Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dallas Is Not Fast, Still Furious

Dallas defeated Oklahoma City by 9 points on Tuesday night, showing that this series will pit speed against savvy. Dallas fields seven guys over 30 in their nine-man rotation; nearly all of Oklahoma's rotation players are 26 or younger. Note, now, that it is generally true that teams advancing far into the playoffs feature veterans. A stud prospect like Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams is unlikely to lead a playoff contender until his fifth or sixth year, at least; ideally, he will continue to lead teams well into his 30s. Players who star in the playoffs in just their third season, such as Dwyane Wade in '06 or Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook this year, are the exception. If Oklahoma City can defeat the Mavs, I will be surprised.

Observe the video below. Dallas has no answers defensively when the young Thunder players turn on the jets. Witness, for example, Russell Westbrook's mad dash at 0:52 of this video or Durant's one-man fast break to close the first quarter (1:02 of the video).

But Dallas gets its points with expert ball movement rather than raw quicks. Watch the play starting at 1:05 of the video. How does 6'2" shooting guard Jason Terry do so well? First, he often plays against second-string guards, who are either too weak or too inexperienced to adequately check him. (Second, when he plays with Jason Kidd, Kidd matches up against the opponent's taller guard, freeing Terry to excel at both ends.) In this play, Eric Maynor completely forgets about Terry, leaving Terry wide-open for about five seconds before JET receives the ball and launches an easy three-pointer.

At 1:16, watch little J.J. Barea (really) successfully setting a screen against Dirk Nowitzki's defender Nick Collison, freeing Nowitzki to easily receive an inbounds pass and hit a layup. Collison has about 12 inches and 100 pounds on Barea, but he still couldn't get past the smaller guard. Additionally, backup center Nazr Mohammed appears to be wearing army boots, as he is standing directly under the basket yet does nothing to impede Nowitzki's easy bucket.

Kevin Durant shot 18 of 19 from the free-throw line and Dirk Nowitzki shot, improbably, 24 of 24. As described here, the Thunder chose not to double-team Nowitzki, allowing him to repeatedly bust free for big points. OKC will likely lose the series if they continue this approach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really sound analysis.