Rodney Stuckey had an all-star performance in his limited minutes, but I’ll venture to guess that Alexey Shved’s defense will make lots of players look like all stars this season.
But Stuckey showed some quality skills as an emergency back-up point guard, and Frank Vogel took full advantage. Indiana busted out a horns set featuring Stuckey’s playmaking ability, and it was BEAUTIFUL.
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Stuckey makes one hell of a pocket pass to Ian Mahinmi rolling to the basket. Mahinmi gets doubled by Shved under the basket, and although you’d like Mahinmi to be able to finish this off with a dunk, he makes a great read.
Nerlens Noel makes the correct choice to sprint to the corner in order to take away a corner three from Copeland. But this leaves Lavoy Allen all alone for an 18-foot jumper. Those mid-range jumpers aren’t ideal for an offense, but Indiana has two of the exceptions to that efficiency rule in David West and Luis Scola.
Then Vogel one upped himself.
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That was glorious. After the high ball screen Mahinmi sets a quick cross screen to free up Allen. And because this is one possession after Allen hit a jumper, the Sixers want to take that away. But that leaves the paint unattended, and Mahinmi rolls to the basket.
Given the post-entry struggles of Indiana last season, don’t take for granted Allen’s over-the-head lob pass to Mahinmi. This time, the big man finishes at the rim, but look at his options. Corner threes!
Assuming Stuckey – or any Pacer – is a threat running the pick and roll, this set opens up plenty of options.
Shooters in the corners – look at that spacing! – make it hard for the defense to help into the paint. Dangerous mid-range shooters can open looks, and the paint can open up for a rolling seven footer.
Yes this is against the likely-to-be-last-in-the-NBA 76ers, but Vogel isn’t working with Larry Bird. In the early part of the fourth quarter he had none of his regular starters from the past few seasons on the floor. He didn’t have a true point guard, and he was playing two guys, Chris Copeland and Damjan Rudez, that he claims he doesn’t want on the court together. That’s good for the sake of Indiana’s defense, but shooters, coach shooters!
Here’s some other offensive possessions from Indiana’s opening-night win.
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It’s that same fourth-quarter lineup, but this is the first play Indiana ran in the quarter. Copeland’s defender is slightly concerned with helping on the pick and roll, and that allows the open corner three.
Early in the first quarter Philadelphia decided to front Roy Hibbert in the post. It was odd given Hibbert’s track record of not establishing good position when posting up. And Indiana found openings.
If Hibbert is Indiana’s first offensive option by default then teams will likely send help defense when he is playing well and drawing fouls. I’d be surprised if many teams front Hibbert frequently, but either way a good Hibbert will create some open shots for whoever the other Pacers are.