Each day, we are going to preview the night's NBA Playoffs action by looking at the adjustments that can be made by the losing team and showing what they can do to win.
In addition to the Spurs' loss, another shocker in the Western Conference was the Los Angeles Lakers losing to Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets. While this win for the Hornets did have a flukey tone to it with guys like Aaron Gray, Jarrett Jack and Willie Green having big games, there are some adjustments that need to be made if the Lakers want to avoid going down 0-2 in this series.
Offense: Less Isolation
When you play the Los Angeles Lakers, you expect a heavy dose of isolation offense, especially from Kobe Bryant. Over the course of the regular season, the Lakers were the No. 4 team in the NBA in terms of PPP scoring 0.90 points per possession, running isolation 14.46 percent of the time. In Game 1, the Lakers ran isolation 19.23 percent of the time, or 18 total possessions. This might seem like a shot at Kobe, but that's far from the case. Bryant is going to get his isolation possessions (he got nine of them in Game 1); the problem I have is the other guys isolating too much. For example, Lamar Odom was isolated four times (for three points) and Derek Fisher was isolated once (for zero points). These are the type of possessions the Lakers' offense needs to avoid:
Here, the Lakers try to get into their triangle and enter the basketball to Andrew Bynum on the block. Unable to get it there, they are forced to kick it out to Fisher. Fisher then takes a really tough jumper, even though Bynum has solid position for a post up opportunity. Fisher gets bailed out by a great Shannon Brown play, but that isn't the point here. The point is that the Lakers wasted too many possessions going away from what they do well (running the triangle), and putting the basketball in the hands of guys like Fisher and Odom and expecting them to create on the outside.
Defense: Better Pick-And-Roll Defense
It is no secret that the Lakers got destroyed by the Hornets' pick-and-roll offense, specifically Chris Paul, and that is one of the major reasons why the Hornets were able to come away with the win. There is a great post over at Land O' Lakers where they talked to the Lakers' coaching staff and looked at a few adjustments that the Lakers need to make. One of them was particularly interesting:
Following Sunday's loss, Jackson noted his bigs needed to do a better job in support of the guards. Andrew Bynum said Monday he plans to do his part. "When you're playing teams that don't post the ball [frequently], you kind of get lax and stand up and down. I could be a bit more active in patrolling the lane and dealing with those floaters.
The Lakers' pick-and-roll defense is designed to give up midrange jumpers (it is mentioned a little lower in the above article), but they don't want to give up lay-ups and floaters. This is where Andrew Bynum comes in:
Paul comes off of the screen and attacks the rim. Bynum lets his former teammate D.J. Mbenga cut him off and prevent him from meeting Paul in the paint. This is what allows Paul to get off the open lay-up. The Lakers can live with Paul knocking down a few midrange jumpers (this is something that Paul does well), but they can't allow him to get open lay-ups on top of the midrange jumpers, that is where there pick-and-roll defense fell apart in Game 1 and it forced the Lakers to try a number of different pick-and-roll defenses (including hedging and switching), all of which failed miserably.
If the Lakers are meeting Paul at the paint when he comes off of ballscreens instead of letting him get all of the way to the rim, the Lakers have a pretty good chance of at least slowing down the Hornets' pick-and-roll game.