Kevin, while I appreciate the grittiness of the game (I do love the grit), last night was not basketball – it was something else – maybe it was arena football, or rugby, who knows.   I am seriously beginning to wonder about our offense.  These are the 2 questions I pondered after last night’s abomination:

 

Are we a team of bad passers?  (Right now, Yes)

Are we a selfish team?  (No)

 

Let’s get this out of the way first: we are impatient on offense at times, with Cassell / Maggette / Brand taking a jumper with :17 left on the shot clock.  However, this isn’t a high % of total possessions (though with our lack of offensive coherency, the % is increasing), and it’s a “hurry-up” strategy that catches teams by surprise and works for us if we’re making shots.

 

Let’s focus on all the other possessions, where we’re patient and trying to execute a half-court set:  as you’ve alluded to in previous posts, we’re just not very good at it!  Someone ends up over-dribbling (Shaun), or just holding the ball way too long (Mobley).  Brand and Kaman are guilty of it too:  in short, there are potential "black holes" on the court at any time during a game.

 

This results more times than not in the following:  :7 left on the shot clock, [insert player name] is forced to “create” a low % shot with a defender in his grill.   Really, do we ever get a nice, clean open look?  Sometimes I think we only score because we're a team of very talented one-on-one scorers.  This is especially glaring without Cassell (who if he doesn’t look to shoot it right away, gets us set up quickly).

 

This begs the question: are we just bad passers and there’s nothing we can do about it? 

 

An inexorable truth of basketball, something that any player on any level knows, is that passing is infectious.  There are great passers, but there aren’t really bad passers.  Look at the Pistons – hell look at the Mavs!   They look to make the extra pass, to rotate the ball quickly and find the open man.  And people are actually moving off the ball and making themselves available as a passing option.   

So who’s accountable here?

 

Dunleavy Junior

Well, actually his father. (I couldn’t resist the sliver of an opening I had to note the following:  Junior wouldn’t even crack the NBA Affirmative Action Top 20 – go ahead, think about it, we did at poker night a month back… see?)  When your team doesn’t do the following things well: space the floor (notice how we are always over-loaded on the weak side); move without the ball and to the shooter; screen-and-roll w/ an out; make the extra pass; avoid “black-hole"-itis; give passing options when trapped (Kaman gets double-teamed… he has no where to go!) – I think it’s on the head coach.  

I’m ready to have my mind changed, but from where I sit, Dunleavy really can’t coach offense that well.  I am reminded of the debacle that was Game 7 of the 2000 NBA Western Conference Finals. 

 

Game 7 Shaq

This may be most people’s enduring image -  but mine is of Scottie Pippen holding the ball at the top of the key watching the rest of an immensely talented Blazers team just stand around, being forced to throw up desperation 18-footers with no time left on the shot clock as a lead and title chances evaporate…  

Someone please argue with me and tell me I’m wrong, because right now I have too many memories of 7 minute FG-less stretches where we can’t execute a simple offensive set and get someone a high % open look.