Game 4 of the Chicago series almost killed me about seven different times, so it’s nice to see the Celtics have changed their strategy when leading by three in the final 10 seconds of a game. The C’s fouled the Sixers twice in the final five seconds of regulation last night rather than allowing them to attempt a three.
It’s a classic debate with no obvious right answer. (Check this post on TrueHoop for background). By fouling, you prevent the game-tying three. But you also start a cycle of free throws, and if your guys miss one, the other team all of a sudden has a chance to tie with a two-point field goal. Coaches disagree on the point at which it becomes wise to foul instead of defending as normal. When there are 10 seconds left? Five?
The C’s have apparently decided on 10, which is just about the upper limit of what coaches advise, according to John Hollinger.
Per Chris Forsberg, whose coverage on ESPNBoston is quickly becoming right there with the Herald and Globe as must-read:
“That’s something we talk about, something we work on,” said Pierce. “We were in that situation last year against the Bulls and we gave Ben Gordon the 3 when we should have fouled. Early this year in training camp and practice, we’ve talked about it. With under 10 seconds and up by 3, that’s our strategy: to foul. Play the free-throw game and get the ball to our best free-throw shooters.”
Speaking of Pierce, he gets all the kudos for his performance last night. Doc has the quote of the day, via Frank Dell’Apa in the Globe:
“He’s been the MVP, to me,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “Not only just with his play but all over. He was on guys in the second quarter and then halftime, about our play. There’s the defensive urgency, getting out on the shots. Stop making excuses. He’s doing everything you ask him to do. He’s guarding guys, he’s rebounding, he’s making big shots, he’s taking charges. I mean, I don’t know what else. He can cook Thanksgiving dinner for someone and then he’ll be doing it all. He’s been terrific.’’
Anyone want to photo-shop a photo of Pierce in a chef’s hat holding a turkey baster?
Everyone gives Pierce special praise for drawing a charge on Andre Iguodala with 34 seconds left and the C’s “clinging” to a two-point lead. (Why are teams always “clinging” to lead late in games? We need a new verb to describe this). For the record, I would have no-called that play, only because the contact came so late in Iggy’s shot process. Either way, it’s a great play from the Captain and the Truth. (My brain is in the process of erasing the Eddie House/Ray Allen botched fast break that preceded the Iggy charge)
A word on Rondo’s jumper, after the jump.
Sheed and Allen are crossing their fingers that Rondo’s game-icing jumper is something of a harbinger:
Via the Herald:
“Confidence,” Wallace said of one possible result from that shot. “It was a big shot. Even though that wasn’t the drawn-up play, that’s something you need. If this is a playoff game, now we’re not sitting there wondering will he take it? Will he take it? We know.”
Allen hopes that a seed was planted in Rondo’s psyche.
“All it takes is one,” he said. “It can cause a small fire and turn into a blaze for him.”
That’s it for now. Happy Turkey Day to our American readers. The C’s face the Raptors tomorrow. That should be interesting—more later.