Let me apologize up front. The one table below is only about 10% of the data I’ve compiled, but the other 90% (not given) speaks to the same point. I don’t have time to finish this post properly so I’m throwing it out there as it is, before the data gets old.
I’m not an ISO fan, but I don’t mind a certain amount of ISO plays.
From a coaching standpoint you have to think any coach might play it somewhat safe with a 25-point lead. And perhaps even think that a hobbled Roy gives us enough oomph to win this game even if our offense is not running smoothly. But nobody expects to go 4 for 26 in the last 18 minutes of regulation (I think that’s close to what the numbers were) regardless of what kind of sets you run. But this is not the first time we've given up big runs or gone ice cold. So what is the problem?
Although tremendously important, I think the problem is more fundamental than what kinds of plays are being run. I have never seen a year where for great lengths of time our offense stalls out, and our defense puts on a premium "Swiss Cheese" commercial, as it has too many times this year. I’d like to see a stat on who’s gone cold offensively, and who has given up the biggest runs this year. And then I’d wear it for Halloween next year - it's sure to be quite scary.
What in the World is going on:
We're the 3rd youngest team in the league with extreme lack of playing time together.
To illustrate the quandary, below is a table of 3-player combinations, and I think it addresses much of our ills and woes on offense and defense, I chose to compare with the Hawks because they are a team that is at the top, and perhaps leading the league with players that have the most playing time together.
The combined minutes for the Hawks top 7 units with playing time, 3-player combinations, is 8445 minutes. The Blazers combined time is 3928 minutes, but 3 of the Blazers top 7 spots have Blake, with Blake and Oden in one of those. When you remove Blake, Oden slides into another two of those top spots, and Przybilla into the other. So after you remove Blake, Oden, and Pyzy our top 7 units that have spent the most time together total 3287 minutes. With our current rotation our time spent playing together is roughly 39% of what the Hawks have played together this year. Or, if you like it better in the inverse, the Hawks rotations have spent 257% more time playing together than we have.
This doesn’t look as bad as seeing the numbers, so here is the ugly in all it’s glory.
1440:04:00 - J. Johnson Jo. Smith A. Horford
1285:53:00 - M. Bibby J. Johnson A. Horford
1192:32:00 - J. Johnson M. Williams A. Horford
1191:44:00 - M. Bibby J. Johnson Jo. Smith
1159:23:00 - M. Bibby Jo. Smith A. Horford
1110:02:00 - J. Johnson Jo. Smith M. Williams
1066:04:00 - Jo. Smith M. Williams A. Horford
751:50:00 - A. Miller M. Webster L. Aldridge
684:13:00 - A. Miller L. Aldridge B. Roy
541:50:00 - M. Webster L. Aldridge B. Roy
393:46:00 - A. Miller M. Webster B. Roy
325:25:00 - J. Howard M. Webster J. Bayless
299:30:00 - J. Howard M. Webster B. Roy
290:36:00 - J. Howard A. Miller J. Bayless
You don’t even want to look at 5 player rotations. So close your eyes.
The Hawks top 3 units have played together 1367 minutes. Their #1 rotation has played together 809 minutes this year.
The Blazers top 3, have spent 417 minutes together. Oh wait, we have to minus out Blake, Oden and Przy. Our current 5-player rotations (top 3 combined) have spent 262 minutes together, and we have played 3 more games than the Hawks. That's right - 262 verses 1367 for the Hawks, that's at least twice as much!
To state it in terms of games played with a full 48 minutes:
We’ve played 58 games and our top 3 units have spent 5.45 games together.
The Hawks have played 55 games, and their top 3 units have played together for a whopping 28.48 games this season. 5.45 games compared to 28.48, It’s like trying to compare Dakota Fanning to Demi Moore. I might like Dakota better, but if I’m a producer I don’t even think about giving Dakota the role of a ladder-climbing-corporate-backstabber hoping to give Michael Douglas the shaft. She doesn't have the experience.
The numbers speak for themselves. We simply have not spent enough time together as compared to the top teams in the league. This, IMO, leads to very tentative offensive sets, late shots, poor shots, defensive nightmares, etc. And a good defense will eat up a team that has no idea what they want to do with the ball. Why were we so good last year after a timeout, we knew what we were doing.
The good news: We have room to improve as much as anybody in the league, as this last leg of the season should help us likely more than any other team. If not for any other reason than we will benefit from the playing time more than anyone.
Maybe it’s oversimplified, but many of our problems (not all) lie largely due to playing time. We’ve had some stretches in games where we looked rock solid offensively, and yes, even defensively. When the weak side defensive has rotated over correctly, we’ve smothered some good teams. But these oh-so-hard-to-take bad stretches won’t go away until we log some time together.
I feel our great push at the end of the season last year was due to the same reason: We had a young talented team who had logged some good minutes together.
Here’s to hoping we log some minutes, stay injury free, and find some good rotations.