bench.

    Kobe vs. Kobe
    Ron Harper vs. Fish
    Rice vs. Artest
    AC Green vs. Pau
    Shaq vs. Drew

    I’d favor this season’s starters over the team from 11 years ago, but not by much. It’s probably Artest and Pau that tip the edges, but it’s very close. I love Drew, but Shaq was all-universe that year.

    Horry, Fox, Fisher and Shaw were the first four off the 2000 champs bench; three of those four would go on to become starters on future Lakers’ championship squads.

    We know Odom could play a starters’ role on an NBA title team, but aside from him no one sees Blake, Barnes and Brown as anything but role guys for the Lakers going forward.


  17. I am thirty years old. Which is an advantage. I don’t remember watching those late 80’s teams at the forum. I rem a little as I was there often as my parents had season tix. But all my knowledge is based on recent memory of watching classic showtime games on satellite. Of which I’ve spent more time than I would care to admit. I’m a basketball junky. It’s not healthy. Kareem was very average in the late 80’s. He was a liability on defense and couldn’t score very easily one on one in the post.


  18. Some interesting Lakers talk here tonight, indeed. What made the 80’s Lakers great was Magic at 6’9″, he was a mismatch against every other teams PG, and their Showtime way of playing was one of a kind. As I recall though, defense was a big strength of that group also, and created the offense. When Magic was on the floor, every player had to be ready for a no-look-pass at anytime. Wow, makes me want to see that team against a current day team in a series.


  19. The mid-80s Showtime teams were huge, too:

    – A 7’2″ center
    – A 6’9″ power forward starting (Rambis or AC), and a 6’11” power forward closing (McAdoo or Thompson
    – A 6’9″ small forward
    – A 6’4″ guard starting and a 6’6″ guard closing
    – And a 6’9″ point guard.


  20. Kareem had 32 points in the closeout game of the ’87 Finals and made Robert Parish look helpless.


  21. Basically, our plan should be to go at whoever they decide to put Dirk on. Heck, he can’t even hold his ground against Artest.


  22. thisisweaksauce May 1, 2011 at 1:22 am

    I feel that there’s this taboo when it comes to comparing any modern team with a great team of the past. Yes, those teams were awesome, but they’re not immune to criticism. We find lots of criticism in this current era of the Lakers, and these guys are one for the history books (ESPECIALLY if they win it all this year – 4 straight finals and 3 straight titles. Rare indeed.). Don’t you guys think, as spoiled as we are, we wouldn’t find as many or more criticisms for the Showtime Lakers if we had Forum Blue and Gold, Silver Screen and Roll, and other such blogs/commenters from our current blogging era back then? So look, as much as possible, with an unbiased eye and judge as objectively as possible. Some won’t admit it, but these Lakers, at the very, very least, would give teams from other eras fits – they just wouldn’t get their butts handed to them as some may imply. So when someone says that X (this current Lakers team, Kobe, or any contemporary figure) may or is better/more talented/awesomer/crazier/whatever than Y (Showtime Lakers, Michael, any past great), don’t just dismiss them as young. Just argue, objectively, while taking in all variables (such as who had better basketball IQ, who was more athletic, who was more skilled, the competition they played against, etc.), against the actual point that they’re making. But in the end, we won’t actually know unless they actually play each other (which, sadly enough, will never happen).


  23. I’ll take the 85 team as an option to take down this team. But no Shaq/Kobe team can be taken seriously. Only the ’00 team can be even in the discussion. But starting AC Green as an old man and Ron Harper on his last leg eliminates that team. Also Kobe wasn’t a super star player yet. His name sounds good but he wasn’t a dominating player that year.


  24. I just think we should be appreciating this historically great Lakers team. Their talent with an emerging Andrew Bynum and a star in Lamar Odom off the bench is spectacular. A defensive animal in Ron Artest who is now comfortable in the offense? Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol? Don’t forget Blake and Barnes have been starters in this league the season before this year. It’s time to give these champions their do!


  25. And we have to rememeber to adjust for pace of game. Notice the PER of players in the 80’s instead of rpg or ppg. Their were just so many more possessions back them with the fast pace. And as far as the Shaq/Kobe teams remember that when we were winning everyone thought the supporting cast was so weak because Fisher, Fox, and Horry although they made clutch shots were outplayed by their counter parts in almost every series. They were considered weak links. Kobe and Shaq were just the two best players in the NBA.


  26. The 2001 team was the best of the Shaq-Kobe teams. Having an amazing PF tandem of Horace Grant and Robert Horry meant that the great PFs in the Western Conference didn’t kill us like they did the season before when AC Green got hosed almost every game.

    Aaron, don’t forget that Kareem was the 1985 Finals MVP at the age of 38. He completely owned Parish (a Hall of Fame 7-0 center in his prime) in that series. Cooper also D’d up Bird, who said that Cooper was the best one-on-one defender he’d ever played against.

    Just imagine how stacked the NBA would be right now with only 23 teams, as it was in 1985. Distribute the players on these teams throughout the rest of the league: MIA, CHA, NOLA, MIN, MEM, TOR, and ORL. Maybe if you see it this way, you’ll understand how stacked the league was back then.


  27. I, no way, want to put down this team. I have been enjoying them for 4 years – ever since the ESPN dodobirds (read Jon Berry, etc) picked them for 10th in the West and they went to the finals. However, all this “best team” talk really galls me.

    It is impossible to name a “best player”, never mind a “best team”. Just can’t be done; so stop it already and enjoy the game today.


  28. This year’s team isn’t anywhere close to what it could be. Don’t know if that should be considered a positive or a negative when comparing it to other teams.


  29. Well, it looks like Daryl Morey plans to interview every single person that’s ever worn a suit on an NBA bench:


  30. Before the Spurs-Grizz series, I never realized what a good post game Battier has. But he can punish smaller defenders. They should feed him repeatedly to punish Brooks for playing the 3-guard Maynor-Cook-Harden lineup.

    What I’ll be looking for in the Heat-Celtics game: Celtics turnovers. Their biggest weakness is their inability to hang onto the ball, and that turns into the Heat’s biggest strength (getting out on the break). If the Celtics are careless with the ball, the game could turn very quickly.


  31. Snoopy,
    I’ll be interested if the Heat can effectively play a half court game against the C’s strong side D. Will they get creative with their sets? Wade’s been pretty bad against them this year, but he’s so good at figuring things out. He’ll need to this series for the Heat to win.


  32. So, watching the last half of the Grizzly v Robber Barons game…

    Durant just “fouled” Conley with his back. Essentially, Durant jumped to contest Conley, moving from Conley’s left to his right, a good 3 feet in front of him, just trying to use his length. At no point would Durant’s trajectory cause contact with Conley, but Conley used a very cagey move, and jumped into Durant’s back as it moved past him. There is no question that Conley initiated the contact, created it intentionally, in essence had to CHASE IT DOWN, and yet he gets the foul call and goes to the line for two free throws.

    I hope that the NBA looks at this sort of thing during the off-season and allows the referees to use more judgment in those situations.

    I have two questions about the play for discussion:

    1) Is it possible, as the rules are written, to commit a charging foul against a defender that is in the air? I don’t think it is, but I am not sure.

    2) Are the referees saying at this point, essentially, “If you are defending, don’t jump, and don’t extend your arms.”? Because, as things stand now, either jumping or extending your arms gives a scorer the chance to jump into you mid-air, or “rip” through your arms using their “shooting motion”, creating contact and getting easy free throws.


  33. The Dude,
    I’m talking about talent one through eight. The 2001 team would beat his team because Kobe had just become dominant at year and Shaq was in the last year of his prime. having those guys on the same team was unfair. It’s like this years Miami team… Two or three awesome ayers amd the rest garbage. I can’t believe you would even mention Grant amd Horry as a PF combination when both would get destroyed by whoever they were going up against. We had a disadvantage at the PG, SF, and PF position going into every playoff series. And yes in the 1980’s there were less teams. However there was also a smaller talent pool. With basketball becoming a global game the pool of talent from which the NBA picks from has enhanced exponentially. I think that more than makes up for adding seven more teams. And when you throw in modern training, medical, and dietary improvements I would favor this years squad in a seven game series. I know some are not a bug fan of PER… But I think it’s the best wayto meassure a players offensive game. Try this one out for size. For thier careers Lamar Odom and hall of famer James Worthy have basically the same PERs. And Odom’s PER this year blows Worthy out of the water. Worthy was the Lakers second best player for most of the late 80’s and a great player at that. Odom is the Lakers fourth or arguably fifth best player on this ’11 team. And if you think Andrew Bynum will push around Chandler… In 1985 Kareem weighed 227 lbs and would be going up against a 285 lbs Andrew Bynum. I would think Kareem would out play Andrew…. But who knows… That’s a lot of size to give up. It’s a great discussion with a lot of things to think about. I just hope that fans and media alike start to fully appreciate the historical level of talent on is latest addition of Lakers championship teams.


  34. The Grizz are in control! Holy smokes, I thought this would be east as pie for the Thunder.


  35. I’ve mentioned before that when the Lakers are clicking, they seem to play a really pretty brand of basketball. Nice and fluid with good ball movement. You think to yourself, man that’s how the game should be played.

    The griz are playing some beautiful basketball right now getting open basket after open basket. Dare I say they’re…Lakeresque? Gulp.


  36. damn, this grizzlies team is so damn awesome…


  37. The grizzlies are legit. z-bo is a beast. they would be a title contender this year if rudy gay was not injured.


  38. Is it me or are the Lakers probably the only team that can match this Randolph-Gasol combo down low? You really don’t see too many teams nowadays who play through their bigs like Memphis does.


  39. Cayucos Surfer May 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Damn, maybe the Pau Gasol trade wasn’t so bad for the grizz after all..

    I don’t think theyll take the series, but you never know, and at least they will wear okc out


  40. Memphis is just about the worst possible matchup for OKC. They don’t turn the ball over or shoot from deep, so they don’t generate easy fastbreak buckets. OKC is not a great halfcourt team.

    At this rate, Durant will need to score 40 or 50 a night, because even when he puts up 30 it is not getting the job done.


  41. Aaron, Horace Grant is right up there with Tim Duncan as one of the greatest defensive PFs ever, especially when the discussion is limited to shutting down your own man. He routinely shut down Karl Malone, Rasheed Wallace, Chris Webber, Duncan, Nowitzki, Garnett, and the other PFs in the West.

    I knew that Memphis was going to be tough for OKC, even without Rudy Gay and OKC having Perkins. Randolph’s low post moves somewhat negate Ibaka’s shotblocking, and Gasol is taller than Perkins and equally strong.


  42. Randolph is an absolute monster.

    I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: this Grizzlies team is playing with the poise of a veteran team, not a unit appearing in the playoffs for the first time. Throughout this game (except for a brief stretch in the middle of the 4th) and throughout the SA series, they’ve been resilient and consistently execute under pressure.

    They certainly understand how to maximize the talents of this big men, and yet complement it with beautiful ball movement and cuts.

    Darius – agreed, and that’s why I think the Celtics TO’s are key – because I don’t think the Heat can score enough against a set Celtics half-court defense.


  43. If dispatching the Spurs wasn’t enough to make you believers, I believe this performance solidifies them. Those kats from Memphis are for real.


  44. @39. Yes, Popovich gets hoisted on his own petard by the players and picks Memphis got in the Gasol trade (Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur, Greivis Vasquez), the players they got with the cap space that trade created (Randolph), plus the higher draft pick they got by being crappy without Pau in 2008 (Mayo). Of course, none of the national commentators mention this, because it goes against the narrative that former Memphis executive Jerry West delivered Pau to the Lakers for nothing in return.


  45. Mike Bibby’s making a late push for Defensive Player of the Year.

    This series will be a lot of ugly offense and grimy defense. At least until Lebron fouls out the entire Celtics starting lineup.


  46. Rondo will have to get Boston’s offense going, because without him it doesn’t look like they can get any sustained run against this Miami defense. Pierce has historically struggled when up against Lebron.