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How Did They Do It?

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One more post on last night's win, then we start looking forward. Yesterday afternoon we talked about how using risky strategies could level the playing field against the Lakers. After the jump we'll take a look at how the Sixers were able to defy the odds.

First and foremost, the Sixers slowed the game down. The Lakers average 94.4 possessions per game on the season, the Sixers average 90.4. Last night, it was 87 for the Sixers, 86 for the Lakers. Of course, that 87th possession was the key. Before we talk about how the Sixers shortened the game, I want to touch on one thing that's been overlooked.

With 54 seconds left, Andre Miller threw an ill-advised pass to Reggie Evans. It was picked off by Pau Gasol and the Lakers gained possession in a tie game. The Lakers came down the floor with the clock obviously in their favor. Had they milked the clock, they could've guaranteed themselves a two-for-one, and the final shot in the game. Instead, Pau Gasol missed a layup with 41 seconds left on the clock (13 left on the shot clock). Reggie Evans grabbed the defensive rebound with 39 seconds to go. He got the ball to Lou Williams who went quickly to the hoop. His shot was blocked, but there were 29 seconds left on the clock when Los Angeles regained possession. The fact that Lou got that shot off quickly guaranteed the Lakers could not take the last shot (unless they got an offensive rebound). Essentially, the fact that Lou realized the situation and realized the Sixers had a chance for a two-for-one was the difference between Kobe's shot being a buzzer-beater for the win and the Sixers having 6.6 seconds left for Iguodala to drain the game winner. Thanks Lou.

Now, back to how the Sixers slowed things down. It wasn't by abandoning the running game, they had 14 fast break points, which is below their average, but still a good amount. They slowed the game down a couple of different ways. First, they used at least token full-court pressure throughout the game, effectively shortening the shot clock. Second, they played excellent rotational defense. The Lakers shot an extremely high percentage from the floor, but they had to make multiple passes and use up most of the shot clock on several possessions to get a good shot. Third, and probably the most important factor, the Sixers owned the offensive glass. Every offensive rebound is an extension of that possession. 14 times, the Sixers grabbed an offensive rebound. They only converted those rebounds into 12 points (which is a lower conversion rate than their average possessions), but in effect 34% of their missed field goal attempts did not end the possessions.

We should probably hand out some thanks here for yeoman work on the offensive glass, and also take note that the Sixers didn't resort to sending the guards to the offensive glass:

  • Dalembert: 8 offensive rebounds
  • Thad: 2 offensive boards
  • Speights: 2 offensive boards (in 5 minutes!)
  • Evans: 1 offensive board
  • Miller: 1 offensive board
This was truly a miraculous win, and anyone who wants to tell you the Lakers had an off night, you can dispute that with facts. The Lakers shot better than their season average from the floor, better than their season average from three, better than their season average from the line. This game was won with defense, hustle and strategy on the Sixers' part.
by Brian on Mar 18 2009
Tags: Basketball | Lakers | Sixers |