Scoring 32 points on 19 field goal attempts to go with four assists and four steals, Victor Oladipo was like a garbage disposal in Game 1. Cleveland attempted to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the high-octane guard to slow him down, and he proceeded to shred nearly every food scrap of defensive coverage that was tossed his way.
Because it all started to blend together before LeBron’s 21-game first-round win streak swirled unceremoniously down the drain, here’s a categorical look at the glut of mean things Oladipo did out of the pick-and-roll to the Cavaliers in the half-court during Indiana’s playoff opener.
The running starts:
Whenever the late-bloomer got a switch with a big on the perimeter, it was almost as if he transformed into one of those pull-back toy cars with an internal coil mechanism.
He would back up to create space and build momentum, and then he would immediately unwind and propel himself rapidly forward so that he could use the area behind the 3-point line like a diver would a spring board to rise up and knock down the pull-up jump shot over his defender.
Oladipo mercilessly rocketed his way into three of these types of shots (as well as some others which he was basically allowed to step into) because the Cavs were weary to come at him with equal force out of fear of his speed.
The lopsided dash to the basket:
Dropping near to the level of the screen was an admirable attempt to prevent Indiana’s scoring engine from getting another bucket outside the paint, but it forced Kevin Love into an unfair footrace with Oladipo to the rim.
This did not end well, as was demonstrated by the right-handed reverse lay-up the speedster made when he left Love in the dust while Larry Nance Jr. refused to leave Thaddeus Young open along the baseline to help.
The make him shoot shots:
The results were equally bad when Cleveland’s five-time All-Star dropped deeper into the paint with Nance taking extra steps off Young, since that just gave Oladipo more room to confidently drill up another three.
Such was also the case when J.R. Smith attempted to direct Oladipo away from the rim by going under this pindown screen set by Sabonis as well as his showing teammate and ended up watching his man splash another three once the first-time All-Star squared himself to basket off the pass from Cory Joseph.
The high-risk dishes and dimes:
Of everything the Cavs tried, they (surprise, surprise) found some success when they attempted to force the ball out of Oladipo’s hands by having Kevin Love hard show on ball screens.
Here, for instance, LeBron James had no qualms about roaming away from the league’s most accurate 3-point shooter to try to force this turnover because the Pacers have continued to rely almost exclusively upon their leading scorer’s still-maturing ability to jam these predictable left-handed pocket passes to Myles Turner.
George Hill converted a layup off this particular giveaway, and Rodney Hood teed up (and missed) a three off another on the next possession.
Oladipo, however, eventually countered by splitting the defense and getting his teammates involved in the action.
First, by finding Cory Joseph in the right corner after slithering between Love and Hood.
And, later, by threading a bounce pass to Sabonis darting toward the rim, which allowed the reserve big man to set up Bojan Bogdanovic for an open corner three when the defense collapsed.
Oladipo may not make six of nine shots from three again, and the Pacers still need to come up with a safer and more reliable escape plan for when he gets trapped above the break (say, having the off-ball guard set a screen for the screener so Love is late to the scene on those hedges) to prevent clogs and jams, but all of the ways in which he was able to slice and dice Cleveland’s defense with relative ease put his team in the unexpected position of being able to force the Cavaliers to respond to them.
Both during Game 1 and for the days and hours leading up to Game 2.