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Hollinger: Isolation-Heavy Offenses Struggling in the Playoffs

John Hollinger looks to explain the Atlanta Hawks' offensive struggles in the playoffs by comparing them to the Portland Trail Blazers, as both teams rely heavily on their star players -- Joe Johnson and Brandon Roy-- in isolation. Hollinger praises both team's offensive efficiencies, which are caused by a low-turnover rate, good rebounding numbers and slow pace. But he turns to recent history to conclude that this system has not proven very successful in the playoffs, "an environment in which opponents have several days to scout, game-plan and match up for this specific tactic." On ESPN Insider, Hollinger writes... --------------------------------- We'll start with Portland. The Blazers were the second-best offense in 2008-09 in the regular season, and met the fourth-best defense from Houston in the first round. Based on the opponent, we would have expected some drop-off from the Blazers, yes, but among the 16 playoff teams, they were only eighth in offensive efficiency. The Blazers were as successful as before at avoiding turnovers, but they couldn't make shots and couldn't get the misses. In particular, the Rockets eliminated their second shots, taking the league's top regular-season offensive rebounding team down to 11th among 16 playoff teams. Portland's TS percentage also dropped from eighth among 30 teams to 12th out of 16. In 2009-10, Portland faced a much weaker defensive team in Phoenix, but basically the same thing happened. While some of this can be pinned on Roy's injury, the numerical changes were virtually identical to a year earlier -- they were just as good at avoiding turnovers, but missed a lot more shots and didn't rebound nearly as many of them. --------------------------------- -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter
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