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.
While many thought that the Los Angeles Lakers would easily deal with the New Orleans Hornets, they have now found themselves in a dogfight. With the series tied 2-2, the Lakers are going to need to make a few adjustments if they want to take an advantage in this series.
Offense: More Cuts
One of the most underrated aspects of the Lakers' triangle offense is that it creates plenty of cutting opportunities and passing lanes for the team to take advantage of. Over the course of the regular season, the Lakers did exactly that, scoring 1.32 points per possession, which was good for No. 2 in the league. However, during the postseason, the Lakers haven't been finishing their cuts, scoring just 1.07 points per possession on cuts, which is No. 15 among 16 playoff teams. Naturally, one of the reasons for the drop in efficiency has been the finishing ability of a certain 7-footer. During the regular season, Pau Gasol was one of the biggest benefactors of these cuts, but so far this postseason, he has been struggling.
This play is a perfect example of Gasol's inability to finish off of the cut. Here, Kobe Bryant breaks down his man and hits Gasol, who flashes to the weakside block. When Gasol makes the catch, instead of going right up with it, he brings the basketball down (something that almost never happened during the regular season). Gasol bringing the basketball down allows Emeka Okafor to range over and get the block as Gasol goes up for the shot.
Defense: Keep The Hornets Off Of The Offensive Glass
With the Lakers' size advantage you would expect the defensive glass wouldn't be a problem. However, in Game 4, the Hornets were able to grab 13 offensive rebounds. The rebounds were a direct result of poor rotations on the defensive end:
Here, Jarrett Jack breaks down his man and gets to the rim, forcing Andrew Bynum to range over and help. Bynum misses the blocked shot attempt and Jack is able to get the ball up on the rim. With Bynum coming over and helping, it is Steve Blake's responsibility to rotate over and box out Aaron Gray. This rotation happens, but Blake has no chance to box out Gray and he is unable to prevent the tip in.