Sunday, January 5, 2014

Jurassic Frank

Check out this recap of the Pacers loss to the Toronto Raptors on 8 Points, 9 Seconds.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

SAW: NBA Edition

Inspired by Adam Reisinger's Tweet, Dorkballer proudly gives you...

Jason Kidd: Wha... What I am I doing here?

Jason, chained to a pipe, looks around and finds a recorder, presses play.

Jigsaw: Jason, this is your wake-up call. You keep on telling your players they don't have the will to win. However, the question is: Do you?
If you want to win. You have to kill your colleague...

Kidd looks across the room.

Kidd: What's the last thing you remember?

Mike Woodson: Nothing! I went to work at my terribly, crappily ran franchise, and I woke up in an actual craphole.

Kidd: What did he tell you?

Woodson: Same thing he told you...

Woodson presses play on his recorder 

Jigsaw: If either of you want to win... you will have to true you truly value your job...
If one of you kills the other, I will give you a winning game plan... Remember, X marks the spot... You have until the trade deadline.

Kidd: No.

Woodson: I'm not going to die.

Kidd: Neither am I... there has to be another way out...

Both men look between them.

Woodson: Is that a gun?

Kidd: Yes. I can see something else, but can't quite tell what it is.

Both men look at each other, before looking around the room for anything to help them.

Woodson: I found this saw when I woke up. It was behind the pipes.

Kidd looks around him. Kidd finds a saw on his end as well, hidden in a toilet, wrapped in a towel.

Kidd: This isn't going to make it through metal...

Woodson:  He doesn't want us to cut through our chains. He wants us to cut through our feet!

Kidd: What are we going to do?

Woodson: Use the towel, try to see if you can get the something off the body.

Kidd tries several times, before knocking the other object to Kidd. It is a cell phone. Before Kidd can make a call, the phone rings. The caller ID says Mikhail Prokhorov.

Prokhorov: JASON! They have me held hostage! They said that you would save me! They said if you didn't do in in time, I'd have to hire Isaiah Thomas!

The phone goes dead.

Woodson: Jason, calm down. There must be a way out of this!

Kidd: I can’t be calm! My team needs me! No, God! 

Woodson:  Jason, I have a team too! I don’t win, that’s my mistake. It’s a mistake I’d  like to fix!

Kidd gets his shirt off, down to a plain white tee shirt underneath. He starts to wrap one end around his chained up foot and ties it off. Woodson realizes what he is preparing to do, completely loses it and freaks out, screaming.

Kidd holds the other end of the shirt in his mouth, biting it for a brace. The look in his eyes is one of complete madness and desperation. He takes up the hacksaw in his right hand, puts it against his ankle and starts to saw into his foot while Woodson begins to scream in complete horror. 

Kidd now has sawed off his foot. He crawls to the body in the middle, and kinds the gun empty, but finds one bullet in an envelope.

Woodson: What are you doing?

Kidd loads the bullet.

Woodson: No! Jason, please! I'm begging you! Jason, it's not me who did this to you!

Kidd: You have to die.

Woodson: No! I want to live!

Kidd: I'm sorry...

Woodson: I want to live!

Kidd: My team... [shoots Woodson] There! I did it! Now show them to me! I've done it! (Cries)

The door slides open, and a bewildered Randy Wittman enters. 

As Kidd asks, Wittman begins to pull out a gun and aim towards Kidd.

Kidd: You! I’ll kill you! You bastard! I’ll kill you!

Wittman: You think I wanted to do this? HE MADE ME DO IT.

Wittman checks Woodson’s body. Thinking him dead.

Wittman: You’re too late.

Kidd: Why?

Wittman aims the gun at Kidd.

Wittman: It’s the rules.

Before Wittman can fire, a merely injured Woodson springs to life. A scuffle ensures and it looks like Wittman has the upper hand as he pins Woodson to the floor, but Kidd grabs the lid of the toilet he was chained to and smashes it over Wittman's head, killing him.

Kidd: (his voice very weak and shaky) You’re going to be all right. You’re just wounded in the shoulder.

Woodson: Don't leave me! (grasping Kidd, begging.) 

Kidd nods, but crawls to door. Woodson reaches for him as he turns himself around and away.

Woodson: No!! (he keeps crying) No! No!

Kidd crawls towards the door.

Kidd: Don’t...Don’t worry, I’ll bring someone back. I promise.

Kidd continues to crawls out the door while Woodson watches him pathetically, reaching out.

Jigsaw: I'm sick of people who don’t appreciate their blessings.

Kidd looks around, and sees the body in the middle of the room moving, getting up, and walking towards the door.

Jigsaw: Most people are so ungrateful to coach. But not you, not anymore.

Jigsaw pulls off a mask...


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Friday, December 20, 2013

Foul Play: Miami takes advantage of Pacers big man's absence

The folks over at 8 Points, 9 Seconds gave me the chance to post my thoughts on the way the Heat's offense goes at the Pacers' defense. I was very thankful for the chance. Thank you in particular to Jared Wade.

Click on the link to see what I had to say, and check out 8 Points, 9 Seconds.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NONE SHALL PASS: Roy Hibbert's Effect on the Heat Offense

One does not simply walk into the paint.
Perhaps more accurately, one does not simply drive into the paint when it is occupied by Roy Hibbert.

That was the case on Tuesday night as Hibbert and the rest of the Pacers kept the Heat from doing what they love most and the Pacers came out with a 90-84 win.

The Heat like to shoot just over 41 percent of their shots within eight feet of the basket making around 65 percentage of them. Only problem Tuesday was that's where Hibbert likes to play. We know that the bigger Miami guys like Chris Bosh, Rashard Lewis, Birdman and Shane Battier have to deal with Hibbert in the post, but how does the rest of the team deal with Indiana's big man. The scheme and personnel of Indiana contribute to the defensive effort, no doubt. But look at the season averages versus what Miami did on Tuesday night, and you might expect Hibbert had something to do with the lack of efficiency by the Heat.

PlayerDrives vs INDPoints on Drives vs INDPercentage vs INDSeason Average Drive Per GameSeason Average PPG on DrivesSeason Average Percentage on Drives
LeBron James9211%
Dwyane Wade6217%5.63.454.5%
Mario Chalmers9422%4.82.548.6%
Norris Cole3466%41.748.6%
Ray Allen100%2.81.870% defines a drive as any touch that starts at least 20 feet of the hoop and is dribbled within 10 feet of the hoop and excludes fast breaks.

The Heat have three players in the top 50 in drives per a game, and two more in the top 100, but when they tried to go to the basket, it wasn't working against the Pacers. LeBron 
tried to take the ball to the rack more than usual, but only got one basket on those drives.
Only Norris Cole shot above his average, but the rest were noticeably below. Considering the fact Roy boasts a league best 39.7 average for opponents field goal percentage at the rim. We all know how good Hibbert is at defending the rim, but when they are driving at him, especially when Roy isn't in foul trouble, that would seem to play right into the Pacers game plan. It should be noted that too that LeBron, Wade, and Chalmers all help create points for their teammates when they drive. Respectively when they drive, they help create 6.4, 7, and 5.3 team points for a game. It wasn't as easy for them or their teammates to get points off their drive like they usually do.

Obviously this is only one game, and we are running it back on Wednesday in Miami, but it will be interesting to see how the Heat approach Hibbert as the season wears on.

The Heat are hoping Greg Oden can maybe change up the Pacers approach when they play, but until we see him play, that's a very big if. 

Until then, the Heat better find a way to deal with Roy Hibbert's verticality. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Pacers are playing outta their minds right now

“We want to step away from that shadow as the ‘little brothers’ of this division,” Paul George told “Their success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It’s ours till they take it.”
Baby steps Indiana, baby steps. (or Baby Dragons, if you ask Jason Whitlock
Yes, it is early, but the Pacers have clearly taken care of business so far. They beat the teams they should beat every time, and they passed the first test of the season. (Grade: A) It is a young season and plenty of things will happen between Game 5 and Game 82, but the Pacers are monsters at the moment. 
At the moment, being the key word. 
Before we start talking about what's down the road for the Pacers, let's look at where they've been.

A year ago, the Pacers were 2-3 at this point, and I was cursing be decision to purchase NBA League Pass. There wins were over the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings, and neither looked pretty while they got destroyed 101-79 by the San Antonio Spurs. Roy Hibbert looked like he took the money on his deal and hadn't practiced since. Paul George was the future, but the future looked no more than slightly above average. Obviously the Pacers grew into a team that challenged the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, but they didn't look like much of a team until late in the season.

So what has changed in Indiana?
Well, with the caveat that these are small sample sizes, let's take a look.

Paul George is playing like a monster.
Paul George through five games
25.8 points per a game, 48.3 field goal percentage, 44.4 percent from three. 8.2 rebounds, 4 assists per a game. PER of 27.17.
He's actually shooting more from range than at the basket, which is working well so far for him as he's the league's third leading scorer.  Looking at his shot performance, he's doing no worse than average from any part of the court with smart shot selection. He has no hesitation when he pulls up for three pointers, but is still working his way to the basket more than he did last year. Last year he had eight free throws attempts through give games. This year he's averaging 6.4 per a game. Let's hold up superstar talk, but he's certainly updating his resume so far this season. I hate to try to talk about intangibles because I'm not talking to Paul George or watching enough to really guess what his mindset really is, but he looks more aggressive and confident than ever. He looked great in the ECF, but now he looking like and playing like he's one of the league's best. We'll see how long he keeps this going because right now he's playing at a career high level. Even if these numbers fall slightly, he's still showing he's making his way up the chart of the league's best players.

But what else is going on in Indiana so far? What is so different about this year's team that is off to a franchise best 5-0 start.

Roy Hibbert isn't playing like crap, and he's averaging 5.2 blocks a game. rebounding slightly better than last year, and playing better defense even if his offense is slightly down. The Pacers run through the playoffs has earned him the reputation as an elite defender, and so far he's averaging one less foul even with the bad Pelicans game as far as foul trouble.  We'll see, but so far it looks like he's getting the benefit of a doubt when he goes to block shots. He has worked on using the NBA's rule of verticality well. When 12.5 percent of plays end in a Hibbert block, their opponents defense isn't going to do very well.
Opponents are shooting under 30 percent at the rim with Hibbert there. It certainly a team effort as the wings help force opponents into bad situations, but those numbers are ridiculous. 

Lance Stephenson a year ago was an unknown commodity, even to Pacers fans. He had 35 points through five games and wasn't starting until the seventh game of the season.
This year?
16.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.6 AST, .470 FG% .538 3P%
Like many of the Pacers we saw him grow in the playoffs and right now he, like PG and Hibbert, are playing out of their minds right now. It was natural to expect progression out of this team, but all of this so far has been rather amazing. Lance was a starter for most of last year, but was still a very raw player. Even when he slumped against the Bulls in the first half, he wasn't slacking off on defense or anything. he played through and shot out of it like a good player should. He's been part of the success that maybe hasn't gotten enough attention. We knew Paul George was slated for a break out year and Hibbert was a good interior defender, but Lance so far was somewhat unexpected. He had grown certainly, but I didn't expect him to be a player who was going to start to draw defenders away from the basket like he's going to if he keeps this up. He still drives it to the basket hard and finishes well, but if he can hit a couple of threes a game, and right now he's a 2.8, he's going to help the Pacers offense spread out opposing defenses. 

Lastly, the bench is no longer go awful that the sight of Tyler Hansbrough, D.J. Augustine and Gerald Green checking in made coach Frank Vogel cry, knowing any lead the Pacers might have had was about to put down like Old Yeller, but in a more violent, snuff film fashion.
This year, we've even seen C.J. Watson has been able to hold down the point with George Hill taking time off to heal. Indiana's bench is now average, but that's an improvement. If nothing else mentally the Pacers, or at least their fans can know their bench isn't the 29th in +/-. Last year Tyler Hansbrough was the only Indiana bench player with a double-digit PER. This year only Hill, Ian Mahinmi, and Luis Scola have PER's under 10. The league average is 15. I'm not counting Chris Copeland and Rasual Butler because they've played less than 5 minutes. 
Again, small sample sizes, but this bench is showing itself to be a definite improvement so far.

Needless to say, we should expect some regression and low points as the year wears on. All these numbers are amazing and the best of these players careers right now for the most part, so that's natural. But what it is showing is that some of the players individual ceilings might be higher than expected.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oh you didn't know? Trying to shoot over Roy Hibbert is a terrible idea

At this pace, Roy Hibbert will have 574 blocks this season...

...assuming he plays 82 games he will smash Mark Eaton's record 5.6 BPG (456 total) by 118 blocks.

Needless to say, Hibbert won't keep up this pace (career average 1.8 BPG) but it only reminds me that Roy Hibbert is one of the best centers in the league when it comes to forcing defenders into misses (Opponents are shooing 26.3 percent at the rim against him.). The Magic shot just 45.16 percent from the restricted area, a zone they shot over 60 percent from last year.
Obviously one game is a small sample size, but that's all we have to go off of right now, and the Pacers did exactly what they needed to do. Another note would be that's not all Hibbert: That's the force of nature that is the bigs of Indiana. The starting center and forwards of Orlando went 10-29, a 34.5 percentage. Ouch.
Orlando's Shot Performance Vs. Indiana 10/30/13

While the paint isn't the best place to attack the Pacers from Indiana did a great job making sure Orlando was pedestrian from the rest of the court as well, save the left corner three. Last season we saw that it's hard to do more than a 50 percent performance against the Pacers defense with no real liabilities on the floor and a system that encourages crashing the boards without giving up transition baskets. That doesn't look to have changed between this year. Considering you have 7'2" Hibbert, 6'9" David West, and even a 6'8" Paul George finding one way or another to make opposing shooters lives a living hell, it isn't entirely surprising. Yes it was Orlando but anytime you keep a team below their normal average, you are doing something right. Also consider the fact that Indiana didn't force the Magic to shoot any differently than they did last year, they had them to take the same shots but with worse results.

The Pacers playing good defense is no surprise. They won, but for a team that thinks it is going to win the title this year, they are going to have to be more efficient. The Pacers were outscored in the second quarter and went into halftime trailing. Going 8 of 18 and turning the ball over 11 times is no way to go through life son.  On the plus side, George was more efficient than last year finishing at the bucket and shooting threes, but let's wait one, two, or ten games before making any bold proclamations. West actually didn't finish well around the rim but Lance Stephenson showed some improvement.

Just one game. But one win.