The Microscope: The Fundamental Flaw in Blake Griffin's Post Game (and More)
The Microscope is your recurring look at the NBA's small-scale developments—the rotational curiosities, skill showcases, coaching decisions, notable performances and changes in approach that make the league go 'round.
Blake Griffin Spins into Post Problems
Interestingly, when Blake Griffin goes to work on the low block, he approaches post work as a perimeter player would approach a drive to the rim. There's no drop step and no evolution of moves—only a strong spin with a gambit.
Griffin's spin is quick enough to create opportunities (or draw fouls) against many opponents, and his subsequent shot fake can indeed force some defenders to bite.
But when Griffin is pitted against a more disciplined foe—or at least one who put in enough time with the tape to see Griffin's post game for what it is—he spins into a dead stop.
We usually talk about Griffin's post limitations in general terms, citing his lack of moves or underdeveloped footwork.
But more specifically, what Griffin lacks is a counter. He has a move, and a theoretically good one at that, and though he doesn't have the most refined footwork, he can at least trigger that spin on command without being whistled for a travel.
But once he executes his go-to move, Griffin has—in the process—exhausted all of his options. He's spun in a way that gives him no step-through or reverse alternative, and has banked his scoring chances on the decision-making of his opponent.
By sacrificing more versatile footing for the sake of that spin, Griffin has whirled his way into a corner. Finding a way to pivot out of that corner should be the next stage of his offensive development and is considerably more important than his rather limited range.
The Survival of Miami's Small Lineup
Going small in some capacity seemed an inevitability as a result of Chris Bosh's absence, but Jones and Battier—on rebounding and interior defense alone—would seem an odd substitute and surely lack LeBron James' ability to function as a big in a pinch.
But credit goes to Erik Spoelstra for using this lineup at the single time in which the Heat could afford to: when Pacers head coach Frank Vogel went platoon style with his reserves at the beginning of the second quarter.
Indiana may be a bit deeper than Miami, but the bench has been functionally problematic for the Pacers all season. If Spoelstra were afforded a healthy roster, he could've used this opportunity as a chance to build up a lead and gain momentum.
Considering the reality of the Heat's rotation, though, it served as a more valuable chance to get James some rest while trotting out a limited group.
That Miami lineup predictably didn't put up many points (they scored at a rate of just 90.1 points per 100 possessions), but also didn't cede any ground whatsoever to a Pacers unit that didn't present much of an offensive threat. But the real payoff is that this lineup bought James the only bit of rest he got all night.
Mo Williams, Going Chest-to-Chest with Danny Green
Danny Green ultimately ended up as one of the Spurs' more impressive scorers on a night when Tony Parker failed to establish much of a rhythm, but one particular—and particularly unexpected—opponent was able to completely cap Green in Game 1: Mo Williams.
Williams receives plenty of criticism for his defensive deficiencies, but on Tuesday night, he stuck with Green step for step and prevented him from making a single shot—or even making a single productive dribble, really—while he was on the court.
Williams may struggle to fight through pick-and-rolls or stay with clever ball-handlers, but Green is exactly the kind of semi-dynamic three-point threat that Williams can hope to contain. Off-ball defensive work has always suited Williams well, and it was that effort to track and trail Green that put Williams in prime position to crowd him on each and every catch.
Williams refused Green the opportunity to shoot over him by crowding his immediate space, and though Green is still a fairly useful player off the dribble, he was halted completely by Williams' pesky on-ball pressure.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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