Basketball Magazine

RossRant: NBA Strategy, The Pacers, and The NBA Finals

By Rosstalkssports @rosstalkssports

It’s now or never for a May rant. Section II Article VII of the rule book clearly states, “Rants shalt not rolleth over from month to month.”1 So without further ado, today I present you with a rant that feature “next level” basketball strategy, a quick look at  the still ignored Indiana Pacers, and preliminary predictions for the NBA Finals 2.


End of the Quarter strategy

While watching game 5 of the Heat vs Pacers series a supremely flawed, yet accepted aspect of basketball strategy popped up on multiple occasions 3. I’m talking about the handling of “inconsequential” possessions at the end of quarters. In game 5 of the Heat Pacers series twice the team with the ball at the end of a quarter didn’t handle the possession efficiently.  (Considering there are a maximum of 3 of these chances in any given game that is over 66% in this very important playoff game).

The first occurrence was at the end of the first quarter. The Pacers had the ball out of bounds on the sideline of the Heat’s basket with .04 seconds left. The quarter ended with a low percentage jump shot just inside the three-point line. It should be mandatory for any team with a big man that is legitimately over seven feet tall (or alternatively a team that employs LeBron James) to draw up a tip in at the basket. It’s just too high percentage a shot for teams to constantly neglect in that situation.

The second occurance was at the end of the 3rd quarter. The Heat were in-bounding from under their own basket with 1.1 seconds left. Rather than take the shot they held it and let time run out. Granted the Heat were up double digits at that point, it’s still not the right play because the game wasn’t decided yet. The three quarters court heave is a very low percentage shot, but it has an infinitely better chance of going in than just holding onto the ball.


Indiana Pacers

The series now stands at 3-2 in the Heat’s favor, but even with the series tied at two a piece, there were very few people outside of Indiana that gave the Pacers a chance to win the series.  The other team having the best player since MJ on their side is part of the reason, but another part is that the Pacers simply lack an adequate number of sufficiently skilled players. In the first half of game 5 the Pacers blew easy layup after easy layup, which doomed them for the inevitable “LeBron dominates like no one else in the NBA can period” of the game. The Pacers are lacking in players that can finish at the basket, secure rebounds, or even simply receive passes. The only reason the Pacers are technically in this series is their toughness and heart. Unfortunately their advantage in those two intangibles doesn’t make up for their large skill deficit.

Pacers fans shouldn’t be too disappointed by this because their championship window will be at its widest next season.4 The return of a skilled player such as Danny Granger, plus the addition of a veteran free agent or two already, and the continuing emergence of Paul George as a superstar makes the Pacers my early favorite to lose to the potential Houston Rockets powerhouse. 5

As for the rest of the 2013 playoffs, the team that wins game 5 in a 2-2 series goes on to win the series 83% of the time. Add to that the fact that the Heat haven’t lost back to back games since losing on January 8th and 10th and it equals this series being all but over. (Sorry Pacers fans)


NBA Finals

Crazy prisoner of the moment statement alert: I think the Spurs should, and will beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Just watching the way the Heat have struggled against both the depleted Bulls and a Pacers team that isn’t even in the same class as the Heat when it comes to skill, I think the Heat are more vulnerable than they appeared coming into the playoffs.

The Spurs are the one team that the Heat will face in the playoffs with more finals experience (for reasons that go beyond basic stats, this counts for something). The Spurs have big men that are capable of lights out defense, can rebound, and can score.6 I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Spurs have the pieces to shut down LeBron’s biggest helpers in Udonis Haslem, Birdman, and Bosh. I’ve got a feeling that for LeBron the 2013 Finals against the Spurs are going to feel a lot like the 2007 Finals. I’m not proposing the LeBron will get swept, but it will be a shorter series than most people think.

When I really think about it, there are only two ways that the Heat can win this series.

1)   Dwyane Wade starts loading up on deer antler spray between now and game 1.

2)   LeBron James takes his game up yet another notch.

Let’s all agree right now that there is very little chance of number 1 happening. Dwade may make some questionable fashion choices 7 and have the propensity for some less than sportsman like plays on the court , but he is not one to cheat off the court to try to get ahead. As for number 2, the fact that this even seems possible makes each game of the 2013 finals worth watching.

Thanks for Reading!

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog