Welcome back to The 3-Point Play, a semi-regular recurring feature here at HoopChalk. Every so often, I’ll take a quick look at sets from three different teams that have something in common. Rather than devoting a separate post to each of them, they’ll all be grouped together here. Today, we’ve got the most common game-opening sets for the Hawks, Celtics and Bobcats.
In half of their 18 games so far this season, the Hawks have run a straight post-up for Josh Smith on their first half-court possession of the game, with little in the way of initial action to free him or secondary action on the back side. In the other half of their games, they’ve used off-ball screens to try to free up a shooter for a catch-and-shoot look on the game’s first possession. They’ve used pin-downs, staggered double screens, and even let Korver just try to navigate those screens in any way he saw fit.
It’s difficult to suss out exactly what Boston was trying to accomplish on many of their game-opening possessions because very often that first option has been cut off and they’ve been forced to pursue other avenues. Most often, though, it seems like they’re trying to find a way to get Kevin Garnett in the post. They’ve run a few other sets – most notably running Paul Pierce off a screen (though even on this play, you can see Garnett ducking into post position at the same time Pierce comes off the screen) - but have mostly tried to establish KG on the block. On most of these plays, they’ll have him work as an on- or off-ball screener before rolling or ducking into post position.
Whatever the Bobcats are trying to accomplish on their first possession of the game, it involves way too much Byron Mullens. Mullens has gotten a post-up or isolation on the Bobcats’ first half court possession in 11 of their 20 games so far, and has scored exactly zero points on those plays. No one should have to watch video of that, so I’m not going to show it to you.