As the Philadelphia 76ers took a series lead over the Toronto Raptors in the conference semifinals, they’ve had a distinct offensive change.
Philadelphia finished just 19.3 percent of possessions via the ballhandler in a pick-and-roll offense, which was a lower frequency than all but just one team in the NBA during the regular season. It was a point of discontent for Sixers’ wing Jimmy Butler, who reportedly complained about the lack of pick-and-roll run by coach Brett Brown.
But that rate has spiked up a bit to 23.4 percent since the postseason began.
“We haven’t had many point guards here that people go over on,” Brown told reporters on Thursday evening. “Usually, when you run a pick and roll, there is a man to screen, there is somebody there. We have had guards who have been very good … but that’s not their strength. [For us] to run a pick-and-roll, you need to have somebody to screen. So when you say, well, ‘Why you are running more?’ It is because [defenders] are stuck out on Jimmy and Tobias.”
Brown said that “opens up a lot of other things” including spacing of the floor and rolling for big man Joel Embiid. You can watch the action unfold below during the first round against the Brooklyn Nets.
The increased pick-and-roll volume is fantastic news for not only Butler but for fellow midseason addition Harris – who during the regular season had finished most of his possessions as a spot-up shooter when he was acquired by Philadelphia.
Harris has proven he is more than able to play off the ball and thrive as one of the best shooting options for his team. He spoke to HoopsHype about his efficiency on this play type.
“I consider myself a good adaptor to different situations,” explained Harris. ” So here, at times, I’m used as a spot-up person for someone else to space the floor. I’m always ready to do what I can to help our team win. I understand the importance of that, too.”
The plays specifically designed for Harris as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, however, have been a huge source of his playoff successes. He noted that depending on how defenses present themselves, that is an offense he would be eager to run.
When including his passes, he has generated 7.3 points per game from pick-and-roll possessions during the postseason.
That ranks Top 15 among all who have appeared in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It also represents a notable improvement from what he recorded (4.8 per game) during 27 regular season appearances with the Sixers.
Butler, meanwhile, ranks Top 10 with the same qualifiers, producing 9.5 points per game and has even gotten some run at point guard for his team.
He has averaged 1.06 points per possession including his passes out of the pick-and-roll during the postseason, which falls in the 79th percentile. However, the four-time All-Star thinks the source of this success is fairly easy to explain.
“Chemistry is a bad word [to describe it],” said Butler, when HoopsHype asked him about the upward trend.
“It’s simple enough to know that when you have some good basketball players out there, the game happens. You make the right plays. You do what you’re supposed to do with the basketball. And that’s all it is. The game is really, really simple. I think at times, we as players decide to make it hard. But if you’re open, shoot it. If not, pass.”