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Thread: Fixing the Pacers Offense and Attacking Zone Defenses

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    Member naptownmenace's Avatar
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    Default Fixing the Pacers Offense and Attacking Zone Defenses

    Because of the Pacers slow pace and very predictable offense, most teams are successfully stopping the Pacers with zone defenses. Even when they play man-to-man, the lack of movement away from the ball makes it easy for defenders to contest any pass made or shot attempted.

    Even last year the Pacers struggled against Zone defenses. Remember that collapse against Sacramento in January? The Pacers led by 14 and went 6-25 in the fourth quarter on their way to a disappointing loss. A Sacramento beat writer broke down how the Kings successfully attacked the Pacers with their zone play-by-play.

    With the exception of recovering on loose balls and offensive rebounds, the Kings were almost perfect defensively in the fourth quarter. This wasn't a fluke with the opponents missing tons of open shots. This was an opponent completely thrown off by the zone, the quickness of the Kings lineup and its own inability to get anything easy.
    Why do they struggle against the Zone? Sure they miss Danny's ability to knock down 3s but there are several ways to attack a zone other than knocking down 3s. You can attack it by increasing the motion of the offense. Motion away from the ball keeps the defense guessing. Setting screens can force a zone defender into moving out of position or create favorable mismatches.

    I've noticed is that the Pacers movement and screening technique in the halfcourt has been very poor and at time non-existent. What happened to setting screens to free up shooters? I haven't seen them do much of that since the first half of the first game of the season against Toronto. A lot of that is on the ball handler because they don't run their man into the screens properly and the other half of the problem is that they just don't set screens often enough. That's on the coaching staff as much as it is the players

    From the Guide to Basketball Coaching:
    The coach should never use players at a position where they show no ability. He should assign duties that best utilize the abilities of each player. The offense should keep the best rebounders in position to rebound, and the good shooters should take the most shots. All the others should understand proper screening technique to be able to screen for the better shooters.
    I think the Hibbert has been miscast as Patrick Ewing in our offense. He doesn't even have Rik Smits game in the post or shooting ability from the perimeter so unless he can post up and seal his man deep inside the lane, don't throw the ball to him in situations where he has to try to dribble and back his man down. I think he's at his best when he can catch the ball in a position to score. Think of how the Dallas Mavs and the Knicks used Tyson Chandler. That should be the way he's used in the Pacers offense. He should be setting a lot of screens away from the ball to free up shooters and could be used in Pick-and-Roll situations at the top of the key. He could wind up with some nice easy dunks if he slashes to the basket hard off those picks.

    The 4-1 Zone Offense could help:

    Another way to hurt the Zone is to increase the tempo. So far the pace is way too slow and they are getting into their sets very slowly. That could be because of Hibbert and West. Neither player will win any foot races but they must push the tempo using a controlled fast-break. They were actually pretty successfully last year when they used this type of offense. Darren Collison was perfect for this type of offense but George Hill was also effective later in the season when he became the full-time starter.

    I'm no coach but I've watched enough games in my to see that the offense is stagnant. I'm sure Vogel and Shaw see it as well. It will be interesting to see if they incorporate any of these tactics. If not, it'll be a very long and painful season.

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