(Mandatory Australian player picture)
Houston signing Dwight was a huge move in the off-season, and they appeared contenders in the making with numerous perimeter pieces, the best back up centre in Asik (Sorry Kouf), and a whole bunch of underrated cogs in the team. But so far, their team orientated offense and particularly defense has been lacking, so how can the Griz take advantage?
The Rockets lead the league in points per game (10), three's attempted (27) and fouls drawn (29), and their offense should revolve around either Dwight or Asik (think twin towers experiment is over), surrounded by three point shooters, as everyone on their roster except those two can shoot the three.
-Pick and Roll
I'll be looking at the Mavs-Rockets game, and we'll start with their strongest play, the Harden/Dwight Pick and Roll. Harden is a superb ball handler and passer, whilst Howard possesses the quickness and strength the be the ultimate roll man. It's close to an unstoppable play, but as a defense you need to choose where you want an offense to kill you.
In this particular play, Marion has allowed Harden to the top of the arc far too easily, whilst Dalembert was a little slow in pressuring Harden, he needs to be either a step forward or a few steps back to protect the hoop.
I think the Griz want to come up quickly and hedge (pressure) on the pick, forcing Harden to make the pass to Howard, and preventing penetration, and a whole drive and kick game that Houston do well at. Dallas are playing with one big man, we'd likely be playing with two, so the second big needs to rotate onto Howard quickly, and force him to either try and finish through him or make a pass (he's a clumsy passer).
Vince rotated and fouled, but finishing over Z-bo or Gasol would be considerably harder, whilst he has a tendency to always try to finish when getting the ball off a roll to the hoop.
This is some good Mavs D, as Harden can only really force a tough drive, or a tough pass to the open Howard, who would probably try to finish over Nowitzki or make a clumsy, slow pass to Terrence Jones in the corner. Dalembert could probably be helping a little more, but this play resulted in the offense breaking down and having to start again through Parsons (which helped slow the pace).
Dwight did well in the block against Dalembert, but this is the offense we want Houston running. Dalembert is fronting Dwight aggressively, and has burned the shot clock to 10 seconds against the league's fastest pace. As soon as Beverley throws the entry pass, Calderon comes in to double, why?, because Dwight Howard is a bit of a black hole in the post (as opposed to Blake in my previous blueprint).
A smart double by Calderon results in a silly move by Dwight to spin baseline, and with defenders staying on knockdown shooters Harden and Parsons (inactive and pointlessly active), Dwight forces the tough shot with no result.
Would love to see TA defend Harden in the clutch with his hands behind his back. Houston gets the most foul shots in the clutch (7), but shoots a poor 33% probably trying to draw them.
Harden with the extremely off balance floater and three pointer drying to draw contact. It does work, but isn't the smartest way to play in the clutch, hopefully Tony takes advantage of this. Also, foul the hell outta Dwight.
The Rockets have probably the worst pick and roll defense in the league, and it's inexplicably lazy/poorly thought out. The Grizzlies play mainly an inside out style of offense, but need to have some more sets featuring the Mike/Marc two man game if they really want to take advantage.
-Pick and Roll
This isn't a 'two man game' set, but you can see how Beverley is going to get crushed by this screen (stuck in between going over or under), and will be forced to switch onto Dalembert. From there Monta can either feed Dalembert on the mismatch (imagine if Z-bo was Dalembert), try to finish on Dwight or hit the cutting Calderon, who could easily be replaced by TA. Mike Prada wrote a good piece on how Houston's defenders allow their men into the middle too easily (http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2013/11/11/5068216/houston-rockets-defense-james-harden-chandler-parsons) and you can see it here again.
I've circled Beverley after he gets caught up in screens on Monta and as their 'premier' perimeter defender, will most likely match up with Conley. Monta did a great job assisting after the easy penetration, and Mike can definitely do the same,assisting Gasol on the switch, a cutting TA, or a shooter in the corner (Q, Miller, Tay??!??!?)
Mike for Monta and Marc for Dirk are comparable players, this two man game should be incredibly effective due to Beverley's refusal to go under a pick/allow penetration into the middle of the court.
I don't believe the Grizzlies should rely on posting up Z as they did against GSW but it is part of their offense so it shall remain. But straight post-ups won't be as effective as creating the switch off the pick and roll, then posting up the smaller player (refer to pics), and there needs to be some movement through cutters to take advantage of Houston's defenders falling asleep on the perimeter (refer to video). Howard and Asik combine as great interior defenders, so relying on dumping the ball inside and watching our big men go to work won't cut it.
-Stay home on knock down shooters (Harden, Parsons, Lin, Garcia)
-Force Howard to make the decision (get the ball out of Harden's hands) and double him in the post
-Slow the pace by getting back on D, and getting the ball to Howard.
-Abuse their pick and roll defense
-Big games from Mike/Marc - utilise 2 man game
-Look for passing from high post (Marc) and low (Z-bo)
Should be an awesome game to watch, up the Griz!