Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:33 pm Post subject: West round 1: Los Angeles @ Barcelona
The Lakers take the time machine to Spain as Clyde, Chales & Co. face off against Hakeem Olajuwon and top seed Barcelona in the first round of the ATL western conference playoffs. Aabs makes the rule call.
Barcelona picks Old School Rules. No Zone, Handchecks Allowed.
C- Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon
PF- Shawn "Baby's Daddy" Kemp
SF- Larry "Grandmama" Johnson
SG - Alvin "Doberman" Robertson
PG - Penny "For Your Thoughts" Hardaway
C - Bob Lanier - 38 MPG
PF - Charles Barkley - - 40 MPG
SF - Antawn Jamison - 33 MPG
SG - Lou Hudson - 27 MPG
PG - Walt Frazier - 40 MPG
Michael Cooper - 26 MPG
Maurice Lucas - 22 MPG
Gerald Wallace - 20 MPG
Chris Gatling - 15 MPG
Cedric Maxwell - 13 MPG
Jim Cleamons - 9 MPG
LaPhonso Ellis - 7 MPG
In this series, I plan to spread the floor and exploit defensive mismatches with Barcelona players playing out of their natural position. Walt Frazier is the anchor of my team, and the offense operates through him. With Penny on him, Frazier has a significant quickness advantage and will get in to the lane at will. My team will run a motion based offense relying heavily on pick and roll with Barkley and Frazier. Barkley and Jamison can roam and free up the lane.
When pick and roll isnt available, the Lakers will use a 1-4 offensive set, running thru the post to utilize Barkley, as well as Frazier as the initiator. The ball goes in to Barkley in the post, who can either hit a cutting Lou Hudson (the best scorer in the series), Walt Frazier in side post (can then screen n roll, pick n pop, etc) or operate in man to man against Shawn Kemp in a mediocre year. By utilizing the 1-4, I give my main options, Barkley and Frazier, the most opportunities for creativity and success on offense - while still spreading the floor with dangerous scorers at every position. Here is a brief run thru of the 1-4 set
Another offensive set the Lakers will run out of the "UCLA Set" is a pick and spacing based half court set. These plays are best illustrated here -
The play at the 1:40 mark would be run with Barkley on the high post instead of Lanier, in triple threat position, setting a back pick for Frazier who can then either create for himself, roll back to Barkley or kick to Lou Hudson who is excellent from outside. The adjustment would be made rather than having the 1-5-3 run the play, to better suit my starting lineup. In option 2, Lanier will be able to pin down and create a 1 on 1 situation with Olajuwan to either score or create a foul problem for Hakeem. In option 3, Barkley's versatility allows him to move out to the perimeter and free up the taller Jamison to post against LJ. Jamison's size advantage will be a distinct mismatch in the series. If Olajuwon comes over to help on Jamison we have Lanier at the basket and Frazier outside for the 2 man game. Very hard to stop.
This is the basis of the offense the Lakers will run, exploiting mismatches and utilizing the strengths of Frazier at PG, Barkley as a versatile PF, Jamison and Hudson on the wing and Lanier down low.
Looking at the numbers, the Lakers starters, averages added up, are around 122 pts a game. Obviously these numbers are inflated and would come down somewhat on a team of All Stars, but with everyone on the floor averaging 25 pts and Frazier at 20 and 7, the Lakers will have no problem operating a successful offense. While the Lakers have 4 players averaging over 25 pts starting, Barcelona has 3 averaging under 20. Offense clearly goes to the Lakers in this matchup. Barcelona's bench doesnt worry me defensively and I see few guys that could create problems for my bench. The majority of the Lakers bench offense comes from Gerald Wallace, Michael Cooper and Maurice Lucas - but it all depends on matchups. My team is very versatile and that gives me an edge as far as bench rotation.
Overall the Lakers will run an offensive system that utilizes their strong points at 1 and 4, while freeing up 2 and 3 and positioning 5 to take their best player (Olajuwon) out of the picture. The Lakers should succeed on offense in this series.
The Lakers were built on defense and I am confident they are the superior defensive team in this matchup. Again, it starts with my floor general - Walt Frazier. Arguably the best defensive point guard ever will be assigned to Penny Hardaway initially, and can more than handle him on the perimeter. But Hardaway wont just see Frazier - I will rotate my 6th man and defensive specialist Michael Cooper on him for stretches, as well as Gerald Wallace, who put up over 2 steals and 2 blocks a season in the year I drafted him. Cooper is an all time great defensively, with Larry Bird calling him the greatest defender he ever saw. Penny Hardaway will not be a problem for my team, considering the defensive rotation I will put on him.
At SG, Alvin Robertson doesnt concern me offensively. I dont expect Barcelona to feature him much offensively, as his purpose will be to stop Lou Hudson on the other end. In fact, at 6'5 I'd even experiment with allowing Hudson to roam off Alvin Robertson and help on Penny Hardaway or Larry Johnson certain spots. Robertson will spend the series chasing Lou Hudson and trying to cut in to his 27 PPG, so I don't feel he will be much of a factor offensively.
Antawn Jamison will be matched up against Larry Johnson at the 3 spot. With a height differential and length advantage, Jamison will frustrate LJ all series. Gerald Wallace, one of the best defenders in the NBA, will also share minutes defending Johnson in this series. I don't see Larry Johnson having a big series and feel Jamison could hold him to a few pts fewer than his averages. Jamison/Wallace will mostly be in one on one situations though, as the primary help will be inside. If LJ is doing damage in the post I can throw Maurice Lucas, Cedric Maxwell or Chris Gatling, all defensive minded, rebounding PFs on him and shut that down as well.
The battle at power forward should be an interesting one. Charles Barkley vs Shawn Kemp. I see Barkley having success defensively, he finished his career among the all time leaders in steals and blocks. A dominant rebounder and defender, Barkley's tenacity will wear on Kemp all series. At only 18 PPG, Kemp is not my primary concern defensively, and Barkley should more than hold his own on this end.
The one area I see the Lakers having some trouble defensively is at Center. Theres no way around it - Olajuwon is Barcelona's best offensive option. However, I believe the Lakers can adequately slow down his production. Bob Lanier is no slouch defensively, putting up over 3 blocks a game and bringing a reputation as a tough, physical center. Hakeem is primarily a post player and shouldnt be able to exploit Lanier's lack of speed.
Lanier will play him tough and physical all series. But if Hakeem is having success, the Lakers have a multitude of players that can quickly double the post and get the ball away from him or force difficult shots. Michael Cooper and Gerald Wallace will both be on Alvin Robertson and have the green light to double Olajuwon if the spacing is right. Lou Hudson can do it in situations as well. Honestly, Petrovic is the only one that would require my defense to stay home. Otherwise the Lakers plan to double Olajuwon, get the ball out of his hands and make things difficult inside. Maurice Lucas, Chris Gatling and Cedric Maxwell are all tough defenders who could see time here as well, to keep bodies fresh and stay out of foul trouble.
The Lakers biggest strengths are defense and versatility. With a number of players who can slide to different positions (Barkley, Jamison, Wallace, Cooper, etc) I can move them around depending on the lineup. Cooper gives me the best defensive 6th man in the league, and he will see extended time in this series. Penny's size differential is an issue, but by throwing different defenders at him (including Wallace) I should be able to neutralize it.
Barcelona's only real advantage 1-5 is Hakeem Olajuwon, and he will be the center of my defensive focus. The rules of no zone and hand checking actually benefit my squad of tough, defensive minded, old school players.
Objectively, I feel the Lakers are primed for an upset with great defensive matchups in this series.
My closing lineup is essentially the starting lineup, only with Michael Cooper at 2 instead of Lou Hudson depending on the defensive assignments. Frazier and Barkley are clutch and will continue to have the offense run through them in the last few minutes. I have several players with championship experience and can rely on veterans like Maxwell at the end of games if necessary. But my options dont change in the last few minutes, and my squad wont change the gameplan unless the defense dictates it.
Barcelona has two areas they will likely try to capitalize on - PG and C. The two most important positions on the court. But what they aren't expecting is the depth and versatility to counter these spots. On paper, Penny has a distinct size advantage playing PG. But he will see several all world defenders and be forced to handle the rock like a PG if he wants to succeed in this series. Penny did have success in the 94-95 regular season, but ultimately was swept in the Finals. He's back on the big stage - can he handle the pressure against a lineup of defenders coming after him? Olajuwon will face similar trouble with Lanier, Barkley, Maxwell, Lucas and Gatling all ready to assist in guarding him. He will put up points, but will it be enough - especially with some questionable offensive options on the floor with him?
Barcelona likely wants to spread the floor and run the offense inside out, through Olajuwon and Penny. My defense is structured around this, and I think it would be clear pretty quickly that this gameplan is in trouble.
In Case of Emergency
Depth and versatility comes back to my advantage here. If Barkley and Lanier arent able to contribute, my bench can produce without much of a dropoff. Ive got Hall of Famers, DPOYs, and a mean group looking to prove they are the better team. I feel the Lakers have the superior bench in this series and think Barcelona can really only go 8 deep.
The Lakers present clear advantages on both ends of the court. Offensively, just look at the scoring averages of the players on both teams. Its not close. Ive got numerous weapons and there isnt anybody the other team can take away without others stepping up to handle the scoring. My bench is productive and more than capable of filling in. The Lakers will run offensive sets that maximize their strong points and create mismatches for the other team.
But defense is what wins championships - and again, the Lakers are very prepared. With a roster of all time greats and HOF defenders, Frazier, Cooper, Lanier, Barkley, Wallace and Lucas are ready to go to work on the defensive end and shut down this team at its two areas of strength. Another aspect of Barcelona, and one that I feel has been overlooked, is the "big name" factor. Its what helped them get a #1 seed, but when it comes down to it, several of these players are selected in down years and none of the statistics are particularly impressive outside of Hakeem and Penny. The Lakers are smooth, versatile, deep, solid on both ends of the court and ready to pull off an upset...at least according to the seeds.
With the great perimeter defender they have in Frazier and Cooper we have to counter this with two great ball handler. Penny and Alvin have played their careers predominantly at PG. There is noone on their team that can defend Hakeem:
Lanier – too slow
Barkley – too short
Lucas – not big enough or fast enough
Gatling/Ellis/Jamison – are you kidding me?
If they double, Hakeem has developed his game that he can find the open man 3.6 apg.
We will fastbreak when the opportunity presents itself. Penny with alley oops to Kemp/Young LJ, Hakeem cleaning up or Drazen trailing for the threeeeee.
When the fastbreak is not there, we run our offense like this.
This offense isolates Hakeem on Lanier on the low blocks with Penny as the feeder.
Two screens are set. LJ sets pick for Hakeem (Causing either a Barkley on Hakeem at the low blocks or Lanier getting there late) then Kemp sets Pick for LJ freeing LJ up at the weakside wing. The result is a Penny @ 6-7 being the post feeder to an isolated Hakeem on the low blocks. We reverse the ball to the weakside will be LJ isolated on the wing.
Power Offense. 20% http://www.cybersportsusa.com/hooptactics/power.asp
We will run this when JO substitutes for Kemp and Petrovic subs for Robertson)
JO and Hakeem sets down screens for Petrovic and LJ. Penny picks his poison. JO or Hakeem on the low blocks, Drazen for the three or LJ iso on the wing.
SECOND OPTION – Penny’s playmaking ability
Ucla Offense. 20% http://www.cybersportsusa.com/hooptactics/ucla.asp
In this offense, as Penny passes to the wing (LJ or Majerle) Hakeem sets a high post pick for Penny. Couple of options: If wing denies the ball, we clear the SF to other side and have Penny and Hakeem run a Pick and Roll. Actually we will run a couple of P&R this way, using the SF as a decoy. Showing wing entry then backdoor.
Four Down 10% http://www.cybersportsusa.com/hooptactics/FOURDOWN.asp
Offense will be run with Hakeem, JO, LJ, Petrovic and Hardaway.
LJ will ISO up top vs. Jamison , Hakeem and JO on the blocks with Petrovic 45% and Hardaway .35% Camping out at three land.
Another variation of the four down will be run with. Hakeem, JO, Majerle, Petrovic, Hardaway.
Hardaway iso up top, Hakeem and JO on the blocks with Petrovic .45% and Majerle .39% camping out at three land
Defensively we will start out with the basic man to man.
We will have Alvin Robertson pressure the point (Frazier or Cooper) Purpose of this is so they start their offensive sets with less time. Their best offensive player is Charles Barkley, so we will start the game by putting Hakeem on Barkley. Hakeem is bigger, quicker and just as strong. We feel Kemp has the strength and athleticism to handle Lanier. Coopers is their best outside shooter, but he is a stand still set shooter and Penny will be able to defend this. Cooper’s outside shooting is good because he had Magic Johnson setting him up. Frazier isn’t Magic Johnson.
There will be occasional Double teaming vs their team. When Lanier gets the ball on the blocks we will double hard and force him to be a playmaker (4 TO’s per game) We feel we can match up defensively with their players. As substitution goes. JO will substitute for either Kemp or Hakeem. He will defend Barkley. Barkley seems to have problems offensively vs guys that are tall, long as athletic or as strong as him. With Hakeem, Kemp, LJ, JO, we feel we will own the defensive boards.
They run a P&R. vs who? Alvin and Hakeem? Alvin and JO? I have guys that are defensive anchors for their team in Hakeem and JO. A DPOY at the PG a DPOY at the C and just tons of toughness and athleticism on the team.
Anyone they bring off the bench we can match up with athletically and defensively. Their two best outside shooter is Cooper and Hudson. The guys defending against them will stay at home. As indicated, our team will play their team straight up defensively. Our two best big men defender will take turns on Barkley. Garbage baskets will be hard to come by for Jamison.
Closing the game will be a fully rested starting lineup. JO’s ability to play C and PF at a high level ensures that Hakeem and Kemp will be rested and at peak efficiency closing the game. Penny and Alvin’s ability to share the PG position saves the wear and tear of both guys during the game. With LJ, Hakeem, Kemp, JO, Majerle and Penny the front court minutes are divided efficiently so the starters can close. The same can be said for the backcourt. Majerle’s ability to play G and the switchability of Alvin and Penny to run the point helps this team. To give both Alvin and Penny some rest, we can also have LJ bring the ball up vs Jamison.
Looking at LA’s roster there are a couple of things that I feel his team intends to do.
Establish either Barkley or Lanier – I addressed how we will defend this.
Ball Pressure w/ Walt and/or Cooper – I have a double point guard system and LJ can bring the ball up court.
If he goes BIG with Barkley, Lucas and Lanier – We can rebound with them and WE WILL RUN that lineup to the ground. The speed of Hakeem, Kemp, LJ vs Plodders like Lucas and Lanier?
In Case of Emergency
If Hakeem gets in foul trouble covering Barkley, we will give Bison Dele some time defending Barkley. Bison is also long and athletic.
If Barkley gets hot, we will help Hakeem with a hard double from Penny (6-7 and is taller than Barkley) or Majerle or Bring JO in to defend Barkley with Hakeem going back to defending their C and being the anchor. Barkley has to get by Two big, quick athletic seven footers to get his shot.
If one of my PG’s (Penny or Alvin) gets in foul trouble, Our team will help with the ball handling (taking the ball upcourt) by having LJ take it up vs. either Barkley or Jamison.
We win because we have addressed the issue of their best player by putting a DPOY to defend him. They will say that this will tire out Hakeem, we feel differently in the sense that JO gets roughly 22-28 minutes in this game and he will be assigned to Barkley when he comes in. JO on Barkley and Hakeem anchoring the defense. We set up our offensive gameplan to feature the League MVP. Freeing Hakeem up and using downscreens to create mismatches with our bigs. Penny being a tall PG and his running mate Alvin being another PG helps in alleviating ball pressure vs our team. It also helps to have LJ bring the ball up court. We feel we addressed the issues of his team strength and showed the various problems his team will encounter with ours.
Defensively, the first change we see is Hakeem moved onto Barkley to negate the low post. I think that's a reasonable assumption of what would happen. Hakeem is a great low post defender and excellent defensive anchor. Barkley, however, is also an adept perimeter player and could hit clutch shots from outside.
Kemp and JO playing opposite Hakeem will anchor the D decently with Hakeem on the perimeter. This can pose some problems. Post play will be difficult to come by from the PF and C spots. L.A. will be able to use Jamison against LJ with some success, but inside-out play via the post will be somewhat tricky. The offense will most certainly run through Frazier.
Offensively, Barcelona will be looking to establish the post and collapse the D and kick to open men. Hakeem will cause problems and they will use this to their benefit. He will make the dynammic defensive guards of L.A. less effective on their own men. The softest spots of the L.A. defense, however, don't get destroyed by the SF/PFs on the Barcelona team.
Defensively, L.A. will unleash the dogs on Barcelona's guards. The combination of Frazier and Cooper will be tough on Penny. Hudson, coop and Wallace will also sag off the SG spot to help with the post. They will make Robertson try to beat them from the perimeter, Coop and Wallace also providing some terrific weakside shotblocking. Jamison and Wallace will comfortably handle the job at the SF. The PF spot seems to be a wash. The real issue will come down to how L.A. is able to contain Olajuwan.
The doubles on Hakeem will come fast and furious. The quick hands of L.A.'s perimeter players will force Hakeem to keep his head moving. When it comes to crunch time, someone else will have to take the big shots.
L.A. plans to run a lot of pick and roll offensively. Using Barkley in these will require Hakeem to help off him quite a bit as Robertson gets screened. Despite some good D, this should still be an effective weapon as Barkley is flexible and adept at the pick and pop and strong enough to finish inside on the roll even against some good help defenders. If he was a less versatile player, the Robertson/Olajuwan defensive duo would lock it down.
With Hakeem on the perimeter more as Barkley moves outside, there will be some more space to work. Barcelona is used to clogging the lanes and creating and effective no-fly zone. However, the perimeter game at the PF spot allows for more room for the L.A. guards to work. Frazier goes on the attack.
L.A.'s first couple points of attack were via the pick and roll, which works...and then Barkley in the post, which does not. Barcelona caught the Lakers off guard by throwing Olajuwon on him. Barkley decides to pull his man away from the hoop and attack off the dribble. He gets a foul on Olajuwon early, but forces the issue too much. The offense stagnates a bit as it goes into iso ball. They trail early, but once Barkley takes his foot off the gas and pulls Olajuwon on the perimeter, the floor opens up for the rest of the team. Frazier attacks relentlessly. Lanier has some effectiveness in the post. They make a run and catch and pass Barcelona near the end of the first half.
Barcelona realizes at halftime that despite the playoff seedings, this L.A. team matches up well enough to cause a variety of problems. The sick irony of Kupchak's injury and the ability to use the magic wand on himself is not lost...and he's even going up against the Lakers, of all teams. Should he have wanded himself? Will that be their undoing?
Hakeem goes to work to start the second half. The Dream Shake has Lanier nailed to the floor on several possessions. On the other end, Frazier continues to attack off screens. The old school rules and the floor spread favor his dribble penetration.
The L.A. guards ability to sag and help the interior and not get burned by prolific three shooting, clog down the offense. Late in the game, this becomes a problem. Hakeem gets taken out by the doubles and doesn't have his clutch go-to perimeter guys like Horry and Cassell to bail him out. The interior game now turns into a series of tough turnaround jumper attempts. The game is tied in the final minute.
The ball goes into Barkley's hands to iso on Hakeem. More comfortable with the matchup now versus earlier in the game, he goes to work (one wonders if Hakeem shouldn't have been placed on him as a switch up late in the game vs. early). Sir Charles fakes an attack with speed, pulls up and hits the game winner from the perimeter. The perfect storm has undone a powerful Barcelona squad.
When the fans have cleared out of the arena, they wonder what just happened to their team. Was it one thing or a series of small things like old school rules and certain match ups? An injured Mitch Kupchak, arms hugging his knees, is found rocking back and forth in dark corner of the arena. We look closer and he is clutching something. It's his wand. He looks shellshocked. We hear him whispering:
Los Angeles on offense:
The Lakers assume Penny defends Frazier, setting up Clyde to take Hardaway off the dribble and create in a spread floor. The Lakers assume Kemp defends Barkley and Charles can operate from the post as a triple threat. Choosing not to bend over so willingly, Barca instead puts DPOY Alvin Robertson on Clyde and DPOY Hakeem Olajuwon on Chuck. TKO on the first punch thrown. Down goes Frazier!
Lanier can back down Kemp but he’s not the efficient team playmaker that Frazier or Barkley would be. If Lanier becomes the focal point he can score but can’t create well for others. ATO ratio under 1. Barkley can take Hakeem further out but Olajuwon’s length is going to limit Chuck to fadeaways. Barkley can get streaky hot but can’t consistently hit with Olajuwon on him.
Robertson’s 3.7 spg comes in handy against Clyde, along with his ability to anticipate and defend aggressively over screens. Defensively he was Payton before Payton, with faster hands. Robertson and Olajuwon defending pick and roll would arguably be the best defensive combination in history against that play. They shut it down completely. LA is left with Lanier, Tawn and Hudson to create for the team. Game over.
Barcelona on offense;
On offense Barcelona uses a baseline screen to set up Olajuwon low block against a late arriving Lanier or Barkley/Jamison in a switch. Two points. Other sets use Penny as a playmaker and LJ as a midrange threat, Frazier gets his steals but those sets will have success. Lanier got his swats by standing under the hoop and waiting for the offense to come to him. Hakeem takes him further out and it’s speed vs. statue. Barca gets consistent high percentage scores all night.
Caron staked everything on the core assumption that Aabs would play into his hands by putting weaker defenders on his two playmakers. Got two of the best defenders in history instead and the ultimate p/r defensive pair. Barca blowout.
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