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Thread: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

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    Default Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Note to readers: I had originally posted the following commentary in the Pacers/Blazers post-game thread, but realized my post didn't fit there. So, I started this thread to better discuss the issues I've addressed. After reviewing the numbers, I think I understand what's happened with this team and why they're losing. Still, bear with me, folks. As you'll have to get through the "preamble" before getting to the heart of the matter. So, without further delay...

    The more I watch this team - the starters in particular - the more I'm convinced they need to address multiple problems starting w/TJ Ford, Troy Murphy and the reserves.

    TJ Ford. He's just not a pass-first PG. He doesn't read the defense very well at all, but instead reacts solely to the one player he's guarding. He gets beat off the dribble so bad because he never places himself in the best defensive position to stop the PnR which is to say he should be forcing his man into the heart of the defense. But instead, he either lines up directly in front of the ballhandler or with his back to the defense (strong-side defense) instead of away from it (weak-side defense).

    The key to defending the PnR is to know it's coming. It's such a basic play; every team uses it to some degree. And while it's difficult to defend depending on where it's initiated from, your PG can disrupt it if he positions himself opposite the defense. More often than not, this will force the ballhandler to either dribble toward the defense OR pass the ball. But the way TJ positions himself, he leaves large driving lanes open for easy penetration. In contrast, if you watch how Watson positions himself defensively, rarely does he get scored on by dribble penetration. Why? Because he reads the defense so much better instead of merely reacting to the ballhandler and he positions himself in such a way that the ballhandlers has little choice but to either dribble into the heart of the defense, attempt to drive around his primary defender or pass the ball.

    Troy Murphy. Another problem I've witnessed as I'm sure most of you have observed as well is Murphy isn't attempting to drive the lanes nearly enough. Instead, he seems to take alot more FGAs (3PAs) which is having the opposite affect than what JOB wants. There's a reason defenses are collapsing the middle and forcing us to take jump shots; we're not scoring from the field! What makes their FG shooting exhibition look worse is the Pacers have had some wide open looks at the basket, but for whatever reason their shots just aren't falling.

    Too many shooters/penetrators. Another thing I've noticed is JOB has far too many shooters and penetrators on the floor than bangers. He prefers to go small. Don't be fooled by the perceived necessity to "go small". Not true.

    We've played Hibbert because he's been our primary Center who has produced on both sides of the ball. We've played Hansborough because he provides hustle and toughness around the basket unlike any other player out there who's name isn't Jeff Foster. We've played Murphy because he's suppose to be able to "space the floor" (and he's not a bad defensive rebounder). And we've played Jeff Foster who may not give you much offense, but you just can't discount his hustle and rebounding skills. But whenever JOB talks about going small I ask myself, "Why?" He's got enough big bodies to put out there. Where's Soloman Jones? I can understand not going with McRoberts. As energetic as he is, McRob still suffers from "youthful exuberance". He has to yet learn how to slow his motor down while in games so that he plays more under control. Solo doesn't seem to have that problem. He's long and lean like McRob and hustles like Foster, yet where are his minutes?

    Aggressiveness/FTAs. And now to the heart of the matter as I see it. I've tried to identify one solid trend, something different from the the way the team played during the 5-game winning streak compared to what's happening right now and the one thing that sticks out besides Murphy not playing during that period was the Pacers started four players and used four reserves who were all very energetic players: Granger, Dahntay, BRush, Ford, Head, Watson, Solo, Hansborough and McRoberts. Not one of these nine players can be said to be slow or lacking in energy, quickness or hustle, or any combination thereof. But the moment JOB went away from youth and speed to a more slower veteran group anchored by or involving Murphy starting at PF, that's when things began to unravel. Not saying it's Murphy's fault. Just saying I think JOB is forcing this team to play towards its weaknesses instead of its strengths. And one of the weakness as most have of you have already pointed out is JOB's insistance on using Murphy to space the floor and take 3PAs instead of changing things up and instilling in Murphy to attack the basket more.

    In pointing out that JOB is using more shooters and penetrators, I didn't mean it as a negative necessarily. I think the Pacers's biggest problem has been their lack of attacking the basket since Murphy's return. Again, I'm not saying it's Murphy's fault. However, I am saying that Murphy's return coincided with JOB reverting to quick 3-pt shots instead of allowing and/or emphasizing to his players to attack the basket first AND THEN take the game out to the perimeter. Basically, using what Zeke called "The Quick". The Pacers won those five consecutive games because THEY were the aggressors and THEY more or less dictated the tempo and style of the game. And they did it with speed, quickness, hustle, strong defense AND aggressiveness. Here are the free throw numbers for each game..

    During the 5-game winning streak:

    BOLD = Pacers stats

    FTA = Free Throw Attempts
    PF = Personal Fouls committed

    Vs Knicks: FTA - 20-28/14-18; PF - 20/23

    Vs Wizards: FTA - 27-36/15-26; PF - 23/23

    Vs Warriors: FTA - 25-34/16-24; PF - 23/26

    Vs Celtics: FTA - 25-31/23-31; PF - 23/24

    Vs Nets: FTA - 25-31/24-27; PF - 22/23

    After the 5-game winning streak:

    Vs Knicks: FTA - 27-39/30-41; PF - 31-29

    Vs Cavs: FTA - 15-21/27-34; PF - 22-17

    Vs Bobcats: FTA - 19-24/21-28; PF - 22-21

    Vs Raptors: FTA - 22-26/28-37; PF - 24-23

    Vs Mavs: FTA - 19-28/22-28; 22-23*

    Vs Warriors: FTA - 28-34/28/34; PF - 23/22*

    Vs Kings: FTA - 18-25/19-25; PF - 26-23**

    Vs Jazz: FTA - 25-34/17-27; PF - 27-26*

    Vs Clippers: FTA - 13-19/26-31; PF - 27-21

    Vs Blazers: FTA - 12-17/18-27; PF - 23-22**

    *The difference these games were FGAs (Pacers vs Mavs: 33-76/41-92; Pacers vs Warriors: 38-86/45-80)

    **The difference this game was 3PAs (Pacers vs Kings: 7-22/9-18; Pacers loss, 105-110; Pacers vs Blazers: 3-19/6-16; Pacers loss, 91-102)

    With few exceptions, it is clear that the smaller starting lineup JOB used along with the the four more aggressive reserves - Head, Watson, Hansborough and Solo - worked extremely well to put pressure on the defense. This group of nine players (the starters being Granger, Danhtay, Ford, Hibbert and BRush) all continued to attack, attack and attack!! They forced the defense to react to them instead of sitting back and taking what came their way. As such, they got to the FT line more and committed equal or fewer fouls. But since JOB has gone to a nine-man rotation using the vets more (Murphy and Foster) and less of Head and Solo, the offense hasn't attacked nearly as much. So, what's the solution?

    1. Reduce TJ Fords minutes OR start Watson over TJ. Ideally, I'd like to see JOB go back to playing TJ in much the same way he did when TJ returned after suffering from back spasms - to breach the 2nd and 3rd qrts and close the 4th. I think reducing TJ's minutes and letting Watson play for longer stretches would bring more stability and consistency to the offense. I doubt that will happen, but it's one to help turn things around. Another is to just start Watson. He's defends better and is the more sturdier hand...not by much, but it's enough IMO to warrant taking a closer look at making the switch. (Watson/Ford: Asst, 3.2/3.1; TOG, 1.50/1.89; Asst/TO ratio: Watson - 2.15; Ford - 1.61)

    2. Get Murphy to drive the lanes more and reduce his minutes; give some to Solo! I don't think we need to go into this area again. Reducing Murphy's minutes would allow Solo to get on the floor. And considering that Hansborough's minutes are still limited, it just makes sense to do this once you realize the aggressiveness at PF has diminished since Murphy's return.

    3. Lay off the 3-Point Shots!! Let's face it, going 3-19...7-22 3PAs doesn't instill fear in many teams. Heck, I don't blame opposing teams for shagging off our Wings and doubling down on our post-players. When you're shooting .298 from the perimeter as a team, you're not much of a perimeter threat. So, why keep shooting them with such frequency? Switch your game plan; go back to attacking the basket more.

    I think if JOB were honest about the numbers, he'd make the necessary adjustments akin to what I've outlined herein.

    Let's discuss it.
    Last edited by NuffSaid; 12-11-2009 at 12:39 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Good read. The only option that I'd see happening is Option 1......Ford eventually lost his Starting spot to Jack.....just like he will likely lose this season's Starting Spot to Watson.

    As for Murphy driving to the lane....have you ever seen Murphy drive to the lane? He has such a lack of explosiveness in his first step that when he does attempt it....it looks like he's attempting a very weak layup that my 5 year old can easily swat out into the 6th row. I'd hope that he ( just like anyone else on the Team ) would recognize that when his jumpshot starts to fail ( which is more often then not )......that he'd simply attack the basket.

    As for JO'Bs offense taking less 3pt shots....good luck on that. You might as well ask TJ to stop dribbling into a forest of Big Men, jumping into the air THEN looking for someone to pass it to....cuz you know that won't ever happen.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    As for JO'Bs offense taking less 3pt shots....good luck on that.
    Atleast for one night, the Pacers laid off the 3-pt shot and settled more for taking shots from the field:

    Re: Pacers/Nets (12/10/09):

    FGA: 42-90
    FTA: 17-19
    3PA: 6-13

    This game went against the trend statistically, but the Pacers still attacked the basket alot more than I've seen them do over the last 11 games. Even Troy took far fewer 3PAs than usual, 1-2. Dunleavy, on the other hand, was on fire from the perimeter; 3-3 from downtown! Here's hoping he's finally found the range!!!

    Bottom line on the night: The Pacers didn't settle for the long ball, but instead took there game inside and made alot of good things happen, i.e., Roy Hibbert 20 pts, Tyler Hansborough 21 pts - both career highs! Well Done, boys!
    Last edited by NuffSaid; 12-12-2009 at 09:49 PM.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    I think I'm going to keep up with this trend theory of mine over the next 10 games or so and see if there's really much truth to it. So far, it seems I may be onto something.

    Pacers/Wizards (12/12/09):

    FGA: 38-89/45-83
    FTA: 28-30/15-23
    3PA: 10-23/8-19
    Pers Fouls: 21/23

    Free throws once again won the day especially the last two by Mike Dunleavy this game...and what a game it was!!! (See Pacers/Wizards game thread for details)

  6. #5

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Pacers/Magic (12/14/09):

    FGA: 42-88/36-86
    FTA: 7-10/25-35
    3PA: 7-22/9-29
    Pers Fouls: 28/15

    The Magic, compliments of Dwight "Superman" Howard, kicked out butts from the FT line. Of course, when you're playing the old "Hack-A-Shaq" game - only this time it was "Hack-A-Howard" - and he's making the majority of his free throws (13-22), I'd say it's time to impliment a new strategy 'cause clearly you really aren't going to win using that one. Still, if you take away Howard's 13 made FTs, the Pacers would have won by 5 pts. The inverse, of course, is you let Howard posterize you all night and the game could have looked alot worse.

    Overall, it was a good effort by the Pacers. Howard (and Vince Carter, 10-21 for 28 pts) just proved to be too much for my boyz last night.
    Last edited by NuffSaid; 12-15-2009 at 10:36 AM.

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    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Its not like they were fouling him intentionally when he touched the ball. They fouled him when he was going to dunk it. That is a sound strategy.

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    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by NuffSaid View Post
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    Of course, when you're playing the old "Hack-A-Shaq" game - only this time it was "Hack-A-Howard" - and he's making the majority of his free throws (13-22), I'd say it's time to impliment a new strategy 'cause clearly you really aren't going to win using that one. Still, if you take away Howard's 13 made FTs, the Pacers would have won by 5 pts. The inverse, of course, is you let Howard posterize you all night and the game could have looked alot worse.
    Quote Originally Posted by nerveghost View Post
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    Its not like they were fouling him intentionally when he touched the ball. They fouled him when he was going to dunk it. That is a sound strategy.
    Right. Those 11 possessions could have been 11 certain dunks leading to 22 points. Instead, they worked out to be only 13 points from free throws. As nerveghost says, it was sound strategy.


    Now, as to Nuff's OP, would you also consider fast-break points as an indicator of aggressiveness? As much as people seem to dislike the Pacers tendency to take early shots, that tends to be a smart thing to do. But the Pacers seem to get outscored on fast-break points in most games.

    Last night, the Pacers scored only 3 points on fast breaks, compared to Orlando's 13 points.
    Last edited by Putnam; 12-15-2009 at 10:54 AM.
    And I won't be here to see the day
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    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    I really think it is sorry when the NBA officiates like they did last nite. There was a 25 FTA difference. That is unacceptable. The Pacers played well enough to win the game, but the Magic got star treatment. It really is a turn off.

    'freak...out!

  11. #9
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    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by pacerfreak View Post
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    I really think it is sorry when the NBA officiates like they did last nite. There was a 25 FTA difference. That is unacceptable. The Pacers played well enough to win the game, but the Magic got star treatment. It really is a turn off.

    'freak...out!
    Meh...there were a few plays that upset me a bit, but overall, the officiating didn't have much to do with it. The FT differential was a combination of "Hack-a-Dwight" strategy and the fact that Orlando was just more aggressive in attacking.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by Putnam View Post
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    Right. Those 11 possessions could have been 11 certain dunks leading to 22 points. Instead, they worked out to be only 13 points from free throws. As nerveghost says, it was sound strategy.
    Well, I did say and I quote, "The inverse, of course, is you let Howard posterize you all night and the game could have looked alot worse." So, I did highlight both sides of that game plan. My take would have been stop trying to stop Superman and instead defend the Wings alot better because in the end that hurt us more than potentially being posterized by Howard.


    Now, as to Nuff's OP, would you also consider fast-break points as an indicator of aggressiveness? As much as people seem to dislike the Pacers tendency to take early shots, that tends to be a smart thing to do. But the Pacers seem to get outscored on fast-break points in most games.

    Last night, the Pacers scored only 3 points on fast breaks, compared to Orlando's 13 points.
    Sure...absolutely! But you have to be alittle careful with how you present this statistic. The tendency is to think fastbreak points result from strong interior defense, but that's not always the case. It can also result from teams taking quick perimeter shots and the defense getting the rebound and sprinting down court for the easy basket. This is what happens most often to the Pacers. It has little to do with opposing teams making a strong interior defensive stance as much as it being a matter of teams getting that long defensive rebound. That's why I would also coach my youngsters who were capable of knocking down shots from long range to follow their shot! The only Pacer I've seen do that is Tyler Hansborough.

    But yes, fastbreak points, as well as points in the paint, can also be good indicators of a team's aggressiveness as much as the number of FTAs. Against the Magic, it was pretty obvious the Pacers really were being that aggressive in attacking the basket. Then again, Dwight Howard rarely steps out to defend his man beyond the free throw line. He defends the paint like a younger Shaq use to do.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by NuffSaid
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    Well, I did say and I quote, "The inverse, of course, is you let Howard posterize you all night and the game could have looked alot worse." So, I did highlight both sides of that game plan.
    Yes, you did.

    I thought by quoting your whole statement, including what you repeat here, that I was noting that you recognized this. I just mentioned nerveghost's comment specifically because he said it more clearly. I didn't mean to suggest you didn't also recognize it.


    Please keep up this "aggressiveness" theme. It is certainly worth discussing further.
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    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by count55 View Post
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    Meh...there were a few plays that upset me a bit, but overall, the officiating didn't have much to do with it. The FT differential was a combination of "Hack-a-Dwight" strategy and the fact that Orlando was just more aggressive in attacking.
    Yeah, I agree that "Hack Superman" may have been part of the Pacers game plan, however Superman got away with "quite a bit" of pushing off from what I saw. I do also agree that we seemed to settle for our less agressive "now were're ahead so lets play our outside outside offense".

    'feak...out!

  15. #13

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    What I've seen from the Pacers is that they'll stay with their "quick 3-pt shot game plan" for a few games but then when that no longer proves to be reliable they'll try and switch to attacking the basket more. It's the inverse of having an inside/outside game. The irony here is over the last 4-5 games and in particular over the 5-game winning streak, the evidence shows that when the Pacers lay off the 3-pt shot and attack the basket more they're chances for victory are higher.

  16. #14

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Pacers/Bobcats (12/16/09):

    FGA: 35-73/32-75
    FTA: 19-26/30-40...Unreal!!!
    3PA: 12-24/4-17
    Pers Fouls: 31/22

    This was one of those rare games where the Pacers won due to their 3-pt shooting, but my goodness. The FT disparity was unreal!!! I'm not one who normally complains about the refs, but the officiating was just plain aweful this game. The only calls the refs got right were the two 3PAs by BRush and AD Augustine last in the 4Q where both were waved off - BRush's because the shot clock expired and Augustine because the game clock expired. Other than those two calls, I thought the refs chocked on their whistles for the better part of the 4Q and what calls they did make clearly went in favor of the Bobcats.

    The Pacers were fortunately to get this win. The game should never have been that close (101-98).

  17. #15

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    And the Pacers won the fast-break derby, 21-10.
    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

  18. #16

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by NuffSaid View Post
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    Pacers/Bobcats (12/16/09):

    FGA: 35-73/32-75
    FTA: 19-26/30-40...Unreal!!!
    3PA: 12-24/4-17
    Pers Fouls: 31/22

    This was one of those rare games where the Pacers won due to their 3-pt shooting, but my goodness. The FT disparity was unreal!!! I'm not one who normally complains about the refs, but the officiating was just plain aweful this game. The only calls the refs got right were the two 3PAs by BRush and AD Augustine last in the 4Q where both were waved off - BRush's because the shot clock expired and Augustine because the game clock expired. Other than those two calls, I thought the refs chocked on their whistles for the better part of the 4Q and what calls they did make clearly went in favor of the Bobcats.

    The Pacers were fortunately to get this win. The game should never have been that close (101-98).
    The officiating was no worse than usual against the Bobcats. If anything, I thought the refs were letting the players play. The problem is that this team does not have the ability to play defense without fouling. We are dead last in the NBA in opponent free throws attempted per game. I have a really hard time believing this is due to the refs having it out for our guys. Rather, I think our defense is designed to force jump shots and foul anyone that comes into the lane. Given our lack of defensive talent, this probably gives us the best chance to win; however, we will never be a truly competitive team if we continue to run this defense.

    People can point to our bad offensive numbers, and they are bad, but I think this team's biggest problems are still on the defensive end.
    "Ever wonder what it's like to wonder what it's like to wonder, they get up out of bed but can't awaken from their slumber, they know what they've been told by those who know what they've been told, you see this hand me down knowledge generated ages ago, and I know what they've been told because I've been told the same thing, I had to broaden my horizons to expand on greater things..." Many Styles

  19. #17

    Default Re: Trend Associated w/recent losing streak: Lack of Aggressiveness!

    Quote Originally Posted by Putnam View Post
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    And the Pacers won the fast-break derby, 21-10.
    Thanks for reminding me...gotta start adding those stats as well.

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