OK, so … what is it now?
The Milwaukee Bucks When Phoenix Suns Having played in the NBA Finals last season, the teams were eager to come back in June this year. Instead, they both lose their seventh game on Sunday and head off-season with some protracted structural questions.
In some respects this is normal. The reality of the NBA is that almost every team sees the end of the season, at least in a slightly disappointing way, and its weaknesses are clearly exposed. There are levels to this, but in reality, the four teams have seen the season end in the last few days after a very strong season. The other 20 teams are anxious to have problems.
Unfortunately, “let’s lose in the second round” is not a big cry. The better your team, the higher your stakes will be. If you win the championship (as Milwaukee did), the goals will be repeated immediately. Simply winning 50 and losing a tough series to another top candidate feels like a failure.
But at the root of the post-season 2022 shortcomings is one potential failure that was consistent on both teams. In short, they couldn’t handle the distributed lineup. This is not a “small ball” rather than a “space ball”.
Space balls are what happens when the size of the players on the court is not an issue, but rather where they are standing. that is, Mavericks Place 5 talented 3-point shooters around and leave Rudy Gobert And when Eighton is in the no-man’s land, or the first defensive spirit of Bucks leaves them essentially bold. Grant Williams Eliminate them.
This is the latest evolution of post-season tactical games and continues to evolve at a dizzying pace. String 5 players around, switch everything to defense, fight one-on-one with defenses that can’t easily send help, and enjoy either. Open for 3 seconds or reach the rim. Forget the pick and roll. This is similar to Pick and Run. The spaceball team may set the screen to get the switch, but after the screener removes hell from evasion and moves along the 3-point line, the endgame is dribbler isolation.
Other coaches may have tried this at some point, but the real turning point for Spaceball was the Clippers-Jazz series a year ago. LA coach Tyronn Lue turned to it as a way to neutralize Gobert in the series. Hair clippers There was no superstar forward Kawhi Leonard There was a talent for security guards. It worked so well that they came back from 25 in Game 6 and jazz And win the series.
This is a step beyond the Golden State Warriors’ infamous small ball “Deathlineup”. This is because the five almost switchable players rely on shutting down the enemy’s three pointers and creating a myriad of drive-and-kick opportunities. The Warriors grouping worked because it had the best 3-point shooter ever. Spaceball, in contrast, works because the three-point threat is spread throughout the lineup.
Look at the big three-point gap in the first two rounds. Dallas and Boston are 1st and 2nd, respectively, with a playoff frequency of 3 points, and 2nd and 3rd by limiting their opponents’ 3 seconds. Throughout the postseason, Dallas wins 12.9 3 seconds per 100 possessions and Boston wins 11.0 more than their opponents.
In the course of the series, it created an impossible math problem. After leading the league three points frequently during the regular season, Utah finished third in 72 attempts and 44 times against Dallas in more than six games. The Mavericks margin in the same category was 83 trials and 33 make-ups in seven games against Phoenix. Boston, meanwhile, almost doubled Milwaukee with a 110-57 triple in seven games in the second round of the East.
Phoenix, Milwaukee, and Utah all stumbled on their own trying to handle the spaceball in a traditional five. in contrast, Net In the first round they played three little guards against Boston, and they were wiped out because of their efforts. But the real heart of Brooklyn’s bizarre lineup was that it had to match the Boston spaceball combination and ran out of great progress.
Milwaukee tried to grow against Boston, and it worked for five games — Bucks had a lot of rim protection, and they had Jeannis to carry the attack. I did. Same as above for the 3-2 Series Lead and Phoenix who had the hope that it was tired of the Dallas Star Luka Doncic.. Instead, Sands lost 60 points in the last two games. The longer the series, the more Boston and Dallas gained an advantage with spaceballs.
The individual data further highlight these trends.Bucks was outscored with 19.2 points per 100 possessions Brook Lopez On the Boston series court, he abandoned an astonishing 47.13 point attempt for every 100 possessions in his minute. Dallas, on the other hand, averages 46.9 triples per 100 against Maxi Kleber’s playoffs of 28.1 allowed.
Of course, I’m overly reducing about 3.Both Dallas and Boston with Doncic Jayson Tatum To focus their attacks.With the Mavericks Celtics He also made great personal defenses throughout Sunday and the playoffs, which was a major factor in their victory.
But there is a problem here. Their lineup of space balls has made many of them possible. By playing this way, both teams put multiple Elite 3 and D wings on the floor, switching everything so that the vulnerable true five isn’t lying down for the opponent’s pick and roll. I was able to do.Kleber I scouted As a small forward Mostly at the heart of the series, against the top pick 7-foot players and giants in the 2018 draft in Germany five years ago (which happened to have a teammate named Devin Booker). Govea in the previous round, who was to play the time.
What happened to Bucks and Sands on Sunday seems to have important implications for how the team will create a roster in the future.
Did you think the center is a dinosaur now? Just wait. Gobert was one of the league’s most valuable players in the regular season of the last few seasons, but the Mavericks spaceball approach made him irrelevant, as did the Clippers a year ago. He didn’t smoke. It was that he was no longer in a position to offset the genocide around him. By adopting this approach, the Mavericks defeated Utah twice without Doncic.
Eighton encountered a similar fate in the semifinals of the conference, as well as his backup. JaVale McGee.. Ironically, the Phoenix team, who lost in the NBA Finals a year ago because they didn’t have enough quality size, lost this year because they didn’t have a border group to play against the Space Ball.The only good player between 6’7 and 6’11 in Sands Cameron JohnsonWhen they tried to make it smaller without one of the traditional centers, they ended up that too small. (In the postseason for the second consecutive year, Dario Salic May have helped. )
Meanwhile, Boston has mercilessly exposed Bucks’ restrictions on spaceballs, starting with Al Horford’s 30-point explosion in Game 4. Grants Williams in Game 7.with him Derrick White Given as many Open 3s as possible to handle, the Celtics took a ridiculous 55 and Bucks toasted.
What made this difficult for opponents was that Spaceball also turned out not to be a bad defensive strategy, especially if you had the right type of forward. Williams is a remodeled college center that protects the interior much better than his 6’6 size suggests, with the help of barrel chests and incredible lower body strength. Horford is big enough to withstand Giannis (the player he’s always firmly defended), or even the seemingly huge Lopez.
So what does this mean for Milwaukee and Phoenix? Do they dare to do it and hope to play better next year? Or did this postseason reveal a more meaningful gap in their roster?
Neither team is equipped to play or defend the post-season space ball.The best way for Milwaukee to deal with it is to play Janice at 5 o’clock and leave both. Bobby Portis And Lopez are on the pine, but Bucks hasn’t had enough quality boundary talent to trust such a lineup for a long time. (Khris Middleton would definitely have helped.)
Compare this with a year ago. In particular, without the space balls in front of them at PJ Tucker, Milwaukee wouldn’t have the right boundary talent. Tucker will be attending the conference finals with Boston as part of a more space ball-friendly roster in Miami. Idris Adebayo Off the floor.
Another problem with spaceballs is that you need five good border players, not just two or three. Therefore, it usually does not occur much in the playoffs.Bucks turned to after all George hill When Grayson Allen And pay for it.Phoenix tried to dust Torrey Craig In Game 7 to disastrous effects.
This takes us to the off-season. Eighton has a new contract with Phoenix as a restricted free agent. On the other hand, if you want to add a spaceball-type player to a roster with limited cap flexibility, Lopez is probably Bucks’ most tradeable piece. Bucks and Sands played the finals this way just a year ago and are pretty much tied to the current group, but already seem to be tactically disadvantaged in the upcoming postseason without some changes. ..
It may also instruct you to move to another locale.For example, in the case of Memphis, the playoff space ball Jaren Jackson Jr. 5 o’clock than putting a traditional center next to him. If you are brooklyn Andre Drummond When LaMarcus Aldridge I feel like stupidity. Nets needs a unique version of Tucker, Claver and Williams.
Finally, as the entire league has landed in Chicago for this week’s NBA Draft Combine, I’m wondering what that means for draft spaceball-type forwards. For example, players like Colorado State University’s David Roddy and Ohio State University’s EJ Liddell may look like fringe picks in some respects, but they can have great utility as a spaceball forward. There is sex.
Of course, the story about this trend could change gear depending on what happens in the next two rounds. But for now, it’s worth noting that last year’s finalists were eliminated this weekend, largely because of the tactical style they didn’t match. Spaceball is the biggest story of the 2022 postseason and could be the story of the 2022 off-season.
(Top photo of Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton: Mark J. Levilas / USA TODAY Sports)