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Already sick of losing to the Bulls: Game 2

 

Let me state this emphatically: There is no way the Celtics offense will play as poorly against the Bulls again as it did in Game 1.

The Celtics should not lose to a team like Chicago when they hold the Bulls to 43 percent shooting and turn the ball over just 12 times on offense.

But the C’s shot 40 percent, registered only 16 assists in 53 minutes of play and saw one of the greatest shooters the basketball gods ever forged play arguably the worst game of his career.

This cannot happen again, not against a team in the bottom half of the league in defense efficiency. The Boston offense looked frenetic, rushed and out of sync — for maybe the first time this season, I was urging the C’s (as if they could hear me) to slow down a bit. Usually I am with Heinsohn, encouraging them to run. Let me be clear on this: I don’t want the C’s to play Mike Fratello-era Cleveland Cavs ball in some tempo battle with the Bulls. I just want them to run a smoother offense.

They are better at offense then the Bulls are at defense, and that gap will show itself with crisper passing and solid screen-setting. (Doc reserved special criticism after the game for the below average screens players were setting, especially for Ray).

On defense, the Celtics have limited options for what to do with Derrick Rose. When Rondo went over screens, he penetrated. When Rondo went under screens, he either made jumpers or turned the corner so quickly he got by both Rondo and the screen/roll defender on his way to the lane. When the big men showed out aggressively, Rose (occasionally) hurt Boston with his passing.

(If you can stomach a full chronicle of the Rose Game, I’d recommended Kevin Arnovitz’s outstanding breakdown on TrueHoop).

So what are you supposed to change? I’m not sure there’s any answer. The Celtics generally defend the screen/roll as well any team in the league. Rondo probably shouldn’t gamble for the poke-away steal from behind so much.

Beyond that, this is a case of we bring our defense, you bring your offense, and we’ll see if you can do it again. The Celtics did a solid job on everyone else, excluding Ty Thomas’ out of character 8-of-12 shooting. There is nothing wrong with a defensive game plan that designates rotating out to Ty Thomas as the least urgent priority if Ty Thomas is standing 20 feet from the basket.

Kelly Dwyer says Thomas has improved his jumper, and Kelly knows that team better than probably anyone on Earth, but it’s still a shot I’ll live with–as long as there is some effort to contest.

Tony Allen probably needs to play more than eight minutes. He’s the C’s best defensive option on both Gordon and Hinrich, and he’s a capable offensive player if given the chance. I was surprised how sparingly Doc played him; as Steve Weinman over at CelticsBlog told us yesterday, Gordon didn’t score once Doc put Tony Allen on him in the fourth quarter. (Of course, Gordon didn’t score at all in the first three quarters).

One thing of note: The Bulls secured 81 percent of available defensive rebounds, an outstanding mark for any team, especially one that ranked 28th in defensive rebounding rate this season. Some experts (including our friend Mr. Arnovitz) are killing the C’s (or, more accurately in Kevin’s case, crediting the Bulls) for the 53-45 rebounding edge Chicago had in Game 1. But the C’s grabbed 78 percent of available DRBs on their end, a rate that would lead the league.

So the Bulls won the rebounding battle by limiting offensive boards, something they are generally not good at. It will be interesting to see if the Celtics can get some extra points this way in Game 2, or if they are forsaking the offensive glass–to an extent–to limit the Bulls transition chances.

That’s it. It’s Game 2, and I’m already sick of Joakim Noah’s face. Let’s get a win and head out to Chicago.

(Highly recommended opposing sites: By the Horns and Blog a Bull).

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