The loving Pandas of Paradise would firstly like to congratulate Metros and celtics for putting together a team capable of making the playoffs.
Since I've never been a big believer in the SG vs. SG/C vs. C position battle breakdowns, I'll just go ahead and describe some of our teams major strengths and game plans for this series.
Offensively this a series where Dwight Howard is going to be able to feast throughout. Pittsburgh has the perfect storm defensively in the frontcourt with Splitter and Griffin starting for Dwight to use his abilities to control this series. Neither boast respectable defensive abilities to slow down Dwight, as both average a 0.91 PPP for a 341 rank as well as their less than great reputations overall, while Splitter posts even worse post-up defensive numbers at 1.01 PPP.
Howard put up incredible averages against Atlanta in the playoffs last season, who boasted a better defensive arsenal than what he'll be facing in this series. Putting in 27.0 PPG, 15.5 RPG, 1.8 BPG, with a 63.0 eFG%, 67.7 TS%, and an improved 68.2 FT%. As well as a 28.2 USG% and 26.1 PER. We're going to feed Dwight early and often in this series.
And unlike the Magic, we have a nice blend of help for Dwight offensively. Giving him options that allow him space to operate, as well as secondary options to create scoring opportunities. Arron Afflalo and Marvin Williams will provide us with great 3-point spacing, as they shot 39.8% and 38.9% from distance respectively this season, with Afflalo being historically even more effective. As well as Dragic's 3-point shooting as a starter of 37.9%.
Afflalo also provides us with a more than adequate, highly efficient 2b or 3rd option, as his per 36 numbers average to 16.3 PPG with a 53.4 eFG% and 58.4 TS% on a 19.1 USG%. He has shown ability to create his own shot, and with the likes of Lou Williams or Richard Jefferson on him in this series, that shouldn't be a huge problem for him.
Next is our talented and quickly rising PG Goran Dragic, who could benefit as much from the spacing and talent around him as Howard will. Dragic was extremely impressive last season after taking over the starting PG role. As a starter he put in extremely efficient numbers:
Dragic: 18.0 PPG, 8.4 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 49.0 FG%, 37.9% 3PT%, 36.5 MPG in 28 games.
He will give us a great creator on the perimeter that can create scoring opportunities for our great shooters, as well as being able to draw the defense on drives and find Dwight down low. Dragic is also known to be very effective in the open court, and he has some great floor running players with him in transition.
Which brings us to Marvin Williams and Brandon Bass, two names that may not wow your average voter, but play very key roles effectively on our offense. Marvin with his 3-point shooting and ability to cut without the ball, and Bass with his ability to knock down the mid-range jumpshot, cut without the ball, or put the ball on the floor and get inside when we need him to. Marvin had one of his better seasons this year as he stepped into his role. He'll also be playing with players that will give him a lot more opportunities and get him the ball where he's most effective on this team.
Bass: Spot-up: 0.96 PPP, 46.6 FG% - Cutting: 1.16 PPP, 52.2 FG% - Transition: 1.07 PPP, 55.9 FG%
Williams: Spot-up: 1.00 PPP, 40.2 3PT% - Cutting: 1.16 PPP, 56.9 FG% - Transition: 1.03 PPP, 57.1 FG%, 52.2 3PT%
Afflalo: Spot-up: 1.08 PPP, 39.3 3PT% - Cutting: 1.49 PPP, 70.6 FG% - Transition: 1.26 PPP, 60.7 FG%, 41.4 3PT%
Bass also hits mid-range jumpers at a very nice rate, which will give Dwight and Dragic room to operate. From 10-15 feet Bass hits at 48.4%, while at 16-23 feet he hits at 48.0%.
Defensively we have the premier anchor in the league in Dwight Howard. The 3-time DPOY is sure to have a massive effect on any team's defense, and we have nice pieces surrounding him.
With Blake Griffin we're going to start off with Brandon Bass going at him, which will give Dwight more freedom defensively to stop penetration and protect the rim with his elite help defense. Bass posted outstanding defensive synergy numbers last season, so we're comfortable giving him first crack and slowing down Griffin.
Bass: Overall: 0.69 PPP, 31.8 %Score - Isolations: 0.58 PPP, 29.1 %Score - Post-up: 0.56 PPP, 28.8 %Score
This along with his strength and length should give Blake enough troubles.
We also have effective perimeter defenders with Afflalo, Marvin, Jimmy Butler, and Rip Hamilton. Afflalo and Marvin were their former team's top option to guard the other teams best perimeter scorers. As well as the impressive displays Jimmy Butler contributed defensively last season, and Rip's ability to harass and wear thin on a player's nerves. Between this mixture and Dwight Howard being able to meet anyone penetrating at the rim, we have good options to slowing down Deron and an undersized Lou at SG.
Dragic also isn't a slouch defensively with a 0.80 PPP, 38.5 %Score overall, and a 0.75 PPP, 38.6 %Score on isolations (which makes up the individual majority of Deron's offense).
A major factor of our defense will be it's ability to get our team out on the break with Dragic, Afflalo, Bass, Marvin and Dwight. With our ability to block shots and create turnovers, we should create a lot of easy scoring opportunities for Dragic and company on the break.
Finally, we believe we will have a very effective all around bench with this group. We have Rip Hamilton, Roddy Beaubois, and Kevin Seraphin who can create a scoring punch off of the bench. As a starter down the stretch last season Seraphin became a very nice contributor for the Wizards.
Seraphin: 14.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 53.1 FG%, 31.6 MPG in 21 games, as well as providing impressive defense.
Hamilton is also still a very effective shooter and scorer (capable starter on the league's #1 overall seed last season), and will see a big chunk of minutes in a rotation with Afflalo and Marvin. His ability to create scoring opportunities for himself and teammates will provide us with a great boost off the bench as he posted a 24.5 USG% and 21.0 AST% last season to go along with 16.8 PP36 and 4.3 AP36.
Chris Andersen, Kevin Seraphin, Jimmy Butler, and Hamilton will provide the main defensive boosts to our bench, with Butler being brought in as a lockdown option. Andersen provides us with a lot of energy, shot blocking, and rebounding when Howard gets his short breaks.
Even up to our 11th and 12th men, Tinsley and Murphy. Murphy is still a capable floor spacing PF that could see minutes with Dwight at times. And Tinsley as a nice veteran floor general that can spare Dragic and Roddy.