Pacers vs. Bulls Spiderwebs - Game 2


As a supplement to the playoff game recaps, we’re going to post Synergy “spiderwebs.” This will show the offensive distribution in plays and points for each team. The data is provided by the fantastic site mySynergySports. Hopefully, it will help us understand each team’s approach, as well as what worked and what didn’t.

Click here for others in the series.

Bulls Offense


The complexion of Monday night’s game was considerably different than Saturday’s.  In the series opener, the two teams combined for a .500 eFG% and 239 points per 100 possessions.  Monday night, these numbers dropped to .434 eFG% and 198 points per 100.   In 18 more possessions, the two teams scored 17 fewer points.

The Bulls’ offense was largely a train wreck.  A good portion of that was due to the Pacer strategy to try to force the ball out of Derrick Rose’s hands — primarily by using rookie Paul George to bother him with his length, coupled with aggressive trapping using McRoberts and Hansbrough.  However, some of Chicago’s wounds were self-inflicted.

There are times where — either by design or defect — Rose gives the ball up too early and too easily, and is not heard from again during the possession.  It also seemed that their first half offensive game plan was more a of fluffing exercise for Carlos Boozer.

The biggest sign of offensive incoherence for the Bulls was the volume of plays classified by Synergy as “Other.”  I generally translate this as, “This play bears no resemblance to any basketball play we’ve seen or heard of.  There may have been drugs and/or alcohol involved.”  There were 14 of these last night for Chicago, or about 12% of their total offense — a little less than twice the normal percentage.  They generated 10 points, but they also generated seven turnovers, or about a third of their total miscues.

Beyond that, the script flipped from Game 1 regarding isolations and PnRs, with Chicago running more PnRs, but scoring more out of isos.  All in all, the more scrambling “Other” plays the Pacers defense can force, the better.  However, last night they “separated” Rose from the offense.

In effect, Indiana forced the Bulls into two offenses:  one where Rose scored, and one where they played without him.  The latter is extremely easy to defend and creates a lot of wasted possessions for Chicago.  The more the Pacers can do this, the less effective the Bulls Offense will be.

For reference, here is the series-to-date spiderweb for the Chicago Offense.

Pacers Offense

There was a dramatic change in the Pacer spiderweb from Game 1 to Game 2, but it’s difficult to tell how much was design, and how much was necessity.  When starting point guard Darren Collison went out with an ankle injury late in the first half, so did much of their iso and PnR-Ballhandler offense.

The offense migrated to the bottom of chart, where the motion-style cuts, off-screens, and spot ups reside.  You can particularly see the activity of Jeff Foster (Cuts) and Mike Dunleavy (Off Screen) here.

But while I agree with mellifluous’ sentiments from the other day (see comments on this post) that the Pacers relied too heavily on isos in the first game, the numbers show that this isn’t a recipe for awesome offense  I (and many others) had predicted a drop off in Pacer shooting, and it happened.  Their eFG% from beyond 15 feet returned to a more normal .442 (Source: Hoopdata), the TOV% almost doubled (.098 to .161), and their offensive efficiency dropped to 95.7.  However, the FT/FGA was back up to a respectable .260.

They’ll have to keep dialing this in.   This spiderweb looks more sustainable and is more similar to Vogel’s regular season offense than Game 1 did.

However, the post is still a big problem.   Again, the Pacers were able to only get seven (7)  of their 105 plays out of the post, and those were largely a disaster.  They generated only four points and two turnovers.  In Roy Hibbert’s five post plays, he was 1-for-4 with a turnover.  That’s simply not enough.

In any case, I’ll leave you with the series-to-date spiderwebs for the Pacer Offense.  I’m off to a sports bar.

Please see Jared’s recap for a full discussion of Game 2.

Tags: Spiderwebs

  • http://sportstatistics.blogspot.com/ Leffty

    The Bulls looked really vulnerable both games in Chicago. Now that the series is moving to Indy, the Pacers have a chance to do some damage. They’ve been shooting a better percentage than the Bulls, they just have to work harder on the boards. Granger also needs to step up and act like a superstar for once in a big game. He’s been putting up pedestrian numbers so far. Check out the stats:

    http://sportstatistics.blogspot.com/2011/04/nba-playoffs-night-three.html

  • LP

    Kinda random… Given Chi superb half court defense it seems safe to say that the Pacers would like to create more transition opportunities and keep the pace of the game high. It makes sense that a long rebound into the hands of a guard chill’n out on the 3pt line or a steal could turn into a solid transition opportunity. However, I’m wondering how many “transition” opportunities were created after Chi had just previously made a basket (in other words, Pacers had to inbounds ball and give Chi a head start on getting back for defense)?? An example I can think of from last night is actually the play that “Collision” got injured on. Chi drained a shot, McRoby or Hip-Hip-for-Roy inbounded the pass to Collision who buzzed down the length of the court to drain his layup before anyone but Rose had an opportunity to get back on D. Does that count as transition? And what % of transition opportunities start from steals/long rebounds/made shots??

  • LP

    ps. i love when Chi (or any other team) makes a basket, and within 3 seconds Collision runs the full length of the court and puts up an “easy” layup. he can single handedly destroy any hope of momentum for the other team with plays like that. Reminds me of Billups and Parker (when they still had their legs).

    Come back soon, DC.

  • Timmy

    Tim, I love your translation of the offensive category of play called “other.” I’m still laughing. I am also very unimpressed watching the Bulls. This team is in trouble. I can’t imagine the Pacers actually winning this series, but Chicago is going nowhere far during this playoff season. The Pacers have the winning recipe, but they just don’t look like they can cook it long enough. A team with one guy who can score in the last 3 minutes will send the Bulls home. Maybe I’m wrong, and the Bulls just have zero respect for the Pacers and they can’t seem to play hard until the last few minutes, but that’s a bad sign for them either way.

    I don’t know what to expect, or what to think of this series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pacers blow out the Bulls at home…or blow a 22 point lead in the 4th quarter and lose.