I was in OKC on Saturday for the Thunder-Warriors game and the return of Kevin Durant. Quite the scene. Went to 4 of OKC’s playoff games last year and this rivaled the intensity of those, for a different reason obviously. Had a family of 4 next to me and my buddy that paid $400 per ticket and drove 10 hours from Nebraska to see the game. They were Warriors fans, of course.
Just now finally got a chance to watch the LSU game. A few thoughts…
— The zone was so much better in the second half than it was in the first and easily better than their man looks. First half, they fell asleep and got beat along the baseline and around the foul line in the zone. And obviously the man defense was mostly bad and led to a lot of switches that gave LSU mismatches. LSU got open looks vs the press.
Second half, communication was much better and they played well as a collective, rotating and working as a unit in the zone. Used it the whole second half, which is by far the longest stretch he’s gone zone since he’s been here, that I can recall (feel free to correct if I’m wrong). There are 2 main advantages of the zone:
The main one for me is that it means the bigs are always in/around the paint and keeps the defense from getting overextended. Moses was able to affect a lot of shots around the rim because he was actually around the rim.
The guards get blown by so much when they go to man. This helps with that. This team isn’t able to pressure as well as Mike would like, so the more conservative look helps them and the team as a whole big time.
I’ll be interested to see how much Mike uses it moving forward.
— Some of the tradeoff of the zone was giving up offensive boards. Have to do a better job boxing out once the shot goes up. Of course, that’s not simply a zone thing. LSU was quicker to balls early.
— LSU’s off-ball defense is so bad. Tigers were lazy and then out of position when their guy did get the ball so much. Their zone wasn’t much better.
— Dusty is at his best when gunning and hunting 3s. It changes the way the defense plays. He has so much gravity. He’s good curling off screens and scoring in the paint, too, but he shouldn’t be phased by a slow start from outside. Keep firing. If I’m Mike, I make it clear he has a Steph-like green light.
— Continuation of the last point, but the lineup of Dusty, Daryl, Jaylen, Dustin and Moses essentially won the game. Anderson played that group about 10 minutes and they outscored LSU 26-13. Dusty and Daryl’s shooting spaces the floor.
— They shot 26 3s. Love seeing that. This team has good shooters. Dusty taking 8-12 a game is great. Daryl can take a lot. Anton, Jaylen and Manny can combine for 6-8 on a normal night. Obviously 10-26 (38.4) equates to making about 58 percent of 2-pointers. Hogs are shooting 37.5 percent this year. Up the volume of 3s, please.
— Dustin was good. His best game in 2017, in my book. Used his hops to get some 50-50 rebounds. Made a few nice passes that he has the capability to make but hasn’t very often. And he made shots. The bigs were 3-8 on jumpers and Thomas was 3-5, including a missed 3. Still fades on most of them, but he hit them Saturday. Most importantly, didn’t hesitate. That helps.
— Adrio was a mixed big. Had some nice energy. Good rim protection and took a few charges to bail out guards who’d gotten blow by off the dribble. Active. Gotta make FTs and can’t get beat in transition after a made basket. No rebounds either. Overall, thought he earned the right to stay in the rotation.
— I thought Arlando pressed a bit, which could be the result of limited PT.
— Moses seemed like he was a step slow early, but his rim protection was so good. Got called for one foul on a play that looked clean and would have been a heck of a block. Went vertical once. I really couldn’t care less about his offense if he protects the rim like that. Anton (who finally had a good game again) drove once and made a nice slip pass to him for a bucket. More of that please, Arkansas guards. I find it interesting that teams continue to double Moses in the post.
— Daryl loves dribbling into 3s, doesn’t he. Swished one, airmailed the next a possession later.
— Hogs run some nice sets out of timeouts, but I can’t think of one good play this year that’s come out of that double stack set at the elbows. It just always winds up a cluster with a tough shot. Barford settled for a bad 3 out of it the other night.
— Obviously a big win. Second half shows this team still has some fight in it. They’re squarely on the bubble heading into these last 6 games. I think 4-2 has them sitting relatively pretty heading to Nashville. 3-3 means they’re still on the bubble.