Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images
Before the playoffs started, I previewed Orlando’s first round matchup using data from Synergy Sports Technology. Let’s take a look at the results from the playoff games in Orlando.
PPP = Points Per Possession
As a team, Orlando posted up 25 times, and 24 of the post up chances came from Dwight. The only non-Dwight post up was when Brandon Bass went against Al Horford in the 1st quarter. The Magic averaged 1.24 PPP, and continued their trend of posting up more versus Atlanta than they did against other opponents this year (16.3%).
Orlando was dominant when they isolated on offense. In the regular season, they averaged 0.83 PPP. In Game 1, they increased their mark by 0.6 PPP. Hedo Turkoglu was 2-2 in isolation. He hit a three-pointer over Etan Thomas to give Orlando a 19-17 lead in the first quarter and hit an off balance jumper in the final minutes of the game
Dwight Howard was the third best player in the NBA when he cut to the rim in the regular season. In the opener versus Atlanta he finished his first cut opportunity with a dunk, and on the second chance he drew a foul and shot a pair of free throws.
In the first 82 games, Orlando was the NBA’s best team at scoring with their roll men. In the first game of the playoffs, their roll men never used a possession. However, the ball handler in the pick-and-roll used nearly 1 out of 5 possessions.
Orlando’s spot up game was miserable on Saturday, and their PPP was less than half of their regular season average. The Magic attempted 15 spot-up attempts, and 11 were three-pointers. Gilbert Arenas and Jameer Nelson each made one spot-up three, while Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu were 0-5 combined.
Atlanta’s post-up game was mostly negated. The Hawks only managed 0.62 PPP, and Josh Smith was a main culprit. He was 0-3 shooting and turned over another opportunity.
In the regular season, Atlanta isolated on 13.4% of their possessions and averaged 0.79 PPP. On Saturday, they upped their isolation percentage by 10 percentage points and scored 0.53 more PPP. Orlando’s defense was ranked below average in stopping isolation plays during the season (17th).
Surprisingly, Orlando was decimated when Atlanta ran the pick-and-roll. In the regular season, Atlanta was around average running the pick-and-roll, and Orlando was the best team in the NBA at stopping the ball handler (0.72 PPP). In Game 1, Atlanta burned the Magic for 1.25 PPP. Orlando wasn’t much better stopping roll men, either. They gave up 1.20 PPP after allowing only 0.92 PPP during the regular season.
PPP = Points Per Possession
Orlando won, but their offense was less efficient on Tuesday.
The Magic got the ball to the roll man four times on Tuesday after failing to do so even once Saturday. The adjustment was productive, and Orlando scored 1 PPP. Orlando went to the play early, and Hedo hit Dwight three times in the first half. Brandon Bass received the other roll possession.
The Magic posted-up four fewer times in Game 2 than Game 1, but many more players utilized the move. Dwight used 23 of Orlando’s 24 post-up possessions in game 1, but he only used 15 in game 2. Gilbert Arenas tried to take advantage of Jamal Crawford down low twice in the first quarter on Tuesday, and both times he went to the hook shot from the right block.
The Magic used 4 more transition possessions in game 2, but their PPP fell from 0.75 to 0.5.
Orlando’s spot-up offense was once again bleak. The Magic only put it through the hoop on three of their 20 spot-up attempts, and missed 12 of their 14 shots beyond the arc. This is a significant lapse from Orlando’s regular season performance where they were the fifth best spot-up team in the NBA.
However, Atlanta’s spot-up defense was the 6th-best in the NBA during the regular season. I mentioned in the preview to “expect a fierce battle when Orlando spots up on offense.” Unfortunately, Atlanta has dominated the battle through two games.
The Magic put the kibosh on the Hawks’ offense Tuesday. Atlanta’s efficiency took a hit, and the Hawks made 39.5% of their shoots in Game 2 after making 51.4% in Game 1.
The visitors spotted-up eight more times in Game 2 than Game 1, and the adjustment was beneficial. Atlanta’s efficiency improved in Game 2 as they shot 52.4% in spot-up situations.
Orlando decimated the Hawks when Atlanta tried to isolate. The Hawks ran isolations on 1 out of 5 plays, but they only mustered 0.62 PPP on 5-15 shooting. Joe Johnson’s performance was especially brutal. On his first 7 isolation plays, Johnson was 0-4 shooting and turned it over three times. Atlanta once again went to isolation plays more frequently than their regular season average (13.4%).
Orlando’s elite pick-and-roll defense showed up on Tuesday night. The Magic held the Hawks ball handlers to 0.55 PPP and the roll men to 0.67 PPP. Both of these rates were down considerably from what Atlanta produced in Game 1.