The Sixers centers have been a big, big problem on both ends of the floor so far this season. Their inability to finish, their inability to rebound, their inability to defend the post. They've been exposed. These shortcomings make a traditional pick-and-roll game impotent. Last night, the Sixers finally made an adjustment to their P&R, with decent results.
I've harped on it all season. There are three tremendous problems with the way the Sixers have been running the P&R:
- The bigs almost never set good screens, most of the time they don't make contact w/ the defender.
- The bigs are not offensive threats, at all. Meaning there's no penalty whatsoever for opposing defenses to double Jrue. All these picks are doing is bringing the second defender right to the ball.
- A lot of the time, Jrue doesn't need the pick. There aren't many PGs who can stop Jrue's penetration in an isolation situation.
Now I'm not saying the Sixers should go with isolations every time down the floor. You need to run offense, and there are advantages to pulling these centers out of the lane, but it's just not wise to pull that second defender and put Jrue in a tough position with no help from the screener time and time again. When you need a hoop, I wouldn't go with that set.
Last night, however, the Sixers made a team pay for doubling the P&R every time. Instead of setting the pick right at the three-point line (or closer in), they sent their centers all the way out to the timeline in the middle of the floor to set the screen. Usually, it was Kwame running out there to set the pick. Basically, teams are intent on doubling Jrue on those plays, so Collins used that against the Mavs.
When Brown sets the screen that far out on the floor, it essentially creates 4-on-4, or 4-on-3 if the guard gets hung up on the screen and Jrue can get around the center quickly. If it's executed well, Jrue gets by the center easily and then drives the lane, with the other team's shotblocker conveniently out beyond the three-point arc. At that point, once he gets into the paint the defense either needs to collapse to cut him off, leaving shooters open on the perimeter, or Jrue is going to get a layup.
This play worked multiple times last night, thanks in no small part to the slow fives Dallas was playing with (Kaman and Brand). If Jrue was really on his game, it would've worked a whole lot better. They threw a wrinkle in where Kwame faked running out on the floor to set the screen, his man overreacted leaving Kwame wide open under the hoop where he got the pass.
There's a pretty easy counter, just don't send the big out there, but if that happens and the pick is good, Jrue can dribble into a three. In an ideal world, the Sixers would be able to run the traditional pick-and-roll game. But burdened with listless bigs until Bynum comes back, I like this option much better.