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.

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