Pacers vs. Bulls Spiderwebs – Game 5


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

Because spiderwebs operate on percentages of totals, and because Chicago hit a ridiculous 8-for-15 from three point range in Spot Ups, the visual on the chart above wasn’t as striking as I was hoping it would be.  Therefore, I’ll need to direct you to look past the big spike in Spot Ups, and once more at the PnR ballhandler.

Last night, the Chicago Bulls scored 116 points and posted an offensive efficiency of over 124.   They got 15 points out of 13 PnR Ball Handler plays, or about 1.15 PPP.  In the two games in Conseco, their offensive efficiency was less than 99 points per 100.  Take a look at the spiderweb for those games:

From the Game 4 Spiderwebs:

In two games at Conseco Fieldhouse, the Pacers’ defense has completely choked off Chicago’s use of the PnR Ball Handler.  The Bulls have only been able to finish this 22 times, and in those 22 times, only scored five (5) points, or 0.23 PPP.  Couple that with the reduced damage by the Bulls on their offensive glass (31% in Indy vs. 45% in Chicago), and the Pacers have been able to hold the Bulls Offense to less than a point per possession.

Clearly, the Pacers were unable to sustain their defensive success in Game 5.  It’s fair to question whether success against the PnR Ball Handler is a leading or trailing indicator, but future opponents of the Chicago Bulls may want to consider the two spiderwebs to follow.

In Games 1 and 5, Chicago got 13% of their plays out of the PnR Ball Handler and scored 1.18 PPP on them.  They won both games, posting offensive efficiencies of 122.6 and 124.4, respectively.

In Games 2, 3, & 4 of the series, Chicago again got 13% of their plays out of the PnR Ball Handler, but only managed 0.36 PPP.  Their offensive efficiency dropped to 102.0, 102.4, and 97.0, respectively.  They still won two of the three games, but easily could have lost all three.

It’s a small sample size, so it’s far from definitive.  Take it for what it’s worth.

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

Pacers Offense


Over the course of this series, the Pacers have managed only 101.4 points per 100.  However, if you take out Game 1 — which featured a fluky Pacer shooting performance — that drops to 97.8.

I lifted that last sentence almost verbatim from the Game 4 Spiderwebs, updating only the numbers to include Game 5.  Why?  Because it’s basically the offensive story of the series (and maybe overall) for the Pacers.  The Bulls have a great defense, the Pacers have – at best – a mediocre offense.  Put the two together, and…

Where the defense was encouraging in this series, the offense was thoroughly discouraging.  Danny Granger (21.6 ppg, .522 eFG%) picked up his game, and an argument could be made that Danny’s performance in a 1-4 losing series with these kind of offensive numbers only serves to underscore that he cannot carry a playoff team.  The big problems will need a more thorough and lengthy discussion, which we will have later, but we can touch on them now.

First, as I mentioned in the last spiderwebs (and ad nauseum elsewhere), the Pacers have no “offense.”  Which is to say that they do not have a system and playbook with a coherent flow of options.  With the exception of a few vestiges of the O’Brien’s thoroughly failed motion offense, almost everything is an incredibly simplistic one-option set.  You can do this if (a) you have execution of merciless precision or (b) you have talent that can overwhelm the defense.  The Pacers have neither, and Vogel or his replacement will have to find a happy medium between the overly complicated O’Brien offense and the crudely primitive offense run over the last three months.  One that will perform much better than either.

Second, the Pacers have no reliable post presence.  To be specific neither Roy Hibbert nor Tyler Hansbrough were capable of being the “hub of the wheel,” and honestly, I don’t think either ever will be.  Hansbrough came a long way this year, but he will always be undersized, and that will always be a detriment to his back-to-the-basket game.

Hibbert, well, we’ve talked about before.  In the Chicago series, the Pacers got 46 plays out of the post, scoring 39 points and turning the ball over seven times.  Twenty nine of those plays were to Roy, but only 17 points came out of those 29 plays.  In the 17 non-Hibbert post opportunities – mostly Danny and Tyler – the Pacers scored 22 points.  Roy was responsible for four of the seven turnovers.

Limiting the offensive issues to these two items is reductionist, but as we go into the summer, it’s an area of significant concern for the Pacers.  They’ll need a better plan of attack, more offensive firepower, or probably both if they want anything more than moral victories in future playoffs.

In any case, I’ll once again leave you with the series-to-date spiderwebs for the Pacer Offense.

Please see Jared’s recap for a full discussion of Game 5.

Tags: Spiderwebs

  • Ian

    i’m agreeing with you about hibbert and, to a lesser extent, hansborough. i think collison, granger, and collison are all capable to developing into a good core nucleus. hibbert, i’m afraid, i don’t think

    what are the odds of looking at tyson chandler or nene in free agency?

  • http://www.eightpointsnineseconds.com Tim Donahue

    I think we’ll look at them, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to get them. Nene has been my ideal Center for some time now, I just wasn’t sure how to get him. I had hoped that once Denver had traded Melo, they might go fire sale, but they actually got stronger. I’d chase him – either via Free Agency or Sign & Trade.

    Chandler is another guy to consider, but he’s a little more concerning. If the Pacers were able to acquire Nene, then the Pacers could look for another good, solid starter. However, if they picked up Chandler, then they’d still need to bring in another scorer.

    I also like Marc Gasol, but the problems with all the guys I like is that other people are going to like them, too, and it will make it tough for the Pacers to get.

    It seems to me that the best opportunity to get value would be through an “unbalanced” trade – one where we take on a lot more salary than we send out. However, that can’t happen until after the new CBA is signed, which could be a very long time off.

    I think Hansbrough is fine as a player. My only point here is that he can’t be expected to be a primary post option. That would be unfair to him. During the offseason, he needs to work on being able to hit that jump shot with somebody challenging, as well as putting the ball on the floor and being able to either pull up or get all the way to the rim when he’s challenged.

    Honestly, I’m open to trading anybody, but it would take a lot (like ridiculous offers) for me to think trading Granger or George is a good idea. With Danny, it’s too hard to trade him without it ending up being a zero sum trade. In other words, you’re most likely to get someone of roughly equivalent value, which doesn’t really advance the cause.

    With George, he’s just the guy with the most potential to do something, and he’s on a rookie contract. The point of those is to allow a team to develop a player and see what they’ve got. The Pacers should explore that with George, unless some fantastical dream scenario occurs where you have to include him as part of a larger package to land a Chris Paul or Dwight Howard-type player. Since that’s exceedingly unlikely, you’re better off just keeping him and seeing what you’ve got.

  • Ian

    i didn’t include gasol because by all account it seems he’ll be staying with the grizzlies. but otherwise you and i are pretty much on the same mind with nene especially. i’d rather have him than chandler because of the a. aforementioned lack of offense and b. his injury past. still i wouldn’t mind at least looking at him and seeing how much he’d be

    with hansborough i just feel he’s too limited physically to be a starting PF on a good team. he’s just ideally a good bench guy. but hey, i didn’t see his game 1 against the bulls or that stretch of 20+ points a game coming, so i would love to be proven wrong with him

    also spot on with granger and george. everyone’s open for trade in my mind but those two are the ones i’d be most resistant to part with

  • Fan

    No way we trade Hibbert! If he keeps up his rate of improvement the two of you are going to be eating your words. Would love to see him pick up some more lbs and play “bigger”, and i think we will see him do just that. Plus he adds sooo much to the personality of the team. His attitude makes me feel like I’m cheering for a passionate team of college students playing every game in March Madness (as compared to cheering for a bunch of lifeless proffessional mercinaries).

    Also, what’s up with this lack of faith in The Hans? Seriously? The dude is RELENTLESS! Hans, more than the rest, exemplified what Vogel calls smash mouth basketball. AND he has only played 1.5 years.

    I’ll be sad if/when WE trade anyone currently on OUR roster. Wouldn’t be surprised if the starting 5 that ended this season are the starting 5 going into next season’s playoffs.

  • Timmy

    Tim, your article is enlightening, as always.

    FAN, I love your spirit, but I’d rather watch a royal wedding in its entirety on the BBC than watch the same 5 players start next year. Yeah, they played their hearts out in the first 4 games…but that’s just nuts.

    Seriously, what I took from the series is the fact that Granger looked like he was a gamer. He shot better in the playoffs than the regular season, had more rebounds per game than in the regular season, and got more assists too – against a great defense. He was cool under pressure, and grew as a leader. I say we keep this guy and get him some offensive help.

    Roy’s not the guy to help out Danny. If he were more aggressive (generally) and quicker to decide what to do when he got the ball, I’d be fine with his faults. I understand he’s not going to have the “get the hell out of my lane” attitude that Foster has, but we should be seeing some more aggressiveness and decisiveness in the direction of the rim on offense. It seemed that even when he tried to make a more aggressive move, he was often too slow getting in position and then would get a charging foul. We need a center who can shoot over .500, and Roy hasn’t done that.

  • Michael

    Fan – That’s why you are a fana nd not a GM. You must be a pretty casual fan at that if you think this same team can compete next year. Hibbert improved some from the year before but that’s not saying a whole lot. Unless he can get stronger, he’s never going to be the low post option the Pacers need. When a 7+ foot center is getting repeatedly boxed out and blocked at the rim, you have some issues. He’s starting to remind me a lot of Shawn Bradley. (I think i just threw up in my mouth a little bit.) Lanky big man who can’t hold his own in the paint.

    I’d like a Gasol trade. It seems to me like Nene might be a product of his environment. I haven’t seen him play a ton, but is he really a go-to scorer? I’ve always thought of him as a guy who can rebound and get 5-6 putbacks a game with a good 10-15 foot jumper. Not someone with a dominant post game.

    What are some of the other options the Pacers have via trade? The free agent market looks pretty weak. So I assume our damage will be done by trades. I’m just too lazy to try to do any research.

  • the ‘fro of dr. dunk

    As I read the reactions after the series, I am seemingly in the minority (not just here, everywhere) that keeps saying that Roy will get better. To those that don’t agree: what do you base your assumption on – that is Roy has hit his ceiling and won’t get any better? I am really curious to hear the reasons. He’s a long term project and I expect him to reach his ceiling at the time he’s around 28-29. Everything points in that direction. The kid never took massive leaps between seasons. Still, slowly but surely he’s getting there. I understand the frustration people might get watching him play, sometimes I feel like I’m watching a Star Wars movie with a big walker in the middle trying hard to run up and down the court in the clumsiest way possible :) Yet, he’s running up and down and I never even dreamt about that when he first came to the league. I’m asking the elder here (living in Europe, I only got to start watching ball around the mid 90′s); can his situation be compared to Smits’ earlier years ? Didn’t he get better year after year? After all, he ended up as a starter on a contender team – do you think Roy might not be able to ever do that? Was Smits that much better talent-wise? I may be wrong but I think Roy has a chance to be a much much better defender than Smits was with a slightly worse offensive game than Smits’.

    I think that Bird would only offload Roy now if a, he got a ridiculously lopsided offer in our favor b, it became painfully obvious that Roy is not the answer, which I don’t think can be said now when there is still time and room to grow. I’d rather he stays and gets better, the work ethic is there. Larry needs to get a true banger, a force at the 4 (who occasionally may play at 5), let Tyler play around 25 mins off the bench and I think you are set. Yes, I do believe that we’re one player away from having a reliable front court. Listening to Bird yesterday made me believe that this is what he will aim for and I couldn’t be happier about it.

  • Timmy

    You compare Roy to Rik Smits. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison, as the Pacers took Smits with the #2 pick in the draft. Maybe we are too hard on Roy, and he is more a developmental player.

    Smits’ stats improved for 2 reasons. The Pacers had a huge upgrade in their coach (Larry Brown), after a year of absolute chaos and several years of mediocrity. The Pacers also got Derrick McKey and the Davis Brothers which really helped the team be tougher inside and get rebounds. With improved players around him, he flourished. Obviously, Roy needs more help inside right now.

    Thing is, I don’t remember Rik having any mental collapses. He was Rik when the team was horrible, and he was Rik when the team was great, no matter the coach. I’m not sure Larry Brown ever said a positive thing about anybody (remember Jim O’Brien?), ever. Roy’s game was collapsing during the season at one point (many tried to blame O’Brien for this one, and I thought he was a bit harsh on Roy too), and he wasn’t exactly inspiring to watch during most of the playoffs. Coach Vogel has been great for Roy’s confidence, no doubt. But Roy complained about his teammates to the media – in the middle of the series – about not getting him the ball in the right place! Really? I guess the shots that he missed (and were blocked) from point-blank range were his teammates’ fault as well. I think it’s that kind of stuff that drives me and other people crazy about Roy.

    Smits would have struggled in this series as well if he were in Roy’s shoes – Chicago is a great defensive team. But Rik would have at least been a viable option to score in the end of the 4th quarter – which is what this team needed. I think you are undervaluing Smits’ ability as a defender and overvaluing Roy’s as well. Smits was hurt a lot, and that really was a problem for the Pacers. Roy’s offense is not slightly worse than Rik’s, it’s substantially worse. Rik did not turn the ball over as much and he didn’t miss as many shots as Roy.

    I think everyone’s just desperately wanting more consistent play on offense – that’s why we are focusing on trading Roy.

  • Fan

    Timmy, I taped BBC’s coverage of the royal wedding for you. Next season when these 5 are starting, I’ll send you a copy.

    Michael, we all know the story on the first Grizzly Gasol brother. I doubt they would make the same mistake with little brother. When Mem was considering trading OJ, they were trading out of their depth. Mem gonna take a solid C for a project? NO WAY.

    Don’t let yourselves be deceived… There is WAY more demand for legit a C than there is supply. Sure, maybe the Pacers trade for a Dale Davis like bash brother to add some more grit to our front court, a role player. No way we just go and buy a franchise center.

    If anything I am more encouraged that the Pacers ran with Chicago like they did while Hibbert was floundering. To me it shows that George and Hibbert could put Pacers over the top with their work over this off season with minimal change through trade, FA, or draft. (the other fellas got to, and will improve as well, I just think that George and Hibbert are furthest from their ceiling and have the most ground to make in the shortest time)

  • Tad

    FAN – We have more than $30 million in cap room and we’re going to keep the same starting lineup from a below .500 team. Huh? Isn’t the whole point of this cap room to get better. I think you must be the kind of guy who would rather have a Kia than a Bentley, but apparently wouldn’t mind spending Bentley money for the Kia. That’s insane!

  • Michael

    Fan, they won’t be able to afford all those guys. Gay, Mayo, Conley’s ridiculous contract and now Randolph. Gasol is going to demand 12-15 milllion. Something’s gotta give. Pacers have the money. And like Tad said, why not spend it! We’ve been waiting for this summer to come!

  • Fan

    Besides Granger our other starters are on their rookie contracts… those will need renewing in the next couple years, so take some off the top of $30mil. We might actually resign one or more of those guys who are coming off the books, so take some more off the top of $30mil. Plus trades have to match salary within a certain percent to clear. Sure, that wouldn’t matter if we get free agents, and i don’t know how a sign and trade effects the percentage rules. But I don’t think it is gonna be as easy as everyone is thinking it is gonna be.

    Tad, I’m the kind of guy who would like to pay Kia $$ to have a Bentley… though I would prefer an Aston to a Bentley. What I’m saying is that we’ve already got a Bentley. These fellas are young, and once broken in they will be all we need. Sure add one free agent starter and a role player, whatever. But our core is set.

    ps. If Lance gets his act together… WOW! Love watching that dude play.