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.

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