Very Cool Analysis of the Spurs Pick N Roll Attack from Pounding the Rock...
The Spurs dominated the Lakers last night after taking a beating the last go-around. The teams meet once more in the regular season (this Friday) and there is a chance they could also collide in the playoffs. With that in mind, I decided to take a look at how the Spurs use one of their most effective weapons, the pick and roll, against the Lakers and how the Lake Show defends it. This is pretty much applicable to any team that has one good P&R defensive big and one slow footed defender.The Lakers are just the perfect case study for it.
In DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter, the Spurs have a couple of guys that set screens and roll hard to the basket. Since both lack a jumper, you won't see them popping outside for a 16 footer. In those situations, if the roll man is guarded by a good P&R defender, he either needs to set a solid screen to free up the ball handler, or the guard need to look to pass as soon as the big slips the screen. The Blair-Parker pairing often struggles because DeJuan almost always slips the screen but TP seems to prefer a good pick that allows him to explore his scoring opportunities instead of immediately looking to pass as Manu often does. Here's an example (click on the image to make it bigger).
In this play, Parker gets the ball at the top of the 3-point line with Sessions defending him (yellow square). DeJuan sets a pick making Gasol the secondary defender on the play (red square). Gasol correctly shows, or jumps out in front of Parker, to prevent Tony from driving the lane. Sessions seems trapped by the screen.
Sessions is now free because DeJuan Blair slipped the screen with the intention of rolling to the open space (see all that empty space in the lane) created by the threat of Leonard and Green behind the arc. Bynum is with Duncan but ready to help if Tony makes the pass. Gasol keeps showing to stop Parker while Sessions recovers.
Sessions, who was the secondary defender when he was "caught" in the screen is now in position to recover and impede Parker's lane to the basket. By not having to account for a Blair jumper, the angle Sessions has to cover is smaller. DeJuan is turning to roll hard to the open space Bynum is patrolling.
Sessions has recovered completely and is in place to stop Parker, while Gasol is still committed to defending either the penetration or the pass. Parker never had a enough space to launch a jumper. Bynum has moved to the painted area to close the open space, as Duncan had moved to the perimeter. Was a pass possible? Perhaps, but Sessions and Gasol did a good job of defending the angle. There is open space (green square) provided by the Spurs' spacing, but the pass would have been risky.
Why the DeJuan-Tony P&R is not particularly effective against good P&R defenders
Parker doesn't have the 3-point range to punish Gasol for not showing aggressively. The fact that Gasol doesn't have to commit to Parker completely makes it harder for Tony to turn the corner on him and attack off the dribble before Sessions can recover. By slipping the screen as often has he does, DeJuan gets an easier roll to the basket but also frees up Sessions to help Gasol. With two defenders on him, Parker can't always find the angle to make a pass and has to reset the play. The fact that Blair was guarded by Gasol (an agile and long player; the perfect type to defend the P&R) neutralized the play.
If the screener has a reliable jump shot, then it opens up other options; like ...
The Parker-Duncan pick and roll gives the Spurs more options since Duncan has range on his jumper. The fact that Timmy is also usually defended by the other team's best post defender (usually a slow-footed big guy) also creates better opportunities for the offense.
Parker starts from the left wing, with Duncan setting a screen for Tony to go right, which is his stronger hand. Since Bynum has no chance of stopping Parker on the perimeter, he stays deep in the paint deterring penetration while Blake goes behind the screen to contest a potential jumper and impede Tony's path to the basket.
Blake has cleared the screen and is on his way to be in front of Tony. Bynum stays deep in the paint to contest Tony if he goes to the hoop instead of returning to his man who is on the perimeter.
With Blake back on him and Bynum still protecting the paint, Parker picks up his dribble and finds a wide open Duncan on the left elbow.
Duncan catches the ball with enough space to shoot a jumper if he wishes or attack Bynum off the dribble. Bynum has to honor Duncan's range and closes out aggressively. In this particular play, Duncan puts the ball in the floor, but as I mentioned, and as we've seen countless times this season, Duncan has the option to pull up and shoot before Bynum closes out.
Why is the Parker Duncan pick and pop effective?
Duncan's range adds a different threat. Tim has the option to roll to the basket or pull up for an open shot, while guys like Blair and Splitter have no option but to roll hard to the basket. The fact that Duncan is usually guarded by guys that are not too fleet of foot, means that Parker can blow by them if they try to show hard, or he can pass to a rolling Duncan before they can recover. If the secondary defender sags off Duncan to deter penetration, Parker can pass to Duncan for an open shot, as the example shows. If the pick is actually effective, and Tony's man lags behind him, the he will have all the time in the world to pull up from mid-range, just like he did so often Tuesday night when the Spurs visited the Lakers.
And now one of my favorite plays: Parker-Bonner-Splitter double screen
Unlike the others, this play comes from the game in LA.
The play starts with Bonner setting a pick on Parker as Blake tries to fight through it instead of going under it, which forces Murphy (mostly hidden behind Bonner in this image) to show. At the same time, Tiago Splitter is lurking right behind the play.
When Blake recovers, Murphy tries to rush back to cover Bonner, who is now moving to the opposite wing behind the 3-point line. Splitter, then sets a second pick, this time on Bonner's man, to give Matt more time. Bynum has gone to the paint instead of following Splitter to the perimeter, probably thinking Tiago was simply going to set a pick for Parker.
Tony swings the ball to Bonner, who has all the time in the world to shoot, since Murphy has lost a second on the Splitter screen and Bynum is not fast enough to close out from that distance. Bonner sank that shot.
The beauty of this play is that if Blake goes under the screen and Murphy can recover in time, the Spurs still have the chance to immediately start another P&R set with Parker and Splitter or Tony can give the ball to Manu in the corner to run the P&R with Tiago from there.
As these examples show, the Spurs run variations of this play and have other ball handlers that do things differently than Tony. Tomorrow, I'll post the second of this series and evaluate some of the other P&R pairings and look at how effective (or ineffective) they are.
Go Spurs FO Go! Grade A for key pick ups this summer!
this is why i agree with Blair just not playing vs. the Lakers. Diaw can work vs. the Lakers because he can also handle the rock, pick and pop, & pick and roll. while some think i've lost my darn mind (ahem Rz ), this is the same reason why Bonner starting or 1st big off the bench works vs. the Lakers too.
thanks for posting spurscrazed!!
^^^ Your welcome Jose. I will post Part 2 as soon as I see it!
Totally agree on the Blair hurting our chances when he plays vs. the lakers. Diaw had been a blessing for us so far. Bonner and Tiago we need.
Defending the Pick N Roll was a huge key between the two games.
Tony Parker tortured the lakers front court with his mid range jump in LA and I hope tomorrow too. But hey it helps a whole lot when he has to pass it to someone with bigger size than Blair and can do more things...
Let's see what Coach Mike Brown will come with an adjustment in SA.
And if Kobe plays what shape he will be in.
Go Spurs FO Go! Grade A for key pick ups this summer!
Well here is Part 2 of that Cool Analysis from Pounding the Rock.
I am posting it here to keep them all on one thread!!!
In the first post of the series, we looked at some plays that worked and some that didn't. In this post I'll analyze three more instances and show how a play that didn't work could have with just a small variation in the screen, detail the versatility of the Duncan-Parker P&R attack, and see why Tony taking so many mid-range jumpers against the Lakers on Tuesday night was far from an accident.
Splitter-Parker pick and roll
In the first post I explained that by slipping the screen Blair made it easier for the Laker defense to recover. Let's see how it goes with Splitter setting the pick.
When a good P&R defender is on a guy like Tiago, who has no range, it usually limits the ball handler's options when the roller slips the screen. When the screen is solid (as it is here), the ball handler has the upper hand on the defense. Here, Sessions is guarding the ball handler and Gasol is the secondary defender.
Since the screen is very good, Sessions gets caught in it. Tony is now facing a back-pedaling Gasol one-on-one. From there, Tony has three options. He can wait for Tiago to roll (which in this case wouldn't be wise since World Peace is ready to help) punish Metta for cheating off Green by swinging the ball to Danny Green, or take the mid-range jumper.
He goes for the jumper. This early in the game that's the right choice. If the defense has to respect Parker's mid-range game, a lot more space is going to be open later on. He also could have given the ball to Green, who is completely alone since World Peace had to help on Tiago's usually devastating rolling attack.
Duncan-Parker pick and roll
In the first post I mentioned that Timmy's range adds a different wrinkle to the Spurs P&R attack. Here's a variation of the second play from the previous post. Instead of passing to an open Duncan, Parker is the one who takes the shot here.
The play starts like the one from the previous post except Sessions is the one guarding Parker. Duncan sets a great screen for Parker to go to his strong hand and Sessions goes over under it, which leaves him trailing Tony.
With Sessions caught on the screen, Parker has Bynum guarding him, but as we know, Bynum stays in the paint when defending the pick and roll. Green and Leonard are spacing the floor in the corners, so the Lakers can't afford to send a third defender to Tony.
Parker pulls up before Sessions recovers with Bynum closing out late. The Spurs get an open jumper out of a simple P&R play by recognizing that Bynum can’t help in the perimeter. Had Sessions gone under the screen, Duncan would have been open like he was in the play I looked at in yesterday's post.
Tony taking that many mid-range jumpers seemed odd, but after looking how he manages to get open by running basic P&R sets, it makes a lot more sense. If Tony can keep making those Js, the Lakers will eventually adjust but the Spurs have enough weapons to counter. Building an attack on the mid-range game is dangerous but when you can consistently get open looks for one of your best players by simply attacking off the P&R you have to go for it. Without dangerous 3-point shooters spacing the floor, the Lakers would simply pack the paint, neutralizing the P&R.
Bonus round: Manu and Bonner force the switch
I included one of my favorites plays featuring Bonner in the last post so I'll include one that helps illustrate why Matt helps the team so much on offense even when he's not shooting.
As anyone who has ever seen a Spurs game knows, Matt Bonner is not a threat rolling to the basket. That being said, his 3-point shooting makes him a great pick and pop player. So good in fact, that just his presence on the court helps create mismatches. Here, Bonner sets a high pick for Manu at the top of the arc as Barnes and Murphy defend.
Bonner's pick is good enough that Barnes gets caught in it. Murphy has to show hard on that high screen since Manu, unlike Tony, can pull up for a 3 off the dribble. With any other Spur setting the pick, Barnes would rush back to Manu to prevent the mismatch.
Since Barnes has to respect Bonner's range, he instead stays with Matt, leaving Murphy one-on-one with Manu. In this particular play, Manu tried to make Murphy pay for sagging off by launching a 3 (that missed), but he could have taken Murphy off the dribble. If Manu had hit the 3, Bonner would have gotten a +3 without doing anything other than setting a screen. Will Bonner be as valuable in the playoffs? Who knows. But it's pretty evident what he contributes to the offense on a nightly basis during the regular season.
Go Spurs FO Go! Grade A for key pick ups this summer!
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