The Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons series is an incredibly fun series for me to watch because of the great defense played by both teams. Teams are making incredible stops and breathtaking blocks in every game. The help defense on the weak side is phenomenal and penetration has been consistently stifled. The defensive intensity is absolutely amazing.
As well as the Pacers have played defensively, they haven't matched the intensity on the offensive side and now find themselves in a 2-1 deficit. A team has to put together a special blend of offense to score on a defense with such defensive quality, intensity and individual abilities. It's extremely difficult to get good shooting opportunities and to capitalize on the ones that do come.
Jermaine O'Neal and the Pacers should be exploiting the Pistons' help defense.
In this series the Pacers have seldom seen open shots and have had trouble getting the ball inside to Jermaine O'Neal. I recall a play earlier in the series where Reggie Miller had the ball at the left wing with O'Neal in the post and Rasheed Wallace covering him. The other players were spread away from the play, which seemed a perfect situation for Miller to dump the ball into O'Neal and let him work inside. But Wallace was so active in defending O'Neal from the side and actively moving around that Miller couldn't make the pass. The play resulted in a turnover and a wasted opportunity.
Sadly, wasted offensive opportunities have been an anthem for the Pacers in this series. Obviously, they haven't received many good opportunities to score, but they're squandering the ones they get. They have to find a way to score effectively.
The Pacers need to use penetrations on individual matchups to create shots for other players. Indiana has to take advantage of Detroit's great help defense by quickly kicking the ball out once the second defender engages him to get the open player a high quality shot. Right now, the Pacers are driving to the basket and getting their shots blocked repeatedly. In Game 2, they were blocked 19 times and that's not an anomaly because the Pistons are a long, athletic team.
The Pacers should drive at any defender who's quickly coming at them. It will cause the defender to either engage him and possibly foul or back up and create more space for the offensive player. The Pacers have several players in Ron Artest, Al Harrington, Jamaal Tinsley, Jonathan Bender, Anthony Johnson and Austin Croshere who can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. If that doesn't work, then the first player to get the ball on the weakside should kick the ball to an open player once the help defense comes. That's probably their best tactic because it will create open looks.
This isn't going to be an up-and-down game, but the Pacers need to convert the opportunities they receive. Right now, they aren't being aggressive enough at the basket in fastbreak situations and are settling for layups, which can and are being blocked. If the Pacers attack the basket and go for the dunk, the defender has to go through him to get the ball and foul.
Another factor for the Pacers is to keep their turnovers down and to generate as many as they can. Currently, their second-chance points are being negated by the Pistons' shot-blockers. The Wallaces are flying to the ball and the Pacers aren't reversing the ball out and getting it to the open player. Once Rasheed Wallace or Ben Wallace goes for a block, it's very difficult for them to turn around and get a rebound if a shot is successfully launched. Indiana has to take advantage and get the rebound in those situations.
As I stated earlier, it's very difficult for any team to score on a defense as ferocious as the Pistons, but if the Pacers take this prescription, they may find themselves with more points on the board.