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How the Atlanta Hawks have used the pick and pop to spread the floor against Indiana

The Hawks and the Pacers have been involved in a chess match of sorts throughout their first round playoff series but Atlanta's pick and pop game has been a tactic that Indiana has had few answers for.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In a seven game playoff series it's uncommon for a team to have any surprises left for their opponent by the end of the series. That has been the case for Atlanta and Indiana as the Hawks have done little to adjust from the way they started the series. The Pacers have made adjustments to help slow down point guard Jeff Teague but they have struggled to find an answer for Atlanta's pick and pop game which was in the spotlight in Game 5 thanks to Mike Scott's outburst from the three-point line.

Paul George on Indiana's pick and roll defense in Game 5

"It was frustrating because we didn't make a change," George said of the Pacers' defense. "We let them run the same action, the same shot. We didn't do nothing. So that was frustrating."

Change they haven't and the Hawks have been using a rather simple action combined with spacing to get good looks from the three-point line the entire series.

Here we look at the first of several Shelvin Mack/Mike Scott pick and pop situations in the second quarter of Game 5. As Mack uses the screen the Pacers force him down to the baseline which is a tactic used against the pick and roll by a lot of teams. Scott's defender Luis Scola goes deep into help position to cut off the drive. Scott spaces the floor at the top of the key. Notice that Elton Brand and his defender Ian Mahinmi are located at the free throw line.


Mack delivers a sharp pass back to Scott at the top of the key and it's virtually impossible for Scola to close with enough time to bother the three-point attempt.


Here is the play in real time. Notice how far the pick and roll goes to the baseline and how much area Indiana is asking Scola to cover.

As George alluded to after the game, here is the exact same situation involving the exact same players. Mack uses the screen and again Scola slides into deep help position.


One option available to the Pacers in this situation would have been to have Mahinmi slide out to Scott with Scola sliding back in to take Brand. That seems like a better situation than having Scola run from the baseline to try and recover against Scott.


Mack again delivers a good pass to Scott who knocks down another three. Notice again that Scola has little chance to recover to Scott due to spacing on the floor.


Here is the play in real time. Notice how close Mahinmi is to Scott before Brand's roll takes him to the basket. Also again, Scola tries to rotate from the baseline to the top of the key.

Still in the second quarter of Game 5 but this time Paul George and David West are back on the floor for the Pacers. West is defending Scott while George picks up Lou Williams in transition. Williams uses Scott's screen and a familiar situation develops.


West slides into help position and Scott spaces out to the right wing. Notice George Hill is also in help position but he can't fully commit to the drive due to Kyle Korver's presence on the left wing. Atlanta's spacing has once again presented a dilemma for the Pacers. West actually does a pretty good job of recovering but by this time Scott is smoking and it doesn't matter.


Here is the play in real time. Notice how all Hill can do is step at Williams because he is not going to leave Korver on the wing. Scott was 4-4 from three-point range in the quarter at this point but Korver is still drawing the most attention from Indiana's defense.

Again this is a tactic that Atlanta has used throughout the series. Here is a similar situation involving Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap from Game 4. Millsap is being defended by Roy Hibbert while Teague is being defended by George. Jeff uses a solid screen by Millsap that forces Hibbert to cut off the drive. Paul then slides to the wing to space the floor.


Teague hits Millsap with a nice behind the back pass and there is plenty of room to get off the three-point attempt. Notice the spacing in this sequence. Korver, DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic are on one side of the floor. If Millsap were unable to get off the attempt from the perimeter he would have an iso situation against Hibbert. However, Hibbert can't recover in time and Millsap knocks down the triple.


As this play develops, look at how the Hawks overload the right side of the floor to set up the two-man game with Teague and Millsap.

This sequence occurred in Game 1 and once again it is a familiar situation. Mack uses Millsap's screen and then spaces to the left wing. Hibbert slides into deep help position despite Mack not being nearly the threat to penetrate the paint that Teague is.


Once again, Hibbert can't recover from deep help position in time to bother Millsap.


As you watch the play in real time notice that Indiana is actually in pretty good help position but Atlanta has shooters spread to both wings and the defense must respect that.

There is nothing complicated or earth shattering about this tactic the Hawks are using. They are just forcing Indiana to defend the entire floor due to having so many good shooters on the court at the same time.