When we last gathered in the film room, we talked about the Cavaliers’ woes on the defensive glass. This week, we’re going to look no further than last night’s comeback effort that just fell short against the Indiana Pacers and the role Dion Waiters played in it. We’ll also look at that final failed inbound play. As always, if you have a player or recurring theme that you think I should take a more in-depth look at, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cavaliers faced the Indiana Pacers last night without Kyrie Irving or Jarrett Jack, and as would be expected, they lost. What wasn’t expected, however, was the wine and gold rallying from 16 points down to briefly take the lead and lose a heart-breaker by 4 points, 82-78. Dion Waiters took over the game for a short stretch, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and dishing out a couple of key crunch-time assists. Let’s take a look at what the D-Waiters Zone looked like, and talk about how Dion can live in there more often.
Here, we see Dion guarded by Danny Granger on the left wing early in the shot clock. He wastes no time as the side clears out and he tries to take Granger 1-on-1 going left, his preferred direction.
Here, we see Waiters create a little bit of separation by pushing his way into Granger’s chest. This is something we don’t see a lot of from Dion. Any offensive foul that he picks up is primarily on a drive-and-kick scenario where he leaves his feet and plows the defender on the pass.
But, you see what it gets him, an open look at a mid-range jumper which he drains to start his scoring run.
About a minute later, we see more early offense from Waiters and the Cavs. Right down the floor, Anderson Varejao sets a screen at the three-point arc for Dion.
The Pacers don’t have the same philosophy in pick-and-roll defense as the Cavaliers do. Instead of Roy Hibbert showing and cutting off Dion’s progress toward the basket, he’ll allow him to drive toward him because of his shot-blocking prowess.
But, Waiters beats that by pulling up again from mid-range and drilling the shot.
Waiters is clearly in his self-named zone right now, but Hibbert still doesn’t come out to fully contest his mid-range shot attempts. Here’s another screen set by Varejao early in the offense. Because of the offensive spacing and the well-set pick, Waiters has all the room he needs.
Hibbert is late to contest, and Waiters rings it up yet again. While mid-range is statistically the least efficient shot you can take, it’s Dion’s bread and butter. In fact, Dion’s effective field goal percentage from 15-24 feet is better than his conversion rate from five feet and in.
Here, we see the wine and gold push the ball up the court in transition, led by Matthew Dellavedova. There’s good spacing with Tristan Thompson as the trailer and Dion Waiters settting up on the left wing. Delly passes it to Waiters early enough for him to get in scoring position before the defense sets.
Waiters confidently rises and drills it over Lance Stephenson. I think the Cavaliers, especially without Andrew Bynum, need to look to push the ball more. When you’re matched up with as good of a halfcourt defense as Indiana’s, you should look to run, take good early shots, and draw fouls on the run as much as possible.
Now, let’s look at Dion effecively drive and dish after he set it up with his scoring binge. We see a pick set by Tristan much higher than usually, a few feet beyond the three-point arc.
With Indiana’s strategy to have their big men hang back, David West cautiously steps out to stop Waiters. He responds by blowing right by him and the screened Stephenson. Take a look at Anderson Varejao, standing out in the right corner. Watch what happens as Waiters breaks through and forces Hibbert to show.
Dion drives and draws Hibbert, dishing to Varejao, who is one of the best at slipping in late in the post and finding a crease to score and finish at the rim.
Hibbert still recovers in time to partially contest the shot, but credit Andy as he powers through and slams it home with his right hand.
With under one minute to play, the Cavaliers ran a Dion and Andy pick-and-roll on the left side of the floor.
Waiters uses the pick effectively and for the second time, creates space against Granger with his right shoulder. It’s a 2-on-1 scenario at this point with the Cavaliers’ offensive spacing.
Waiters does a great job at waiting until the very last second to toss it to Varejao.
Again, Hibbert recovers to challenge, and he’s a little bit closer this time. So, Varejao takes it to the other side of the rim and slams it home, using the rim to protect against the blocked shot.
With 43 seconds to go, the Cavaliers set up down two to either tie or take the lead. They danced with what got them there, the Waiters and Varejao pick-and-roll. Instead of picking a side, Andy comes out high above the top of the key and sets his pick.
Waiters gets initial space and then heads to the basket with Hibbert draping him.
Dion dribbles out of it and back out to the top, but before he does, you’ll see Matthew Dellavedova open in the corner.
Dion takes a long three pointer after dribbling back out and misfires.
The Cavaliers grab the offensive board, though, and after calling a timeout, they have 20 seconds left and are down just two. In this scenario, against a much better team, I would have went for the win, but you’ll see the Cavs played for OT. Waiters starts his drive right on elite defender Paul George, who is taking away any possibility of going left.
Dion gets by George, but Hibbert’s waiting for him, and Andy doesn’t have the same angle to score as before with all of the length surrounding Dion.
Dion tries to go up and under, but Hibbert’s size and length are just too much and he defends the shot well without fouling.
You will see below that the Pacers should’ve been called for the shove of Varejao under the basket, the same call the officials made against the Cavaliers about half a dozen times earlier in the game.
George Hill gives Andy the hip check as he goes up for the offensive rebound that he likely would have secured.
And, to the surprise of nobody, Varejao ends up horizontal.
Let’s finally look at that ill-fated inbound play, drawn up by Mike Brown. Dellavedova is the inbounder with Waiters and Earl Clark low in the key and C.J. Miles and Varejao up high.
Andy screens across for Miles, who flashes away from the ball. Waiters picks across for Clark who flashes to the nearside corner.
Miles and Varejao screen down on a staggered double pick for Waiters, who curls around toward the top of the key to receive the ball. Clark’s open in the corner, but they don’t want to go to him unless it’s a last resort.
Dion isn’t open on the curl because of the wise way that George and the Pacers overplay that flash point. We’re nearing five seconds, and both Waiters and Miles flash desperately to the ball, but it’s far too late. Delly has to inbound it to Clark.
The problem, of course, is that Earl Clark is inexplicably and bone-headedly standing on the sideline. I don’t know where to begin. First, let’s start with the decision to call unnecessary back to back timeouts by Brown, eliminating Delly’s out on that garbage inbound with the Cavaliers having no timeouts left. Second, let’s mention bringing Earl Clark back out on the floor after he had not played for several minutes. Compound that with the fact that he had a mental error in the BOSTON game where he got the ball inbounded into him and didn’t get a shot off in time!
Finally, let’s go back to the out of bounds play once more. According to our own Scott Sargent, the Cavaliers have two such plays to go for a three pointer. It’s obvious that the Pacers either knew this play or just guessed properly. Having only one apparent target (Waiters curling high) is not a plan for success. They need to have at least two ball handlers flash TOWARD the ball earlier in the play. Doing so up against the five count doesn’t do any good. Instead of Miles flashing away to start action for a double screen, that should’ve been Clark’s role. Mike Brown said that exact group had not practiced the play, but again, that goes back to coaching and having your team prepared. If my high school team could have three or four sideline inbound plays with an option for each player to receive the ball, I’d like to think a NBA team could manage that as well. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Brown’s end of game offensive X’s and O’s called into question, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Kirk Lammers grew up on the Marblehead Peninsula and is a graduate of THE Ohio State University. He now lives in Northeast Ohio, and you can find him at the ballpark, at the Q, or far too often on Twitter (@WFNYKirk)."