How David West and spacing closed out game six

Mike Zarrilli

Jeff Teague had just hit a jumper coming off a ball screen that put Atlanta up 84-79 with 3:15 to go in the fourth quarter. The Hawks were going to finish off the Pacers, and put the top seed out of its misery. But then David West happened.

The Hawks have destroyed Indiana’s top flight defense by spreading the court and using pick and pops for Jeff Teague layups or big man threes. Down five – and staring the offseason in the face – the Pacers went with a similar tactic, headed by David West.

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Indiana used a high ball screen for George Hill. The Hawks doubled Hill off of ball screens all game, which is what West exploited.

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West floats to the three-point line, and Hill delivers the pass. The pass may be the most important part of this play considering Indiana’s struggles delivering the ball.

But unlike Atlanta's quick-triggered big men, West attacks the basket like a tank. The result is two made West free throws.

Notice Indiana’s spacing, shooters in the corners and Ian Mahinmi just off the block. Every player is in a position where he could score. They are also all in a lane that West can find with a pass. That has been a problem with Indiana, as players tend to hide.

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That’s a designed play for a Lance Stephenson isolation. West is hidden behind Roy Hibbert, who isn’t in a great place to catch a pass himself. This is intentional, as Indiana will run this play for different guys. (Stephenson did score at the basket.)

Back to the final three minutes and change, the Pacers had six possessions that didn't result in intentional fouls from the Hawks. Five of those times they went to the Hill/West ball screen. Which produced eight points.

West had six points on 2-of-3 shooting, with two free throws, and Hill had the other two points on a layup. Hill got free because Pero Antic came off of the double team to get back to West.

The only blemish was West missing a shot from inside the restricted area, one he should have made. Essentially, the Hawks could not guard West as a roll man or at all. Because on two of the possessions, West turned the pass into an isolation, in which he hit a jumper and took Paul Millsap off the dribble.

This ball screen becomes even more dangerous when Chris Copeland is on the floor instead of Mahinmi. It provides optimal spacing.

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West catches the pass, and only Kyle Korver is in position to help. West scores easily.

The Hawks defense is now in the same situation as the Pacers. They don’t want to help off of the shooters around the arc, but two defenders can't contain the Hill/West pick and roll.

Spacing is a beautiful thing for a struggling offense. Having the grown-man-close-out-game-six attitude of David West is pretty useful.

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