Ah the record breaker. Before we look at some stuff in depth, I wanted to post this awesome video by Rob Mahoney of the Truehoop Network’s Dallas Mavericks blog, The Two Man Game:
Alright, back to the breakdown. As you might expect, we are going to look exclusively at the second quarter. You know, the one where the Nets gave up 49 points. The Mavericks shot over 80% in the first half, and the reason was the Nets defense gave up too many wide-open looks, due to very poor rotation:
The Nets came out and played some zone in the second quarter, an interesting 2-1-2 zone, but it didn’t really work at all.
Dallas recognizes the zone early, and the overload it. What I mean by that is they put 4 players in an area where there are only 3 defenders.
The ball gets swung, and Dallas does a pretty interesting thing right here. They have Dirk switch sides too, and now since the ball AND Dirk are on the same side, the focus is over there, even though the play will go to the other side.
The first problem starts with Sean Williams. He is up way too high, and part of that is the playcalling. Because they are running a 2-1-2, Sean Williams starts high, but the pick and roll action sucks him even higher. In reality though, Williams doesn’t even need to concern himself with the pick and roll. Because Devin is in the correct position, there is no real threat there. The problem with Williams being too high is that Bobby Simmons has nobody to pass Jason Kidd off to. Kidd cuts along the baseline, and when a zone is run correctly, he would be passed off from defender-to-defender along the zone. That doesn’t happen though, and Simmons sticks with him to prevent an open lay-up.
This lack of rotation leaves J.J. Barea wide open (there is nobody within 20 feet of him). If Simmons would have been able to pass off Kidd instead of having to stick with him, he would have been in proper defensive position to defend the shot.
I am posting this picture as an added bonus. Look at Bobby Simmons. You would think that a shooter making 10 million plus this year…a shooter that isn’t shooting the ball very well…would be doing anything he can to snap this losing streak. Including closing out hard on shooters…nope…Simmons jogged briskly to Barea, just to get close enough to not get yelled at by the coaching staff. Embarrassing.
One more for you. Again, the Nets are playing the 2-1-2 zone:
Dallas decides to attack it the same way, with a pick, and the look is almost the same. The only difference is that this time, they overload the left side.
Josh Boone is in the right spot (for now), but look at Courtney Lee. Why is he even trying to get through the pick when the Nets are playing zone? There is no reason to get through it because Devin Harris is on the other side ready to defend. Now his back is to the basketball, and he has to turn around to close out on Dirk.
Courtney Lee actually does a real good job of getting himself turned around and in position to close out on Dirk. The problem now though is Josh Boone. For some reason, he completely ignores the man in the corner to close out on Dirk. This isn’t just because of Dirk either. Every game, you can point at an over rotation Josh Boone makes. I think that his lack of speeds forces him to try to anticipate plays, and he usually anticipates incorrectly.
Because of Josh Boone’s incorrect rotation, the Mavericks are given another wide open shot. We aren’t talking about “NBA-open” either. In the NBA, open is considered a guy with a hand in your face, but not really close enough to effect it. Here, these guys are WIDE FREAKING OPEN. Teams don’t go 17-19 from the field when a team closes out on them. The Nets poor rotation and lack of close outs is the reason why the Mavericks shot so well.
Another effect of poor rotation? Guys are less likely to help, because they aren’t sure whether the guy behind him is going to be there or not. Trust is a big key on defense. You need to trust the guys behind you, and the Nets just don’t have that trust. I mean look at this:
Trenton Hassell is so worried about his man that he is willing to leave a man (with the basketball!) under the basket open to go cover a guy at the three point line (there wasn’t even a pump fake made). That shows the lack of trust Trenton Hassell has in his teammates’ ability to rotate correctly, and I don’t blame him.