If you want more of an instant reaction with deeper analysis to the Lakers game 1 loss to the Rockets, please give a listen to our LFR Pod recap that went up earlier today. Pete and I went long on what the Rockets were doing to get the Lakers out of sorts, our issues with playing Rondo as much as Vogel decided to, and some things we’d like to see moving forward into game 2 (and for the rest of the series).
Nearly 24 hours later, I still have more to say though. Lucky, I have a blog that’s all mine so I can do whatever I want. With that, after watching clips of all LeBron’s shots earlier today, a small thing became completely obvious and I’m hoping the Lakers make this small adjustment to make LeBron’s life easier whenever he has the ball on the wing.
When LeBron has the ball, regardless of who is in the game with him, but particularly when JaVale and Dwight are in the game, I hope to see them sink deeper back into the dunker’s spot than they did in game 1. Here’s some pictures to illustrate what I mean.
Look at AD’s position here:
Now compare that to Dwight’s positioning here:
Now, again, look at AD here:
Now, look at JaVale here:
In both of the pictures with AD deeper in the dunker’s spot along the baseline, LeBron drove for layup attempts. In the 1st pic he converted and got a layup. On the second, he back rimmed an attempt but did so without any help defender challenging him. In the pics with Dwight/JaVale, LeBron settled for a long jumper.
The reason why is clear.
When the big man hovers near the lane line, he allows his defender to more easily step into the paint to deter drives by being in better help position earlier. When the big is farther back like AD is, not only is that rotation harder, but going to the paint begins the countdown for illegal defense via the 3-second rule.
And because the recovery back to their man is so far (again, go back and look at how far AD is from the paint), the ability to show help legally while also deterring a drive diminishes because once that defender vacates the paint to get back to his man is exactly when Bron is going to begin his drive.
LeBron will need to play better than he did in the rest of this series if the Lakers are going to win. As I’ve said over and over, this is a series where LeBron will need to score and score big. But, to do that, he needs his teammates to help him in obvious and some less than obvious ways.
On the latter, that means simply finding ways to position themselves on the floor to provide optimal spacing. And that won’t always mean standing behind the 3 point line. Particularly when you’re a big man. The Rockets aren’t going to respect you out there anyway and the gravity you possess as a vertical lob threat is what’s going to occupy your man.
This may not be the biggest adjustment in the world, but I do think it can be a meaningful one.