The buzz all over the Celtics blogosphere after Game 1 was about whether Brian Scalabrine should start in place of Glen Davis, since Scal seemed to be a better match-up for the quick and long Rashard Lewis. I was curious to see how the match-ups on Lewis would work out, so I tracked Rashard during all 74 possessions he was in Game 2. Some quick findings:
1) Scalabrine guarded Lewis alone on 48 of those 74 possessions. Doc has clearly chosen Scal–for now–as the team’s best match-up on Lewis.
Lewis’ stats on those 48 possessions:
6-of-11 (2-of-3 from deep), 3-of-4 FTs for 17 points, one offensive rebound, four fouls drawn.
2) Big Baby guarded Lewis alone for 18 possessions.
Lewis’ stats: 0-of-3 (0-of-2 from deep), 0-0 at the foul line, no offensive rebounds, one foul drawn.
So Lewis scored all 17 of his points with Scal defending him.
On the other eight possessions, either another player guarded Lewis after a switch very early in the shot clock or two players split the possession on him evenly. Either way, it’s the 66 Baby/Scal possessions that are the main concern here.
Davis and Scal both defended Lewis the same way when he was hanging out on the perimeter or in the corner: They drifted off of him to help on Rafer Alston’s penetration or screen/rolls involving Dwight Howard as the roll man. Frankly, I was shocked at how far both men drifted off of Lewis.
Two things I saw may explain why, tonight at least, Lewis had an easier time dealing with Scal than Davis–in addition to the obvious (i.e. that Lewis had 30 more chances to attack Scal).
1) Scalabrine was a far more adventurous help defender than Davis, and that came back to to burn him on two Lewis three-pointers. (And it could have been worse).
2) Lewis can post up Scalabrine, and he can’t post up Davis–or he chose not to last night. Six Orlando possessions ended with a Lewis offensive move on Scal in the post, and Lewis got a positive result five times–three drawn fouls and two baskets. The other post-up resulted in a miss from the left block when Ray Allen came over on a late double-team. Lewis did not post up on Davis once.
This is not meant to be a slam on Scalabrine at all. He may be the best match-up the Celtics have for Lewis, and, in fairness to Scal, Lewis scored nine of his 17 points in the last 9:18 of the game–maybe not true “garbage time,” but not high-intensity, high-leverage basketball, either.
Here’s an example of Scal’s over-helping: With about 4:30 left in the 2nd quarter, Rafer Alston drove down the left side of the lane while Lewis hung out near the top of the key. Scal darted down well below the free throw line, and Alston turned and kicked the ball back out to Lewis for the easy three-pointer. Even Reggie Miller got on Scal for that one.
With 5:45 to go in the fourth quarter, Scal drifted down to the foul line area for no real reason. He wasn’t helping on penetration or screen/roll. The Magic realized it and worked the ball to Lewis at the top of the key. Scal rushed to get back, but the players had rearranged themselves so that there were bodies between Scal and Lewis, and Scal got jammed up on his way. Another easy three.
The other danger in over-helping is that it opens up Lewis’ pump-and-drive game as Scal rushes to close out on Lewis’ jump shot. Lewis drove five times on Scal last night, drew one foul and attempted four floaters/runners; he was just 1-of-4 on those shots. Scal was able to recover well and stick on Lewis’ hip, and he got good help from Perkins underneath.
When I looked at the stat sheet, I was surprised to see Lewis had taken 15 shots. As I watched the game, I kept thinking, “Don’t the Magic realize he is wide open over there?” If there’s such a thing as a quiet 17-10 game, Lewis had it tonight.
Now the teams have 48 hours to adjust, and it will be interesting to see if Van Gundy asks Lewis to do more in Game 3, and if so, how Doc chooses to defend him.