Offensively, he didn't have his jumper going, and that cost the Hornets. Denver routinely left him wide open from 17-20 feet, opting to seal off the middle. The final line says CP went 5-11, but at least 4 of those 6 misses came on shots he routinely knocked down this season (the floater in the lane in the first quarter, the bank in the 3rd, and 2 wide open jump shots). He has to be able to put those in if the lane is going to open up. Most of his 5 turnovers came on mental errors- jumping without knowing what to do with the ball, etc.
Ideal changes in Game 3: Nothing from a strategic perspective really. I felt like Paul got to his spots often and just missed some freebies. It would be nice to see him take on more of a scorer's role, but again, he was a few easy misses away from another 20 point night on 11 shots. Paul will have to play the pick and pop game better because Denver anticipated the pass very easily in Games 1 and 2.
Like Paul, West's final line (9-20) hides the number of really easy shots he missed. He botched a layup and at least three wide open 10-15 footers in the third quarter as Denver's blowout began. If Chris Paul is going to sacrifice his own shot attempts to find open looks for West, DX had better knock down a good portion of the easy ones. West also disappeared on the glass in the second half, picking up just 1 after 9 in the first half.
Ideal changes in Game 3: West HAS to do a better job on the boards. Chandler is clearly struggling right now, and the Hornets have just one other rebounder on the team (Posey). If West can't box out consistently in Game 3, this series is over. Defensively, I hope his approach stays the same; cede the 15 foot jumper to Kenyon Martin. Offensively, he has to make shots. It sounds simplistic, but there's no two ways about it; if he can't hit the wide open 15 footer, it's over.
At first glance, Peja did a lot right in Game 2. He was very efficient from the floor (5-9), bolstered by a 4-5 night from three and 3-3 night from the stripe. But he also cost us in many ways. Carmelo abused him at will. While Melo's settling for jump shots was probably a poor strategic decision on his part, Peja was unable to contest his shots at all. Peja also turned in a Hilton-esque 0 rebounds in 30 minutes.
Ideal changes in Game 3: Nothing. This is who Peja is: a great shooter who doesn't provide much else. Expecting 10 boards or a couple blocks is relatively absurd. We just have to hope the help defense is better, and that Peja can somewhat cancel his other liabilities by hitting threes.
I'm surprised Byron Scott didn't draw up more plays for Butler in the second half, given how hot Bop was in the first. I'd comment on his defense, but I think it fits more in the Byron Scott section.
Ideal changes in Game 3: Defensively, see: Byron Scott section. Offensively, I hope the three stroke carries over.
Lost in the humiliation of back-to-back blowouts was the play of Posey. Along with Tyson Chandler, he was our only other consistent rebounding presence (with West falling off in the 2nd half). He was a spark on isolation offense, and hit his first three in what feels like ages. He didn't get as many minutes on Carmelo Anthony as expected, instead ceding defensive minutes to Peja. Overall, he still made a nice impact in weakside defense.
Ideal changes in Game 3: Pretty obvious... JP needs to be the primary defender on Melo. This is the matchup he was made for, a strong offensive player that likes to take it to the bucket. I can see some of the logic behind Byron's choice of Peja as the primary defender, but it clearly hasn't worked. If Posey can do an adequate job on Melo, everything else- the threes, the isos- is just gravy. Poz needs to have one job and one job alone.
He's clearly not right, so I'm impressed that he finished with 11 boards (4 offensive). Yet, there were numerous instances where he was just flat beat on the boards. TC finished with a solid night offensively, guiding in quite a few wayward Chris Paul lobs. And last but not least, he had an outstanding night on defense. Nene shooting 4-13 is an easily forgotten aspect of the blowout (Nene finished 3-12 with 5 points if you exclude a mind-bogglingly amazing pass from Anthony Carter). So at least that aspect of Chandler's game is in great form.
Ideal changes in Game 3: Boxing out. I understand that Tyson can't get lift, and thus can't reach a lot of his "normal" rebounds. But boxing out is another story entirely. The monster putback slams by Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin were both results of non-box outs from Chandler and David West. Other than that, not too much. Chandler's 3-7 FG line doesn't look fantastic, but Chris Paul was throwing him some really poor passes.
Devin Brown was decent. Antonio Daniels provided absolutely nothing. The big man rotation still puzzles me immensely. Melvin Ely and Sean Marks played huge, semi-effective minutes to close out the regular season. Suddenly, they're both supplanted by Hilton Armstrong, who's playing like garbage? It doesn't make much sense. Overall, the bench is still a joke. It will take some extra brilliance from the starters and Posey to cancel out the consistent negative contributions of this bunch.
The only guy who deserves some semblance of praise. Heading into the game, Byron was tasked with three major adjustments- get David West untracked, get the 3 pt shooting untracked, and guard Chauncey Billups. In my mind, he went 2 for 3.
Let's start with the shooting. For much of the season, Byron's idea of "getting Peja going" has been forcing a couple isolations to him in the first few possessions, watching him miss, and then not going to him for the rest of the game. In Game 2, the Peja strategy involved running him off multiple screens on every possession. When he did iso, Chris Paul made sure Peja did so against the likes of Anthony Carter. Not only did it result in quite a few open looks for Peja, the screens also wore down Anthony, forcing him to shoot more jumpers instead of driving (which he knocked down, but I digress). Rasual Butler benefitted from the screen-setting by hanging around the weak side of the court.
The gameplan for David West also worked well. Instead of posting against Kenyon Martin, West posted on mismatches by screening for Paul. Additionally, Byron had West move laterally from the strong side to the weak side, instead of having him hover over a single region. The downfall of the whole strategy was poor execution from West himself, but the gameplan was solid.
The major shortcoming of Byron's adjustments was defense on Billups; it was too chaotic. I thought the initial matchup had it exactly correct- put Paul on CB and pick him up at half court on every play. For some reason, the Hornets did this for half of the first quarter before switching Paul onto J.R. Smith. Not only does Paul on Smith make no sense, but Devin Brown (and others) also struggled mightilyin sticking with Billups. New Orleans rarely went back to the original alignment.