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Turkey Day Notebook: The Ben Gordon Effect and Other Observations

 

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.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    My brother, the Philly fan, is here right now so I wanted to send out a big thank you to the Cs for last night’s game. Yes, I’ve tried to reason with him, but he has not seen the light…..yet. Warning, random thoughts ahead:

    It was great to see all the shots in the paint with the opportunities for offensive rebounds & all the trips to the foul line. FANTASTIC! If we can only get Sheed to join in low post buffet… Maybe they should work out some bonus money for every post up.

    Loved how KG sealed his man & Rondo lobbed the ball right in for an ez bucket. Loved seeing Ray taking it to the hoop & his mid range game. Loved Perk’s tenacity. He got blocked, but instead of arguing for a foul, he fought to get the ball back & went right back at ‘em & battled to get that bucket.

    Rondo looked distracted, but then he turned it around later. Rajon is fantastic leading a break knowing who to pass to, when to make the pass, & how to make that pass.

    Rajon handles the ball so well–even when he has the afterburners kicked in. He is a natural for the pick and roll–except it is more like a pick & run play. Sheed came out to set the pick & Rondo just blew right by the big guarding Sheed leaving his original man & Sheed’s defender in his wake. That just leaves 3 defenders as he rockets to the rim. This is catastrophic for the opposing D. Those 3 defenders have to make big decisions. Stay with their man or protect the rim. Chaos ensues because there is not enough time to make a good plan, communicate, or rotate. Even if they decide to protect the rim, they may not be able to get there in time. If someone does get there then they have left someone wide open. This play seems to have no limit. I like how they set the pick on the far left side, foul line, & right side. The result was the same. Rondo in the lane wreaking havoc. Rondo coming off those picks is just shredding the other team’s D. It’s clear that people start getting confused & sometimes everybody will come to Rondo leaving people open everywhere. I just don’t think Rondo realizes how much of a weapon his dribble to the basket is. When he made the behind the back fake, 2 Philly defenders actually bit on the fake moving away from the rim. That is bizarre to see Rajon moving to the rim while the D is moving in the opposite direction b/c of a fake. The fake also seemed to hypnotize the defender in the lane allowing Rajon to get the step. I’d much rather see Rondo get a pick & head to the basket than staying outside the paint shooting jumpers. He is great using that glass.

    I love how excited Paul gets on defense. When he blocked Iggy’s shot he was just as excited as hitting a 3 or dunking. I saw Ray take 1 in another game, but sadly Paul seems to be the ONE designated charge drawer. Also loved Paul at the point at times (they should have directly in bounded to him for that last play right before the half).

    Rajon had that key steal late, but what was really impressive was him diving on the floor to tap it to Paul.

    I’ve seen where some people are complaining that this was not a blow out win. I think any team hot from 3 is an instant threat. Sure, Boston should of had better 3 defense, but those shots are worth 3 points for a reason. They are hard. It was great to see the Cs fight so hard. Toughness. The Cs are looking tougher.

    I think getting to the free throw line often also has some pyschological consequences. It makes defenders feel bad that they don’t have what it takes to defend without fouling. Also, as you draw more fouls you put people on the bench & get defenders mad/worrying about the refs. You divert their atttention & take away their focus on the game because the refs are getting in their heads. They get distracted, and in a best case scenario actually start arguing with the refs while you stay cool & focused in the current moment. Free throws also slow the pace of the game making it harder on teams who like to run. It’s good stuff.

    I agree with Tommy. There is no reason for the Cs not to get into their offense quicker. I don’t see how walking the ball up serves any purpose.

  • http://www.the-settlersofcatan.com/the_settlers_of_catan_details.php Beau Bish

    Entertaining page. My family and I were just discussing this the other evening. Also your blog looks great on my old palm treo. Now thats uncommon. Nice work.

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