So I signed up today for the Synergy Sports Technology packaged that I linked to here. One of the big take-aways I had from Game 1 was that Brad seemed to do a better job against Shaq in the post than Joakim was able to do. Now that I have the game broken down by SST, I decided to see if I was right. So let's examine the tape.
Joakim started and was the first to get a shot at the Diesel. Here's how it went:
- 2-2, tie game. 10:05 remaining in the 1st Q, Shaq catches the ball in the right post with Joakim on his back, trying to force him to the baseline and taking away the spin to the middle of the lane. Shaq takes two hard dribbles as Joakim slides backwards causing Shaq to stumble slightly. Derrick came over to double along the baseline and as Shaq put up his shot, Joakim blocked his shot leading to a run out for the Bulls. +1 for Joakim.
- 8-5, Bulls lead, 8:29 remaining in the 1st Q. Shaq again catches the ball on the right block with Joakim on his back, leaning hard into him. This is a near exact replay of the previous play as Joakim takes his weight off Shaq as Derrick comes to help with a double. Shaq stumbles because of Joakim's weight shift and takes multiple steps and gets called for a walk. +1 for Joakim.
So Joakim had two positive plays in his first attempt at stopping Shaq on the block. Good job, Jo.
Brad got the next look at the Big Fella.
- 16-10 Cle leads, 4:46 remaining in the 1st Q. Shaq catches the ball on the left block with Brad on him. Apparent right away is that Brad has kept Shaq from establishing the same deep post position that he'd gotten on the right block with Joakim on him. Brad's girth has helped him here. Shaq takes one quick dribble, feints like he's going to go into the lane and then reverse spins to the baseline and hits a pretty banking hook shot over Brad. Brad got caught leaning a little too hard on Shaq on that one which is what made the spin so effective. -1 for Brad.
- 46-28, Cle leads, 4:47 remaining in the 2nd Q. Shaq gets the ball on the right block after fighting with Brad for position. And again, Brad has forced Shaq to catch the ball slightly off the block, denying him deep post position. Shaq takes a couple dribbles and attempts to back Brad down, but can't budge him much. He turns into the lane and puts up a contested hook shot that falls well short. +1 for Brad.
- 46-30, Cle leads, 4:03 remaining in the 2nd Q. Shaq catches the ball along the left baseline a few feet off the block and turns his shoulder into Brad and attempts to bully him to the block. He goes too hard and knocks Brad to the floor. Offensive foul. Turnover. +1 for Brad
- 51-37, Cle leads, 1:27 remaining in the 2nd Q, Shaq is able to get deeper post position on the left block by setting a screen for Anthony Parker. Brad was watching Parker with the ball and thinking about hedging out, but then Parker bounced a pass into Shaq in the post. Shaq is able to spin to the baseline again and hit another hook shot over Brad's contest. Not a terrible possession by Brad. He still made Shaq work, he just made a tough shot. -1 for Brad
- 53-37, 1:03 remaining in the 2nd Q, this one is really tough for Brad. Shaq's running the break with LeBron leading it. Brad parks himself right in the middle of the paint near the charge circle to protect the rim from the incoming LeBron, but Bron pulls the ball back out. As he does this, Shaq plows into Brad and gets his hips low on him and sort of swim moves in front of Brad right in front of the bucket. LeBron obviously sees this and hits Shaq with the entry pass. Shaq then elbows Brad in the face and a foul is called on Brad. Go figure. - 1 for Brad (but not really bad defense, it was necessary to protect the rim. . . the Bulls other defenders need to get back on that better so Brad isn't forced into that position).
So Brad got beat 3 times and shut Shaq down twice. Brad made Shaq work for his points, though, and I'd argue that him getting beat on all but one of these wasn't really the result of bad defense, but good offense beating Brad's good D.
Joakim got the next shot at Shaq in the 3rd Q.
- 62-45, Cle lead, 9:56 remaining in the 3rd, this was the play that made Joakim look the worst. You all remember it. I won't bother describing it because you can just watch it here:
Notice how deep the post position is that Shaq is able to get on Noah. Noah's simply too slight to stop Shaq from getting where he wants.
Noah was getting a breather the next time Shaq touched the ball in the post. Brad got another shot.
- 76-66, Cle leads, 9:35 left in the 4th Q, Shaq catches the ball on the left block, flailing slightly as Brad really fighting with him to keep him out of the paint and off the block. Shaq catches the ball about 2 feet off the block, takes a power dribble, spins to the baseline but takes a contested hook with Brad all over him. He misses short. Bulls get the rebound and a run out. +1 for Brad.
Noah re-entered the game and was playing with Brad and the Bulls were playing zone. For some reason Noah was matched up on Shaq, despite Brad's presence on the floor.
- 78-69, 7:54 left in the 4th Q, Shaq catches the ball just off the right block with Noah on him. The Bulls are in their zone as mentioned above and Brad is watching the ball, looking to help. Noah does a good job of denying Shaq deep position initially, as he catches the ball about two feet off the block. Unfortunately, it hardly matters as Shaq power dribbles his way into Noah and bullies him backwards. As Shaq turns to shoot, he's fouled either by Noah or Brad coming over to help. I couldn't tell which one whacked him, but again this is a failure by Joakim to keep Shaq from getting where he wants. -1 for Joakim.
- I couldn't find it on the SST breakdown, but I also distinctly remember Joakim grasping onto Shaq for dear life at one point for the foul because he simply could not stop him. So that was another one that went against Joakim.
Basically, Joakim had some early success against Shaq by backing off of him and forcing Shaq to shuffle his feet awkwardly, which lead to a block and a travel. Then Brad came in and had mixed results against Shaq, but forced him out of deep post position pretty consistently. After Noah got Shaq the first two times, Shaq abused him for the rest of the game by forcing Joakim to either foul or get scored over.
So, Joakim didn't do quite so terribly as I initially thought, but he wasn't that great and he wasn't able to make Shaq work enough on the other end. Shaq is god awful in pick and roll defense (ht: Sebastian Pruiti for also pointing this out). He doesn't get out and hedge at all. This should lead our bigs to get some open looks and indeed it did. Hakim hit an open look of a screen and roll that Shaq didn't step out on. Brad hit a jumper that Shaq actually did deign to step out and at least half-heartedly challenge. But Joakim was given three straight wide open 15 footers and bricked all of them. That's simply not good enough. That's why Brad needs to shadow Shaq. He does the best job of denying him deep post position and preventing Shaq from getting anything easy. None of Shaq's dunks were against Brad. One was in transition (through a terribly stupid foul by Kirk), the other was the spin and dunk above on Noah. So please, Vinny . . . shadow Shaq with Brad. It's your only hope of slowing him on the block and it would allow Noah to match Varejao's energy instead of wasting his legs trying to prevent Shaq from getting to the rim, which is a futile exercise for Jo anyway.
As an addendum . . . Synergy Sports Technology is awesome. It's my new favorite toy. Hopefully, I'll have time to write more posts like these, but right now I should actually be studying for finals (woops), so perhaps not.