Philly Needs More From Simmons
Philly is easily a top 1 or 2 seed in the East. They have a good defense, great coaching, and an MVP contender. They beat up on regular season opponents and have shown they have no interest in wasting anymore of Joel Embiid’s prime years. All that is great, but, in order to get to the next level this team needs more from its Robin, Ben Simmons. Defensively, Simmons has shown he’s worthy of Defensive Player of the Year, but offensively he’s taken a step back.
His assist percentage is down significantly compared to previous years. His scoring is suffering and his passing is just ok. This all is focused around his lack of a jump shot, the most talked about flaw of his career. Its not just that he doesn’t take 3s, he doesn’t take any shots outside the paint. In order for Philly to get to the finals they need more from Ben on the offensive side.
Utah Needs Better Perimeter Defense from Gobert
Rudy Gobert is routinely discussed as the best rim protector in the league. He’s won Defensive Player of the Year twice and very well could win a third, so its strange to say he needs to improve his defense. At the rim and in the paint Gobert is as good as anyone, he deters points around the basket and breaks up offenses efficiently. This is all great in the regular season but can become an issue in the playoffs. In a seven game series teams will start to hunt Gobert and bring him out to the perimeter to take advantage of him.
His rim defense is great but he suffers in the wings. Utah can try to switch but it’ll leave too may openings for clever offenses like Phoenix and the Clippers. In order for Utah to get past the second round the will need to address their perimeter defense issues and get more clever in their pick and roll schemes.
Phoenix Needs Better Post Play from Ayton
Deandre Ayton has shown he’s was a good pick, not great but good. He fits in well with Devin Booker and Chris Paul has naturally elevated his play. His problems are that he’s not as good of a post player as he can be. He’s settling for turn around shots instead of attacking and getting to the line. Monty Williams is a great coach and has gotten this offense into the top 7 in the regular season. However, everything changes in the playoffs. Teams work defensive strategies differently. They’ll hedge, and switch trying to force the Ayton to make mistakes. For Phoenix to be a true contender Ayton needs to show he can be a real adult on the floor both with and without the ball.
Brooklyn Needs More Time
Brooklyn is professed as a favorite to win the finals, and they certainly have the talent to do so. The worry is that their three stars have played 200 minutes together all season. Granted they have proven to be the most diverse and adaptable stars in the league but, like we always say, the playoffs are different. They will need real time playing together in order to overcome the adversities of 7 game series. And with Milwaukee and Philly bringing top tier talent in the East the Nets will need to have a solid unified force to make their goals of the finals. The issue concerning the Nets isn’t anything schematically specific, its only time on the floor together.
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