The Pacers look for win #3 tonight as the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town. In an odd scheduling quirk, both Cleveland and Indy have faced the same opponents this season – Detroit and Toronto. That might make these spiderwebs a little more meaningful, or they may not. Worth looking at in any case.
Cleveland’s offense appears very simple – PnRs, Spot Ups, Transition – and it’s been pretty effective thus far. As of this morning, the 116 points per 100 possessions the Cavs have mustered is the best in the association. They will be the first team that Indiana has faced that has made much use of the Screener in PnR situations, and they are by far the best offensive rebounding team the Pacers have had as an opponent.
Defensively, the Cavs are less impressive, but that’s a mixed bag. They were fairly torched on their home court by the Raptors, but pretty much shut down the Pistons in Detroit Wednesday night. What really jumps out to me on their spiderweb is Transition.
Through two games, Cleveland has only allowed seven points on 14 Transition opportunities, holding their opponents to 30% shooting from the floor. This made me check three things: their shooting, their offensive rebounding, and their turnovers. As suspected, they proved very good in two of those three categories. The Cavs’ .529 eFG% is good for third in the league, and by pulling down over 35% of the rebounds at their offensive end, they are currently the top offensive rebounding team in the league.
This will be an interesting matchup tonight, full of opportunities. First let’s look at the Pacer Offensive end:
Like Toronto’s in the last game, Cleveland’s defense has not faced a team that attacks the post the way the Pacers do. This should be a great opportunity for the Indiana bigs – Roy Hibbert, David West, and Tyler Hansbrough. Also, while the Cavs are excellent on the offensive glass, they have been weak on their defensive backboards. They’ve controlled only a tick over 70% of the rebounds at their defensive end, and this is an area where the Pacers (ranked 5th in ORB% at over 33%) may be able to exploit.
If Indiana wants to continue to score in transition, then they’ll need to control their defensive glass. The Pacers have done well there so far getting 77% of those opportunities.
At the defensive end, the key will be for the Pacers to handle PnRs and control the defensive glass. As mentioned earlier, this will be the first test for Indiana in dealing with the ball going to the screener out of PnRs. The Pacers will have to rotate crisply and quickly to cut off those opportunities, and still keep the Cavs away from the offensive glass.
There are no real “must win” games in the NBA until late in the season, but there are games that you will regret losing later. This is one of them for Indiana. With a road-heavy January, the Pacers would hate to leave this one on the table.