Pace: 87 possessions (ultra-slow)
Offensive Efficiency: 105.7 points/100 possessions (league average)
Defensive Efficiency: 97.7 points allowed/100 possessions (league best)
Some bullets before Brian Robb posts his full recap:
• Let’s start where we should start: KG’s performance. One miss in 12 attempts, 24 points in 34:40 of playing time (his second-highest minutes total of the season) and credible defense on Michael Beasley. And that’s saying something, since Beasley almost single-handedly won this game by scoring 11 points over the first 4:00 of the 4th quarter with KG on the bench.
If there’s one thing to store away for the next time these two play, it’s this: Rasheed Wallace cannot guard Michael Beasley, and asking him to do so is defensive suicide.
• Back to Garnett: KG made 11 baskets tonight; two were put-backs after offensive rebounds. Of the remaining nine, the C’s assisted on seven, though that number could easily have been eight had the scoring crew credited Pierce with an assist on KG’s final jumper (the one that made it 91-85 with 38 seconds left). KG scored just once on any sort of isolation—a post-up jump hook.
Late in his career, Garnett has learned to move without the ball wonderfully and function as the dump-off man on screen/rolls.
• For the first time this season, it seemed like Rajon Rondo was playing with the destructive confidence he showed during the Chicago series last season. I’m thinking specifically of the last 5:39 of the 2nd quarter, when the C’s outscored the Heat 17-7 and Rondo did just about everything. He started the run with a three (his second of the season) to tie the game at 41-41, then created a put-back chance for KG by driving the lane and drawing the defense before missing a lay-in.
And then something very interesting happened on the next Boston possession. After a series of switches, Dwyane Wade was caught guarding Perk on the right block. Perk got the ball with Wade on his back and surveyed the defense. We all thought the same thing: Back Wade down and score. But there was Rondo, left uncovered at the top of the key, clapping and yelling for Perkins to pass him the ball. Rondo wanted to score. He received the ball and immediately tossed up a gorgeous tear drop.
There was no hesitation, no looking around and anticipating the help. Rondo took the ball and scored.
The next five C’s possessions went like this:
• Rondo decides against using a Perk screen to his right, drives left and lays the ball in;
• After a Miami time out, Rondo steals an inbounds pass on the sideline. Pierce eventually drives left and tosses a desperation pass out to Rondo on the right wing. Rondo jumps, catches it in mid-air and (still in the air) pump-fakes a pass to KG who is open at the top of the key to Rondo’s left. Rondo keeps the ball, drives the right side and kicks to Pierce for the open three in the near (right) corner. Pierce misses.
That pump-fake pass, though? There was some feistiness in that pass. Some healthy selfishness and aggression. This was not the Rajon Rondo looking to dump the ball at every opportunity.
• Rondo drives down the left side, draws the D under the hoop and finds KG on the right baseline for an easy 19-footer. Splash.
• Rondo finds Pierce for a lay-in on a 3-on-1 fast break;
• Rondo tries his first Eff You fast-break of the year—the borderline reckless but somehow effective 1-on-3 (or 2-on-4) transition attack that was a staple of the Chicago series. It’s 2-on-4 here, as Rondo blows by Chalmers at the foul line, veers right and elevates for a gorgeous finger roll. Only Jermaine O’neal takes the charge.
I love the aggression. The C’s are a different team when Rondo plays like this. And if you’re one of those people who don’t believe in things like “that style of play is contagious!” record this 5:39 and watch it again. Rondo lifted the spirit of the entire team. All of a sudden, KG is pounding the floor and hounding Wade all the way up the court. Everyone is pumping their fists and strutting a little. It was a tangible change.
• Fifteen turnovers doesn’t sound like a problem (the C’s average about that amount) until you remember they were playing the Heat in a very slow game. Those 15 turnovers amount to coughing the ball up on 17 percent of the C’s 87 possessions, a turnover rate that would be the worst in the league over a full season.
And these were bad turnovers. The C’s threw three outlet passes to the Heat tonight. Eddie House telegraphed a simple high-post entry pass, allowing a Heat defender to poke it away.
• The C’s also failed to block out Michael Beasley when Beasley missed a free throw, allowing him to grab the board and draw another shooting foul. The team twice fumbled away easy rebounds, losing one out of bounds and the other to James Jones when Perk and Pierce failed to heed the warning we all learned to scream out in pee-wee hoops: “SAME TEAM!”
The C’s need to clean this stuff up.
• Kudos to Perk for attacking from the opening tip and drawing five fouls on Miami’s center combination (O’Neal and Joel Anthony) by the midway point of the 1st quarter. Next step: Shooting better than 6-of-11 from the line.
• The (ultra- ultra-) high screen/roll on the left side of the floor with Rondo as the ball-handler continues to wreak havoc. The C’s used it twice tonight in the 3rd quarter, netting a hoop and a shooting foul.
• Doc continues to draw up some great plays out of timeouts. He revealed his latest gem with 2:50 to go in the 4th and the game tied at 82. It was a variation on the Pierce/Ray play that as worked so well—the one where Ray sets a screen for Pierce and then fades back behind the three-point line as Pierce dribbles in the opposite direction. A big guy usually sets a back screen for Ray, and Pierce fires a cross-court jump-pass to Ray for an open three.
This was option #1 on this play tonight (with Rondo in Pierce’s role as the ball-handler), but Wade disrupted it by staying with Allen and avoiding the back screen (set by Perk). Option #2: Rondo drives to the hoop down the left edge of the paint, where Perk’s man (Jermaine O’Neal) darts down to meet him. Perk cuts down the lane, receives the Rondo wraparound pass and dunks.
• Speaking of Ray: Just when you think he’s in a shooting slump, the guy makes a dagger three to put the C’s up 89-83 with 1:38 to go. Keep shooting, Ray.
• There may not be a team better than the C’s at putting hands on hips and working subtle little shoves on defense. KG in particular is great at it (either that, or the refs just won’t call it on him). Watch for it when it’s KG’s job to help on screen/roll penetration and he has to pick up a quick ball-handler, such as Chalmers or Wade. He’ll stay on the ball-handler’s inside hip (i.e. between the ball-handler and hoop) and give a tiny little shove as the driver goes by and prepares to jump for a lay-up. Veteran savvy or getting away with fouls? Probably depends on whether you cheer for the good guys.
• It’s Nov. 29th and I’m sick of Rasheed Wallace’s technical fouls.
That’s it from me. Brian Robb will have more later.