Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:03 pm Post subject: East round 1: Manila @ Harlem
Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater has been converted to an arena for the ATL playoffs. How long a run at the Apollo is the question. After winning the Empire Divison and taking the east's top seed, the Knights expect to go to the Finals. The 1st round opponent a mirror image in some ways, hsenation's Manila Folders. Harlem coach 2Cleva makes the call on rules.
The winner plays the victor of New York v. Sweden.
Sky...I think the stat line you used for Richmond was the per 36 minutes instead of per game stats. Only slight changes though. _________________ There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body.
In this set, McHale is in the low post, Mourning at the foul line, Johnson on one wing, Richmond on the opposite wing at the three point line, and Parker at the top of the key. This takes Duncan/Sampson away from the basket. Depending on which elbow Mourning stations himself, we have various options. Elbow opposite McHale, McHale is the first option at the post, second option is high pick and roll with Mourning and Richmond or Parker. Elbow parallel with McHale, isolation for Richmond, Johnson or Parker on the opposite side of the court. Finally, Mourning one on one against Duncan/Sampson can drive to the basket.
In this set, McHale is at left post, Mourning on the right post. Richmond and/or Johnson will run off the picks on the baseline. We will look for Richmond or Johnson to get shots off the picks or rub off corner and penetrate into the lane. If help comes down to stop the ball, we can pass out for the open shot.
Offensive Game Plan:
Establish McHale in the post
McHale is an unstoppable scorer in the post and one of the cornerstones of our offense. If he is single covered, we are confident he will score or draw a foul.
As noted on NBA.com:
"He became the most difficult low-post player to defend -- once he made the catch -- in the history of the league," contended former NBA coach Hubie Brown in the Boston Globe. "He was totally unstoppable because of his quickness, diversification of moves and the long arms that gave him an angle to release the ball over a taller man or more explosive jumper."
McHale had a grab bag of drop steps, head fakes, pump fakes, baby jump hooks, shovel shots and fadeaways that confounded even the best defenders. Anyone who drew McHale as an assignment was in trouble. He had no preferred spot. He could set up on either the right or left box. He could take the turnaround from either the baseline or the middle and he had
We will use Richmond or Johnson to throw the entry pass into the post. If McHale is doubled, then we are more than happy to pass the ball out and rotate the ball to our trio of Richmond, Johnson or Parker to take open shots. Johnson shoots .550 overall, Parker shoots .520 overall and Richmond shoots .428 from 3 pt range. Finally, if necessary, McHale can come out of the post to get the ball and has the range to hit a midrange shot.
Pick and roll with Mourning and Parker, Richmond, or Johnson
With our high low set, we have a ready-made opportunity for a pick and roll with Mourning. He has the perfect combination of size, mobility and shooting range for the pick and roll or pick and pop. Parker is especially proficient with playing with a big man in the pick and roll, but Richmond or Johnson have the skills to handle the ball and take advantage of the mismatches. Mourning will be especially deadly going to the basket with a smaller man guarding him.
Isolate Richmond, Parker or Johnson
In addition to our powerful post game, we believe that we have skillful players who can take their defenders off the dribble. Richmond is used to being the number one option of an offense and was the 2nd best shooting guard in the league in the 90’s. His versatility allows him to not only drive to the hole, but post up his defender. See this video:
“I think he knows how to draw a foul going to the hole…He’s uncanny about getting to the basket and getting contact and getting the foul. Mitch is the kind of guy where you have to use your quickness. He’s not gonna give you the position where you can post him up. I’ve tried at every opportunity to let people realize he’s one of the best players in this game…he’s a superstar.”
“Mitch can get a guy in foul trouble because of his ability to play off the ball and with the ball in his hands. And then his defense is very fine. He’s as good a defensive player as Michael will find. He’s one of the few guys who tries and can post up Michael.”
Its obvious that MJ knows he can’t have his way with Richmond and that Richmond can and will take it to him. It is important for our overall gameplan that Richmond puts pressure on Jordan to expend energy on defense. And fortunately, Richmond has the game to do it.
In addition, Parker is super quick and even against top defensive guards will have opportunities to drive, especially if the attention of the defense is on other players. As he showed in the NBA Finals in 2007, against a stingy defense, Parker is capable of beating his man one on one. In the Finals he averaged a team-high 24.5 points and shot a team-best .568 (42-74) from the field.
Johnson is also used to being a key scorer, something that many people forget.
As noted in the John Wooden Award website:
“During his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, Marques Johnson was considered one of the three best forwards in the NBA, alongside Julius Erving and Larry Bird. Although best known for his scoring, Johnson was also a tenacious rebounder, an underrated defender, and had great playmaking abilities. While drawing the best defender the opposition had to offer, Marques was able to shoot better than 50% from the field in each of his 7 seasons with Milwaukee.”
Any of these three can be isolated and can create their own shots.
Richmond in motion around baseline screens
Again, one of the important goals of our team is to make Jordan expend energy. Besides isolation, one of the other ways we hope to accomplish that is by running Richmond around baseline screens for shots or eventual penetration into the lane. Whether he gets the ball or not, Richmond’s motion will keep Jordan occupied. And hopefully, get him tired and in foul trouble…I can hope, right?
Opportunistic fast break
Though our team is primarily a half court team, we will run if the opportunity to run exists. Parker has the ability to be a “one man fast break” with his quickness, but Richmond and Johnson also have the athleticism to get into transition. In addition, when the bench is in, we have players that can also get into transition, especially Tom Chambers and Raja Bell. We do not want the tempo to be too fastbreak oriented, as our strength is better utilized in the half court, but if the opportunity is there to get easy baskets we will take it.
Take advantage of lack of depth
We believe that one advantage we have over Harlem is a deeper bench. Blaylock and Bell are 1st team all defense and can score, McCray is a solid two way player, Chambers is a scoring machine and Willis is a rebounding machine. Our player talent level does not drop significantly when our bench is in the game. Our opponents will talk a big game about how “clutch” Horry is, but even with him, the overall talent level is weak. We believe our bench wins a match up against their bench. Their lack of depth will mean more minutes for Jordan and Duncan, which plays into our game plan to tire them out.
If they play Duncan on McHale instead of Sampson, we will continue to pound the ball down low to him. We want Duncan to expend energy, and guarding our best post man, puts him in danger of getting into foul trouble and tiring in the end.
If they switch Richardson on to Richmond and Jordan on to Parker, we will give Richmond more isolation and pick and roll opportunities. We believe that Richmond can post up Richardson with no problem.
If they double team McHale or the post in general, we will rotate the ball to find the open shot. Each of our players can hit from midrange to outside, including Mourning.
If Richmond tires, we will shift the focus of the isolations and pick and rolls to Johnson and Parker and let Richmond be the relief valve at the 3 point line.
If they try to pressure the ball or use a full court trap, we will bring Johnson and Mourning into the backcourt for help.
Man to man – Initial Assignments
Mourning on Duncan
McHale on Sampson
Johnson on Hill
Richmond on Jordan
Parker on Richardson
Defensive Game Plan:
Richmond and others make Jordan expend energy
As Jordan and Phil Jackson said, Richmond is a fine defender and he uses his strength against his opponents. Richmond will do the same to Jordan. Richmond’s strength takes away Jordan’s post up game and thus forces him to take shots out of his normal comfort zone. We will initially give Richmond the assignment on his own, but we will also use a rotation of our excellent bench defenders Bell and McCray to stay on Jordan and make him exert effort to score. We don’t expect to stop Jordan from scoring, but to make it more difficult for him.
Center by Committee on Duncan – physical, fronting, deny position
Initially, Mourning draws the assignment of Duncan. Despite his lack of height, Mourning has the strength and quickness to put pressure on Duncan. We will front Duncan, with pressure on the passer, and be physical with him to deny him position on the post. Mourning is known as a shot blocker, but he is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and he is tenacious on defense. It won’t be a walk in the park for Duncan. Besides, Mourning, we will also rotate McHale, Willis, Corzine, and even Chambers.
We will utilize our front court depth and put a constant body on Duncan. All the physical play, pushing to keep him off the block and fighting for position and rebounds will have the cumulative effect of slowing Duncan down, tiring him out. We will even mix in a double team from Parker to add to the challenge for Duncan. And with a lack of quality bench players, he can’t afford to be out of the game too long. Again, we don’t expect to shut Duncan down, we do expect to slow him down.
McHale shuts down Sampson
Kevin McHale gives Sampson nightmares. In the 1986 NBA Finals, McHale covered Sampson and forced him to shoot .438 and only average 14.8 ppg. Compared to Sampson’s regular season and playoff averages which were over .500 and over 20 ppg, it’s obvious that McHale DOMINATED Sampson. We fully expect that same result in this game and do not expect Sampson to be a significant factor offensively in this game. By the way, Sampson didn’t shut McHale down in that Final either, McHale averaged 25.8 ppg, shot .573 and 2.5 bpg.
Parker doubles off of Richardson and dares him to shoot from outside
Parker will play off of Richardson to prevent penetration. As much as we respect Richardson as a defender, we do not have the same expectation of his offensive game, especially his outside shooting. In fact, if we had to choose someone to take outside shots on Harlem, we would choose him. In an effort to slow Jordan we will double him with Parker. We will openly challenge Richardson to hit the shots that Paxson and Kerr hit for the Bulls – and won’t expect him to be as successful. This gives him the open shot. Take it, Sugar Ray, we dare you. Expect the same when Harper is in the game.
Johnson tight on Hill
The best outside shooter on the Harlem Knights is Jordan. The second best is the midrange shooter Hill. In addition, we expect that they will try to use Hill as the initiator of the offense. Because of this Johnson will play tight on Hill. He will stay home with him when Jordan penetrates to eliminate the “relief valve” open shot. In addition, because Johnson is as athletic as Hill and is a good defender, he will be Hill’s shadow. Wherever Hill goes, Johnson will be there.
Our depth will be utilized
Blaylock and Bell give us a strong defensive backcourt, that can be used if our starters get into foul trouble or are getting tire. McCray is capable of covering either Jordan or Hill. Willis and Corzine give us a strong powerful bench frontcourt. Even Chambers, who is not known as a defender, can contribute minutes in the Center by Committee. Our rotation will not be limited to a few players, we intend to use as many players as we can to counter Duncan and Jordan.
If they use a triangle offense, we will front the post and pressure the passers on the strong side to prevent the entry pass, and on the weak side we will prepare for the pick and roll or the rub off the screen. The weak side is where Jordan will be especially dangerous, but Richmond is big enough and strong enough to fight through the screen and body up on Jordan. If we can force Jordan into a jump shot we will consider it a victory.
If they utilize a pick and roll, after the screen we will put pressure on the passer and try to delay or prevent the pass to the big man. We will rely on quick rotation and help from one of our great frontcourt defenders, either McHale or Mourning.
In the end, our strongest group is our starters so they are who will close out the game. Our strength is our half court post up game and we will continue to get the ball into McHale’s hands. If that is not there, we will put the ball in the hands of Richmond or Johnson to create their own shots in isolation or off the pick and roll with Mourning. All three of these options put pressure on the defense and we are confident will lead to a score or a foul.
In the end, if we are in a last minute situation, we will be in the high low set, bring the ball up the court with Parker, run a play where Richmond is coming around the baseline screen of McHale and Johnson and Mourning are in position for pick and roll. Depending on what the defense gives us, we will either get the ball to Richmond for the shot off the screen, McHale in the post or let Johnson and Mourning run the pick and roll. Again, we are confident any of those options will lead to a basket or draw a foul.
Our defensive game plan is based on wearing down Duncan and Jordan and forcing another player to beat us. We will continue to use the same team defense principles to shut down our opponents in the end. Jordan will be doubled if he attempts to penetrate, Duncan will be doubled if they attempt to send the ball into the post. Our plan is to force the ball to someone other than Duncan or Jordan. We are confident that Sampson and Hill will be locked down. That leaves Richardson. And if he is the one who beats us, we can live with that.
We expect that with Duncan and Jordan that the Harlem Knights offensive game plan is based on letting them beat us. They will use Hill as a “Pippen” wanna-be and initiate the offense with him or let Sugar Ray penetrate into the lane. They will also expect Sampson to be the main beneficiary of a double team of Duncan. We wouldn’t blame them for thinking that way. But we believe that our defensive game plan is sound and with our depth, we have the players to execute it.
Early in the game, we think they will try and establish Duncan down low and as the game wears on, Jordan will become more involved in the offense. We expect that they will try to increase the tempo of the game with their defense. We will challenge the big two by being physical, giving them different looks and then try to force them to get their team mates involved. By the end of the game, we expect an exhausted Duncan and Jordan, who will at the very least not be at their best, and at worst, miss shots, turn the ball over and commit fouls.
On offense, we believe that our multitude of weapons will give Harlem problems. We will begin by establishing McHale and then get others involved. We want to slow the tempo down, keep things deliberate, and force them to play defense for the full 24 seconds. As Richmond and Johnson start getting more looks, Parker will become more effective penetrating or going on the “one man fastbreak”. The pick and roll, with Mourning at the heart, will be a strong weapon, later in the game. As we wear down their big two, they will have to depend on a weak bench to keep them in the game, and that is where our advantage will show. By the end of the game, we expect to have a lead and have the ability to hold it for the win.
In Case of Emergency
If our post offense is not working or if McHale gets into foul trouble, we will shift to a focus on our perimeter players, with more isolation, and pick and roll. If so, we will bring in Chambers to give us a different look, including a better pick and pop option and a solid outside shooter at the 4 position.
If Parker is having problems containing Richardson, before we bring Blaylock, we will bring in Bell and have either him, Richmond and/or Johnson bring the ball up court. This takes away the penetration of Parker, but gives us a better defender in the backcourt who is an excellent 3 pt shooter.
If Duncan AND Jordan are ripping us to shreds, then we will focus on stopping one of the two. That means double teams on Jordan or Duncan and letting the other be single covered. Choosing the lesser of two evils, we would leave Duncan single covered to do his thing and send more players to double and prevent Jordan from beating us. This opens us up for other players to get involved in the offense, but we must control at least one of the big two.
Our opponent was easily the number one seed, with Jordan and Duncan as the foundation of their team. On its face, this team is a “super team” and appears unbeatable, but look closer and the picture isn’t as obvious. The Harlem Knights team appears to be built similar to the Shaq-Kobe Lakers – two great superstars and a bunch of complementary players, right down to having Horry off the bench. That team enjoyed a lot of success, but they worked with a very small margin for error. The same can be said about Harlem. If their big two aren’t clicking, this team will struggle. But as talented as the big two are, even their complementary pieces aren’t ideal. Sampson is not a power forward who is effective away from the basket, so he clogs the lane for Duncan and Jordan. Richardson is not a great outside shooter, so when Jordan is prevented from penetrating, he has no Paxson or Kerr to pass to.
Obviously our game plan is to control the scoring of Duncan and Jordan, wear them out, get them out of their comfort zone, and shut down the rest of the team. If we can’t stop everyone, then we will put the pressure of success on their weakest link – their point guard. There is no great player coming off the bench for Harlem, so they will have to beat us with their starting five. We think our defensive game plan is sound and has a high likelihood of success.
On the other hand, they will have to contend with our multiple weapons on offense. Who do they stop, McHale, Richmond, Johnson, Mourning or Parker? We can beat them in many ways, from the low post, to penetration to perimeter shooting. Add a deep bench with skilled players at every position, and now, the true strength of the Manila Folders comes out. We are a complete team that can deal with any situation, on offense or defense. We are not intimidated by the marquee names because we know we are just as talented and we have a viable game plan to beat them.
In the end, we expect a close game, but ultimately this match up of the “super team” with two GOAT’s and a band of complementary players and our “total team“ that is consistently talented across the board will end with…a stunning upset victory by the Manila Folders
To start the playoffs, Harlem faces a team that is the lesser version of themselves. Manila has a nice roster penetrating PG, great shooter/scorer at SG, all-around playmaker at SF, post scorer at PF, defensive anchor at the 5, vets with defense, versatility, and shooting off the bench. The problem for Manila is that anything they can do, Harlem can do it and do it better.
Sugar Ray Richardson is bigger, just as quick, and can play both ways unlike Tony Parker.
Michael Jordan is better than Richmond in every way.
Grant Hill is a superior creator, scorer, and defender than Marques Johnson.
Tim Duncan has a cold efficiency to him that even Kevin McHale doesn’t have – plus, Tim can stretch his game outside and off the dribble.
Ralph Sampson has superior height and athleticism over Alonzo Mourning and has won playing next to a dominant post threat, not behind like Zo was off the bench in Miami.
Derek Harper, Kurt Thomas Robert Horry bring NBA Finals big-game experience with their shooting off the bench – on a stage guys like Mookie Blaylock, Tom Chambers, and Raja Bell only dream of being at.
A nice squad by Manila but unfortunately for them, they don’t have any advantages over Harlem at any position and the bottom line is the Knights file the Folders away forever.
Strengths – Post game of McHale
Quickness and penetration of Parker
Physical style of play
Weakness - No closer
Lack of playmaking/passing ability
Here is the breakdown of minutes for each player. I also created a breakdown of substitutions to insure MJ or Hill is always in the game as well as Duncan or Sampson. This maintains a balance of perimeter scorer/playmaking as well as interior anchor. As you see the rotation is also balanced to allow my closing lineup of each half to have Harper as PG with the rest of my starters or Horry in for Sampson as needed. Also, the rotation keeps MJ fresher to finish the game.
Two-man game 15%
Open court transition 10%
The Knights will be running the offense that has won 9 of the last 17 NBA Championships – the Triangle. Michael Jordan has faith in the offense, Tim Duncan runs very similar sets in the 4-Down system San Antonio runs, and Grant Hill’s abilities fits the initiator position to a T.
Combined with the entire roster, the floor balance the triangle brings will make it tough for teams to help out on defense and allows Harlem to pick we want to attack from. As we’ve seen over the years, the Triangle has its variations and Harlem will be using the best of them for its attack.
The primary option early is to establish the post with Duncan taking it at McHale in hopes of getting McHale in foul trouble. If Alonzo is on Duncan, Tim will look to be more of a facilitator early, hoping to score of face ups or on the repost to neutralize Zo’s shot blocking ability – similar to how LA ran the triangle through Shaquille O’Neal.
If Manila is able to defend that, Harlem switches to the duel initiators of MJ/Hill as they go to MJ/Scottie mode – taking turns going into the post and letting the screeners run off them, with Duncan on the weak side. This takes Manila’s lone defender in the starting lineup in Zo away from the basket as the athleticism and ability of MJ, Hill, and Sugar Ray attack the basket.
Although the team will mostly run the triangle, they still will look to push the ball and get an easy basket before the offense sets up. This utilizes Sugar Ray’s attacking style. Upon possession, the first pass will often bet to Sugar so he can push the tempo looking for easy buckets against the slower Manila team. Not only does this get easy scoring opportunities, Sugar’s ball-handling in the open floor also prevents Manila from trying to initially jam the triangle.
On defense, Harlem’s goal is to force Manila’s out of its comfort zone by:
1 – Being physical with Parker and using hand-checking to pick him up full-court. This keeps him from running and getting in the paint. Also, it hurts the shot clock which leads to....
2 – Play off Parker and Johnson on McHale to fall back in his lap and prevent McHale from getting the ball. When McHale does get the ball, defenders will use their length and force him to shoot over them. If the ball goes on the floor, then Duncan comes over to double and force him to make a play by passing.
3 – Manila likely knows how tough it will be on Parker and McHale from the start so he’ll try to use Johnson to attack Hill and hope Johnson can take over for them. Harlem will be ready for this by Hill playing off of him when he’s beyond the arc – daring him to take the 3. If he comes inside, Hill is crowding him – using his athleticism to funnel Johnson into Duncan. If need be, Parker’s man will collapse inside to attack his dribble – conceding any 3 attempts to Parker. If Mookie is in or Manila isos Johnson away from Parker, Hill
Despite Johnson touted as a “point-forward” he only averaged 3 assists playing next to George Gervin and World B Free. If he can’t get assists playing next to those two, how is he going to get them setting up McHale or Richmond? Parker as starting PG only averages 5.5. The best playmaker is on the bench in Blaylock and he mostly did it in transition, not creating in the half-court set.
Manila is really full of a lot of players used to someone setting them up without a person to set them up. Manila’s starters only average 16.9 assists per game (in comparison Harlem’s starters average 28.3) so the lack of ball movement combined with the lack of shooters will make it easier for Harlem to help whenever needed and recover – making it hard for Manila to score.
Stopping Parker and McHale are the primary goals. Jordan is always ready for Richmond and with MJ not having to carry the scoring load he’ll be ready. Manila may hope that Johnson can pick up the slack but Hill will give up the 3 to Johnson but crowd him when he’s closer and funnel him to the shot blockers inside.
The last hope for Manila is their 3-point shooters getting hot off the bench. Again, they lack the playmakers to get them the ball though and Harlem is rushing Blaylock, Bell, and Richmond off the line and funneling them into the towers of Duncan and Sampson.
How you will ensure that your closing lineup is rested to close, then who you put out there to get it done on both ends. Who do you go to, why does it work, how do you get stops and boards. How do you close it out?
To finish it off, Harper and Horry will join MJ, Duncan and Hill. Harper will hound. With Parker being ineffective in getting to the basket, we expect Mookie to be in the game, which Harper will stick with and keep him from getting good looks for 3. MJ will take care of Richmond, not giving up the jumper and forcing him towards help. Hill is on Johnson, again not giving up open looks and funneling him to the shot blockers. Sampson will still be on McHale with Duncan coming over to help. McHale’s lack of passing ability will be exploited, he won’t be able to make the plays to Zo for easy dunks and Harlem’s team speed will be able to recover when McHale has to kick it out and Parker/Mookie try to find Zo.
On offense, if McHale guards Duncan at all, MJ/Duncan go to the pick and roll game on the weak side of the defense and shred the Folders. However, Manila should put Zo on Duncan, which means triangle time with MJ posting up Richmond or Bell on the strong side with Harper and Horry spotting up next to him and Hill and Duncan on the weak side. Doubles of the Double Hs and MJ kicks it to them on 3s. Doubles from the weak side means Hill or Duncan is slashing to the basket. Iso on MJ means he’s taking Richmond or Bell one-on-one with no help in sight.
Harlem anticipates Manila, being less athletic at each position, will try a physical attack of defense in hopes to get the Knights off their game. Gooning tactics will be used to see if it shakes the team but MJ and Duncan have led teams past that too many times before. Physical style has been tried before against Jordan teams in a tougher era. Once he cracked it – neither the real Bad Boys in Detroit or Riley ball in New York could slow him down. And the Detroit Pistons hoped to do that against Duncan as well, yet Tim was the one going home with another ring. The steady vets of Harper and Horry are also known for their hardnosed play and ready to mix it up. Harlem has seen it all. So a clothesline by McHale on Duncan or from Bell on MJ will result in a hip-check into the scorer’s table by Horry on Parker or Kurt Thomas throwing an elbow. Harlem isn’t afraid to bring some rock and roll with the jazz.
As far as Xs and Os, Manila is built like a lesser-version of Harlem so I expect some of the similar attacks.
1 – He should put Zo on Duncan to not only prevent McHale from foul trouble but also to hide a weak defender. Harlem counters that by pulling Zo away from the basket and allowing MJ and Hill attack from the post with no shot blocker.
2 – Mookie has to play a lot because Parker not being able to survive the old-school rules and his lack of 3-point shooting will get exploited big-time by Harlem. Problem is he’s the closest thing they have to a finisher. Neutralizing Parker kills Manila’s transition and endgame.
3 – If he does plan on Parker being impact he believes Parker’s speed will allow him to get in the open floor. The team speed of Harlem nullifies that, as well as the shot blockers inside. Not to mention, Sugar Ray could slow down a better passer in Isaiah Thomas, he’d handle Parker fine.
4 – If it’s not McHale or Parker attacking, his last hope is Marques Johnson beating Grant Hill. Hill should be up to the task of slowing him down, especially with Duncan’s help defense behind him but if doesn’t work; Horry will play some SF and use his length to control him and take away his jumper.
In Case of Emergency
If MJ gets in foul trouble (a rarity with him only averaging 2.6 per game for his career), Hill slides over to play his role, attacking mostly off the dribble and the offense is ran through Duncan. McKie, 6th man of the year, joins the perimeter players if it’s for heavy minutes.
Biggest rotation factor is in my minute breakdown, I have it set so anytime MJ isn't on the floor, Hill will be. If interested, that rotation is created and can be sent. But the only reason MJ and Hill is out the game is if Harlem is winning a blowout.
If Duncan is in foul trouble (another rarity - he too averages only 2.6 per), I adapt as well. For starters, Duncan will be defending Zo, to prevent foul trouble. With Zo lacking in a back to the basket game, Duncan can easily help off him and block shots but not fall for McHale’s fakes – Sampson will be there for that. If Duncan did have to sit, Harlem would push more for up-tempo on offense and go with a speed team, while using a trapping defense on the inside to keep Manila outside.
Bottom line – Manila is the little brother who can’t get by the big brother. Every way they have of attacking, Harlem has a better counter. And when it comes to crunch time, Harlem is a team of star closers with brass ones, something Manila hasn’t grown. They may puff their chests out and try to intimidate but that’s just to mask the lack of premiere players to win.
No matter what the try, the folders will eventually be put where they belong – File 13.
Basically two teams that play the same with one another. But big difference is that Harlem basically has a lineup composed of player upgrades over Manila.
Whatever Manila has, Harlem has better. Whatever Manila can do, Harlem can do better. And what better than having the player arguably considered the greatest of them all playing for Harlem in Michael Jordan.
Simply put, Harlem basically overpowers Manila in this one. Winning all quarters and ending the game with a 15 point lead.
Great matchup here. Need to clean some things up first as Harlem is apparently home of the Knights and the Whopper. Harlem brought some junk into the lane that begs to be swatted into the Hudson.
“This takes Manila’s lone defender in the starting lineup in Zo away from the basket.” Kevin McHale was a six-time All-D selection, three 1st, three 2nd. Meanwhile Zo made all-D twice. Richmond and Johnson didn’t receive any awards but both were respected for their 2-way play. Though in Rock’s case he was a lighter and quicker defender in years earlier than the season selected. In this one he’s carrying the Sac offense at 31. At this point in his career he’s more powerful than quick, a back down force/scoring machine but less of a defender. Johnson is picked early career when he had more speed.
“Despite Johnson touted as a “point-forward” he only averaged 3 assists playing next to George Gervin and World B Free”. The Iceman is thrilled to hear that in an alternate universe Marques played in San Antonio and Gervin is asking for his alternate ring. World is just asking for the ball.
Harlem establishes that they have better starters. They do, but better players is only part of it, it’s how you use them that defines your fate.
Manila on offense
McHale has Sampson on him and Ralph lacks the leg strength to deny position. McHale sets up so deep he hits oil. Hill is sagging off Marques to disrupt post entry but there’s too much distance when McHale is anchored that deep. In order to deny post entry Hill would have to back down well below the ft line and elbow was Johnson’s sweet spot. Can’t deny both at the same time, Hill is forced to choose his poison. Johnson was not a high assist man, but a high iq Wooden player at UCLA knows how to make post entry passes. Harlem’s plan to have Duncan come over to help won’t work with Zo camping at the ft line.
Harlem on offense
Harlem plans to establish Duncan in the mid-post. Zo fronts, Sampson pulls McHale up to the ft line so there’s no weak side help, the lob can work here. However, Hill has to shake Johnson to do it and with old school rules Marques can hand check Hill and per the game plan plays him tight. If Sugar Ray tries the lobs it’s too many turnovers. Hill can’t get free often enough to make clean post entry. This play can work, but only sporadically. Since Duncan can’t get the ball he can’t be used as a distributor.
Next set option is to play Jordan and Hill on the midpost as shooter/distributors. Jordan down there plays to Richmond’s strength. Richmond had past defensive success against MJ there. Jordan will get some points but he’ll have to work for it. Hill on the post to cutters at last Jordan is out of the post working off ball as a primary target and can beat Richmond in space. Only one of Harlem’s three options has bankable consistent success.
Manila opens by milking McHale and Sampson gets in early foul trouble. Harlem tries to do the same with Duncan but can’t get clean post entry frequently. Manila jumps out to an 8 point lead. Harlem finally strikes gold with Hill midpost feeding Jordan in space in motion. MJ goes off to tie it up. Time out Manila. Per the game plan Raja Bell comes in as fireman to cool off Jordan.
Manila starts working pick and roll with Parker and Zo. The screens get Parker off the hand checks and he starts finding the midrange. Duncan is arguably the best ever at flash and recover, so the Zo cutting option is denied. Manila is working a steady diet of McHale and the midrange p/r jumper. The latter is less efficient but necessary to break up burning out McHale.
Once McHale sits it’s a lot of jumpers, opens the door for Harlem. They use Jordan beating Richmond in space to start feeding Duncan midpost and Tim hits the turnarounds, jump hooks and bank shots. As Duncan succeeds he starts to find Hill for midrange and finish/ft’s. Harlem takes a 5 point lead at the half.
In the third Manila goes right back to milk McHale and Sampson goes right back to the bench with foul trouble. Harlem’s carefully planned rotation is out of whack. Sampson was expected to play the first 10 minutes of the 3rd. Can’t do it. Horry comes in, Hill sinks deeper to deny post entry and Johnson puts it on automatic from the elbow. Harlem can't stop both and Manila goes on a run, up 6.
Five minutes left in the third. Duncan and Jordan both sit, per the game plan they must get their rest here. Sampson in foul trouble can’t anchor aggressively, Horry is at 4, no MJ. Manila goes on a tear for the next three minutes and goes up 14. Jordan back in with 2 left to stop the bleeding, McHale sits to give him rest and manage the score. MJ cuts the lead to 10 at the end of the three.
Jordan and Duncan both sit for the first two minutes of the fourth, McHale sits as well. A battle of the benches favors Manila and they take the lead back to 14 again. 10 minutes to go. Jordan gets on a mission. Harlem now knows what works and they feed Michael in space. But a rested McHale goes back to work inside as well and Sampson gets a fateful 5th. Horry back in with 8 left.
Knowing they have to deny McHale, Harlem concedes elbow and Johnson keeps draining them. Michael cuts into the lead in a battle of jumpers and free throws. Manila up 8 with 4 to go.
Crunch time. Harper comes in for Richardson. Parker has a huge speed edge on Harper, takes him off the dribble to find Richmond for jumpers and a few midrange shots of his own. The Folders aren’t.
Manila seeks to double Duncan and Jordan on the catch, but both are very high iq adept at passing out of that, Grant Hill has some open looks and pops them. Jordan gets to the line, Horry hits a clutch uncontested 3. Manila hanging on, up 4 with 2 to go.
Parker gets free, gets it to McHale, Manila up 6. Jordan free throws 4. McHale free throws 6. Jordan to a cutting Hill, and 1, lead is 3. Richmond baseline…no. Duncan a tough turnaround j. Richmond fouled, hits both. Manila up 3, Harlem’s final possession. Jordan doubled, kicks to Hill from 3…………no. Manila wins.
Defensively, they look to get physical with Parker...a wise choice as it has been something that has proven successful with the speedy guard. Their length in the post is the kind of thing that can give both Zo and McHale some trouble.
Offensively, the triangle will serve MJ and the team well. With a shotblocker like Zo patrolling the lane, spacing is important. They will pull Zo away from the hoop if he's on Duncan.
Offensively, they will look to establish McHale's post game. He's crafty and can score a thousand ways, but nothing will come easy against the length he's facing.
Parker sagging off Richardson will help fill a gap or two, though he wishes new school rules would allow him to cheat even more. Zo will be key to anchoring the D. Can he manage to do it with Parker at point and some aggressive players at the 2 and 3 spots?
MJ paces himself early, looking for a few drives and jumpers and working the weakside of the triangle. With Mourning on Duncan, Timmy pulls him outside more versus posting him up. The opposite of what Manila was anticipating (MJ late, Duncan in the post early on). This frees up a little space for MJ, who's not worried about McHale nearly as much in the lane against Sampson. And McHale doesn't want to find himself sidelined early with foul trouble. Good thing, because he's establishing some post presence on the other end.
Zo seems to be caught in no-man's land a few times, especially against Hill whose midrange game is money. Hill is content, at first, to hit those 12-15 footers. Harlem's game plan is working until the first subs. What was once an early 8-point lead, is cut to just 2 during the final 4 minutes when the Harlem bench unit fails to work smoothly around Duncan. But they do get some valuable rest for both Hill and MJ.
Late in the first half, with Harper in the two-guard front and floor spacing a little better, MJ gets aggressive. He's taking it to Richmond and on a roll during a brief stint. As the D is having issues, Parker has tried to double, as have others. Zo picks up a couple fouls trying to contest the dribble penetration from the 2 and 3 spots. Down by 6, Manila leaves Zo in and wins a small gamble in a big game.
The foul trouble for Zo (because of the penetration from the 2 and 3 spots) is on the minds of both teams to start the second half. Now, Duncan looks to finally get himself more involved, going up against a more foul-softened Zo. He hits a series of shots midway through the third (a bank from the midpost triangle and two jumphooks in the paint.) Meanwhile, with more offense being run through Duncan, Richmond now puts the pressure on MJ and keeps Harlem from pulling away completely early in the third.
With no MJ or Duncan in the game for a 3-minute stretch of the third, Harlem again gets reeled back in. These bench units aren't holding their own, especially with both MJ and Duncan out. Both soon return to restore order.
Tony Parker has managed to beat Harlem down court as a one-man break on a couple of occasions. Near the end of his rotation, however, he attacks down the lane and is swatted by Duncan. He wants the foul, but no whistle comes. MJ has managed to sneak some rest in and is back in with a couple minutes left in the third to hit a couple big shots. Harlem leads by 8 after three.
After another 2-minute stretch with both Duncan and MJ out, Harlem still maintains their 8-point lead. Horry hit a big three and Hill got to the rim to keep the scoring afloat.
Harlem overwhelms Manila in the 8 minutes of the fourth quarter. The lengthy post defenders are making things increasingly difficult on both McHale and Zo. Richmond is battling valiantly, but a decently rested MJ turns it on during a few minute stretch that pulls Harlem out to a 14-point lead. They trade hoops for the final couple minutes as Harlem coasts after a tougher first three quarters. They win by 13.
Congratulations, Cleva...good luck in the next round. _________________ There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body.
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