Through three games of this first round series, even the victorious ones, the Lakers' offense has generally been a boggy, sloggy, often-cringeworthy thing. Credit Oklahoma City's defense- they're really good on that end of the floor, almost certainly better than any team the Lakers will see in the Western Conference playoffs- but the Lakers can clearly perform better.
One big problem has been the lack of consistent post production. The Thunder are active, sending doubles and triples to L.A.'s bigs, then fronting to deny entry passes. They're begging the Lakers to take jumpers, and as their 31 hoists from downtown in Game 3 illustrate, the purple and gold are obliging.
The Lakers need to regain the paint, and to explain how to make it happen, I got together with coach Dave Miller, former assistant with Byron Scott in New Orleans. He hit me with some good, practical, nuts-and-bolts things to watch tonight. If they happen, likely the Lakers are producing inside.
If not... uh oh.
Four Problems with L.A.'s Post Game and How to Solve Them:
1. Good entry passes have been few and far between The guards bear some responsibility (more on that below) for the lack of post touches, but L.A.'s tall folk have some work to do as well. Says Miller: "The bigs have to demand the ball, not vocally, but with good initial post position. Low, big, and wide. And above the block, not below it. From there, they have to create a much better seal." Miller notes Gasol and Bynum too often are posting with their arms, and not establishing a strong position with their lower bodies.
2. How to combat OKC's fronting of the post: "Clear out the entire backside by flashing Pau to the top of the key. If Bynum is being fronted by Krstic, if Gasol brings his man to the top of the key it'll draw him from a helping position on the lob entry. If Gasol's man doesn't come with him, he'll have an easy jumper from the free throw line. All the guards need to be outside the arc to create the proper spacing."
3. Assuming the bigs are doing their job, now it's on the backcourt to do the right thing: "To get the ball into the post, you've got to get off the top of the floor. Get to the free throw line extended- the wing. And for the guard, you have to fake a pass to make a pass. If you want to deliver it high, fake low and make a step through bounce pass. To go high, fake the bounce pass, and then make the lob. The offensive guard with the ball must read the post defender's foot. If his foot is closer to the ball, don't throw it. Reverse the ball and get a better angle."
4. Bottom line, the ball has to move: "Get the ball to the second side of the offense- meaning reverse sides of the floor. And do it quickly. Make Oklahoma City's activity on defense work for you, rather than against you."