Saying Mr. West was in the building is a gross understatement. David West carried the Pacers to a game six win – and the Eastern Conference Finals – with 29 points on 13 of 26 shooting. He saved that stagnant offense by hitting tough, inefficient shots.
Although, long twos aren’t exactly inefficient for West. He ain’t got time for analytics or losing to inferior teams in game six.
But West wasn’t alone; good Lance showed up. Lance Stephenson became the primary ball handler down the stretch of game six. He ran the offense, which was mostly pick and pops with West.
Stephenson finished with 17 points on 8 of 13 shooting and eight assists. But before he and West closed the game out, here’s a first quarter play that helped set up the end of the game.
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Stephenson goes away from West’s second screen. This forces Bradley Beal to defend Stephenson alone. Al Harrington has to stay with West in fear of his mid-range jumper.
Stephenson had success getting into the lane off of the pick and roll even when he went toward the screen.
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Beal does a poor job dealing with the screen, so Stephenson attacks Harrington and scores. Later Washington just switched the screen – a tactic Indiana employed to slow down Atlanta’s pick and pop.
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Again Stephenson attacked the big man, this time Nene. And again it is a layup for Lance.
Also, notice how West sets multiple ball screens. The Pacers were committed to this pick and pop down the stretch and would just screen until the Wizards were out of position. Stephenson showed patience until he got the lane – for driving or dishing - that he wanted.
Even though the game was decided with under two minutes to play, that first quarter bucket by Stephenson set up a wide-open jumper for West.
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Even though West was torching Washington all night, they were still worried about Stephenson driving off the screen. So Harrington just left West alone in his sweet spot.
Stephenson goes away from the screen, and Harrington doesn't want to leave Beal by himself. But this means West is all alone near the elbow.
This could translate into success against Miami, as the Heat will be more aggressive with trapping the ball handler off the screens. If Stephenson can limit turnovers and find West, the Pacers can play four on three behind the trap.
Miami will likely send a help defender to contest West’s jumpers. So either having West drive past that closeout or passing to the open man before the defense can recover will be key to beating Miami’s defense.
That would be an interesting tactic to use against Miami in the next round, as it could change up Miami's pick-and-roll defense.