Sebastian Pruiti did a quick breakdown of the Bogut tip-in last night over at NBA Playbook. Again, more than anything, I believe this was just a really, really, really good play by the Bucks. Luc Mbah a Moute’s pass was picture perfect, Brandon Jennings set a great screen and even though Jeff Foster was able to recover and challenge the finish, Andrew Bogut simply elevated and guided the ball through the hoop with precision.
You couldn’t draw it up any prettier. And you probably couldn’t replicate the execution.
Pruiti does take issue with the defensive strategy, however, primarily questioning the team’s decision to not either (a) play zone, or (b) put the 7’2″ Roy Hibbert beneath the hoop to protect the cup.
the Pacers didn’t think it was important to protect the rim with their big man. Jim O’Brien would much rather have him on the basketball trying to bother the pass. Now, I agree with the philosophy of having a big man defending the inbounds pass when it is obvious that the inbounder is going to make a pass to a shooter on the outside. There, a center’s length can bother the pass, cause the pass to be off the mark, and maybe force a miss.
But when it is painfully obvious that there is going to be a lob play (less than 1 second left), why do coaches insist on having their centers play 45 feet away from the rim? Their reasoning is that they want to bother the pass, but do centers really have that much of an effect? Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings both said they practice this play every day, and presumably the same guy is practicing the actual pass over and over, so is a center there really going to effect him? I personally think that a center standing at the rim (remember, because the ball [isn't] in play, defensive three seconds isn’t a factor) bothers the pass more than if he [is] covering the inbounder.
In this situation, I understand why Jim O’Brien would put Foster, a guy who is theoretically the team’s best one-on-one post defender, on Bogut. But with 0.5 seconds left, you do know that they are probably going to try a lob. If the ball is likely headed to the rim, Foster’s better quickness at fighting through screens is less important since Roy could easily just stand closer to the rim and “play the ball” more so than the man. Why not just plant him below the hoop and let Hibbert volleyball spike away any pass that may be headed towards the rim?
Devil’s advocate part two, however, are we really sure that, even this season, Roy can be trusted not to foul there? Foster stayed with Bogut and challenged the shot — he just couldn’t elevate with the Australian. But he did manage not to foul, which is pretty major there.
Ultimately, this is a play that probably won’t work more than 10% of the time simply because everything has to go perfectly. By fouling while trying to protect the rim, you allow them to win the game without everything going perfectly. That would probably be even more heart-breaking. At least this way you can dop your cap to the opponent and say “Fantastic work, sir” rather than kicking yourself.
Also, I have to think that putting a 7’2″ guy in front of the passer can potentially disrupt the pass more so than putting a 6’10” guy in front of him — no matter how many times the guy has practiced the throw in an empty gym. Maybe putting the smaller Solomon Jones on the inbounder has the same effect, but I think it’s just good strategy to put one of your tallest guys on the ball. One more way to help ensure everything doesn’t go perfectly.
I do like the zone idea though, I think.
Maybe next time they can try that.
And then when the inbounds pass goes to a guard on the perimeter and he hits a Derek Fisher-style prayer, we can question the logic of not protecting the outside.
UPDATE: Henry Abbott of TrueHoop talked about this play with basketball smart guy David Thorpe, who was mostly perturbed with the fact that Foster was sticking too close to Bogut even before the screen, as if the proposition of the 7-footer catching and shooting from 18 feet was a big threat.
I called David Thorpe to ask him what he would have had Jeff Foster, Hibbert’s replacement, do on this play. It’s tough to keep a seven-footer like Bogut from getting a hand up by the rim.
His response is that Foster made a glaring error in his starting position, before the ball is even inbounded: “The whole team looks more concerned about the catch-and-shoot. See how they’re hugging their guys, all over the court? The last thing you want to give up is a seven-footer — and not just any seven-footer, but a former top overall pick — at the rim. He’s hugging Bogut 18-feet from the hoop, but what’s the threat there? The real threat is at the rim.”
Foster made himself easy to back-screen, because it was clear the whole time exactly where he would be — attached to Bogut. And the screen prevented him from having the freedom and timing to elevate and meet the ball.
Food for thought.