Well geez. That wasn't exactly what we wanted. The rest of this trip is going to be tough now.
Despite the loss this wasn't a total disaster like Friday night was. A number of things went right. First of all we did see more movement in the offense and fewer of those slow isolation sets. They were there still, but not as frequently. We shot 45% and held them to 37%. Everyone who played was pretty aggressive looking for their shot. Nobody played scared or looked intimidated. We did a reasonably good job playing defense in the key and we didn't let them run out too often.
However this game was lost for a couple of critical reasons. First we ran an ASTONISHING 9 point, 14 attempt deficit at the free throw line. That should NEVER happen against the Pacers. This was one of the areas where we were supposed to dominate. Second, we allowed them 16 offensive rebounds and also committed 14 turnovers to their 6...losing possessions in droves in the third quarter when they pulled away from us. Neither one ended up biting us as badly as they could have in terms of actual points, but we cost ourselves extra chances to score which we ended up needing. Third, we failed to hit open shots from distance. The Pacers were packing four in the paint at times and that's where a lot of those turnovers came from. This is becoming a nightly story and by the way JAMES JONES WHERE ARE YOU? Fourth we showed a complete lack of recognition on Danny Granger's scoring range. Fifth we're still incapable of consistently handling picks and the ensuing plays they create. If I see Joel Przybilla and a guard either switch or get caught in no-man's land off of a screen one more time I think I'm going to scream. We either end up with our point guard on their cutting big man or enough space between Joel and our guard to march the Weight Watchers Drum and Bugle Corps through.
Sixth, and finally, comes the dirty little secret of the Blazers...
Our guys are easy to guard.
Getting good looks on offense basically boils down to one thing: forcing your opponent to make decisions. The liability of the defender is not physical, but that he doesn't know what you're doing and so has to guess how to proceed. If you allow a wide receiver to run around long enough in the NFL he's going to get open, not because he's athletically superior to the defender but because eventually the coverage guy is going to guess wrong.
But think now...who on the Blazers makes opposing defenders make decisions? Brandon Roy, that's who. He's a triple-threat to drive, shoot, or pass or any combination thereof. But other than Brandon, who else?
Lamarcus maybe, but he really doesn't cover much space or attack the rim once he has the ball. If he's facing up he's going to shoot it. If he's posting he's going to spin and shoot it.
Travis probably. He's certainly the most varied threat in terms of moves but as we're seeing now if people pay attention to him he has a much harder time getting good shots.
Jarrett, no. He's going to drive or pass but his pass probably won't hurt you.
Steve, no. He can't get his own shot that well. He'll just pass whether he drives or stays.
Channing, no. He has to shoot a jumper or he's out of his element. He's not a great passer either.
Sergio, no. He'll almost always pass and has not developed the ability to finish or hit his jumper.
Martell, no. He's driving a little more now, which is good, but he's not a passer and not a good ball-handler. Keep in front of him and you'll be fine.
Without Roy you're left with Lamarcus' ability to score and about half of what Travis is normally. Beyond that it's a defensive cakewalk in terms of decision-making. That's not going to win you games.
This could be solved by more efficient play running, as plays by their very nature force decisions on defenses. But we're not crisp in that area either without Brandon.
It could also be alleviated if we could hit our outside shots consistently, thus freeing up the floor more for the guys that can move. But you see how that is going.
In short without the pressure our All-Star puts on the defense our gifts go to waste. One- and two-dimensional offensive players are exposed much more than they would be otherwise. And that's exactly what's happening to us.
--I thought Lamarcus did well offensively tonight. His continued aggressiveness is impressive and I hope he can keep it up even when Brandon returns. We need him badly. He didn't terrorize the boards but 11 overall is not too shabby.
--I was also impressed by Martell and Jarrett...if not always in their execution at least in their aggressiveness. They looked like they were bent on scoring tonight and they didn't settle for low-effort attempts. Martell got 8 rebounds. Jarrett has 10 assists.
--I think Travis tried to be aggressive but it looked like Indiana knew he was coming. He still has trouble sometimes getting past concentrated defense. His shot selection was not great, even for Travis.
--Joel, Steve, and Channing looked like they were giving their all. I enjoyed Blake's attempts to pull us close in the final quarter. He shook off his defenders and shot. Joel was great on the boards and played good defense as long as we kept him near the basket. I just wish with all my heart that he could be passed to on offense with a reasonable probability of success. Channing hit his shots and got his rebounds. A little better defense would have been nice.
--This wasn't a good Sergio night, which is a shame because it could have been. He could have pushed the tempo and the offense in general against a relatively weak defensive opponent. I guess it wasn't to be.
One Two-point-five-Sentence Game Summary:
Foul me once, shame on you. I foul you 25 times for 37 free throws and you hit 29 of those while I only shot 23 overall and you're the PACERS...shame on me!