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Enough: C’s 95, Clips 89

 

ESPN RecapClipperBlog

Pace: 93 possessions (a tick above average)

Offensive Efficiency: 102.1 points/100 possessions (bottom third)

Defensive Efficiency: 96.7 points allowed/100 possessions (beyond league best)

Thumbnail: In a game the C’s really needed before starting their toughest four-game stretch of the season, the C’s won a tougher-than-it-should-have-been game against a Clips team who couldn’t stop Boston’s offense and had no answer for Boston’s defense

Bullets, with further analysis tomorrow morning

• This was a frustrating game in spurts because when the C’s ran their set plays, the Clippers just could not stay with them. The Celtics could get open looks whenever  they wanted, provided they a) didn’t turn the ball over; and b) stuck with their offense. Unfortunately, the C’s turned the ball over 13 times over the first three quarters and resorted to some ugly isolation ball during short stretches throughout the game. 

But when they got the Clippers defense moving with screen/rolls, pick-and-pops, flashes to the post or baseline action? The Clips had no chance. This was partly because of Boston’s solid execution and partly because the Clippers have some guys (Baron Davis, Marcus Camby) you don’t necessarily want roving around the court. 

Take the 4:22 mark of the 3rd quarter, for instance, when Ray and KG ran a pick-and-pop that ended with Ray kicking to an open KG at the top of the key. The Clips defense was compromised, and Baron Davis responded by freelancing away from Rondo taking a couple of half-hearted steps toward KG. Garnett zipped a pass to Rondo underneath, and Rajon laid the ball in. 

Or check the 8:48 mark of the 1st quarter, when Rondo and Perk ran a simple screen/roll at the top of the key. Kaman jumps out off of Perk to cut off any Rajon drive to the right while Rajon’s man (Baron Davis) latches on to Perk and monitors Rajon, who just bounces at the top of the key. Perk rolls to the basket and Baron just leaves him at the foul line. An easy drawn foul for Perk. 

Even simple give-and-go post hand-offs worked, resulting in dunks by Pierce and Rondo.

Easy looks, all night, when the C’s weren’t screwing it up. The Clips had no answers. 

• The C’s were dominant in spurts defensively, especially from the 3:30 mark of the 2nd quarter through about the 3:20 mark of the 3rd—the equivalent of one full quarter. Over that span, the Clips scored just 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting and coughed the ball up four times.

The defense played well, but the Clippers did not make themselves very tough to guard. Until Craig Smith took over the game in the 4th quarter, the Clips offense consisted (roughly) of the following things:

1) Baron Davis isolations against Rondo in the post. Davis had seven points in the 1st quarter and five points in garbage time (the last 59 seconds of the game). In the intervening 35 minutes, he scored five points on 3-of-8 shooting. The C’s began sending helpers over to Baron’s side of the court, discouraging him from driving into the paint and encouraging tougher baseline drives or fadeaways instead. It worked.

2) Transition offense. When the Clips ran, they caused major problems. They have a bunch of quick, rangy guys who attack the basket well in space (the Davises, Rasaul Butler). 

3) A helpless half court offense. The Clippers just didn’t run an effective screen/roll tonight. Their guards (including Baron) didn’t attack aggressively off the dribble even though Boston opted to go over most screens. Their bigs and wing players didn’t move well off the ball. Eric Gordon would have made a tremendous difference in this area. 

• There are fewer things more terrifying than Tony Allen on a fast break. Take that however you’d like. I’m just glad he once again chose the soft lay-in over the windmill dunk when he had an easy fast break. 

• Classic Paul Pierce game: 22 points on 10 field-goal attempts. When you’re that efficient, I can overlook the five turnovers, even the sloppy ones that were vintage Bad Pierce (dribbling into a crowd and losing the ball, arms flailing, mouth agape). 

• The Clips grabbed 11 offensive boards in 49 chances tonight (22 percent), meaning the C’s rebounded about 78 percent of LA misses—a rate that would lead the league easily. The C’s did a solid job on the defensive glass in the 2nd half after allowing seven offensive boards in the first half. Ray Allen and Rondo grabbing 11 defensive boards combined is a good sign.

• Check out those seven offensive boards, though, and you see some of the themes I wrote about today. At the 6:10 mark of the 1st quarter, Marcus Camby slid in for an uncontested ORB because his man, KG, had moved over to help Rondo on a Baron Davis post-up. When the C’s help or switch, they get themselves in major trouble on the defensive glass. This is a trait they share with 29 other teams. 

But at the 1:15 mark of the first quarter we see an offensive board that is more disturbing: Rasual Butler launches a mid-range shot and Marcus Camby, standing behind Sheed on the left side of the paint, curls to the outside around Sheed, slides to the inside position and grabs the ball for a put-back attempt. It misses, but the Clips get another rebound and find Ricky Davis for an open three. 

Watch for this: Guys are moving side-to-side around Sheed to get in good offensive rebounding position. 

• The C’s tried an all-bench line-up early in the 2nd quarter, and it got destroyed, 10-2, over a 2:49 span. Bill Walker did not help his cause for more playing time by stupidly fouling Rasual Butler on a contested three (I don’t care what Heinsohn says, Walker hit Butler’s arm) and then by failing to seal his defender (Ricky Davis) as he flashed to the post on offense, allowing Davis to steal Sheed’s entry pass. 

I’m sorry, but we have no evidence to suggest Bill Walker is ready to be an NBA player, highlight dunks in garbage time aside. 

• Remember that little list of the three types of plays that made up the bulk of LA’s offense tonight? That applies to all but the first 7:10 of the 4th quarter, when Craig Smith went into full-on Beast Mode and scored 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from the line. 

Are we ready to add the 6’7” Craig Smith to the list of “undersized” power forwards who have disproved the notion that undersized power forwards can’t succeed in the NBA? 

He scored in two ways tonight: 1) Glen Davis didn’t pay him the proper respect. Davis guarded Smith for the first stretch of the 4th quarter and moved off of him far too readily. He jumped out at Butler on a Butler/Smith screen/roll on the left side, leaving Smith an easy one-step path to the rim after Butler dumped him the ball. A few possessions later, Baby drifted away from Smith on the left side of the floor to “help” on the opposite of the floor as Kaman and Butler ran some screening action. Smith flashed to the paint, took a pass and drew a foul.

2) The C’s then removed Davis from the game and tried Perk on Smith, and Smith was far too quick for Perk. He beat Perk off the dribble along the baseline for a lay-in and a drawn foul. 

All of this occurred, by the way, as Doc kept KG on the bench for the first 6:44 of the 4th quarter. And I applaud that minutes discipline with KG. 

• Smith torching Perk is also something of an indictment of Rasheed Wallace’s lateral quickness. The C’s didn’t even try him on Smith in the 4th quarter, choosing instead to have their starting center guard a 6’7” power forward while Rasheed Wallace stuck with Kaman. 

• The T’Wolves selected Craig Smith with the 36th pick of the 2006 NBA draft. Here are some players (good and bad) selected ahead of Smith: Adam Morrison, Patrick O’Bryant, Saer Sane, Oleksiy Pecherov, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Roy, Ronnie Brewer, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Josh Boone, Maurice Ager, Paul Davis, James “Flight” White and P.J. Tucker. 

In other words: Anyone who tells they have a clue about the NBA draft is lying. 

• By my count, the Clips turned the ball over four times on overthrown no-chance 70-foot outlet passes. Yuck. 

• There seemed to be a bit of nastiness to that Baron-Rajon match-up, right? 

• A new playbook wrinkle tonight: I’ve noted before that a play the C’s really like is to have Rajon bring the ball up the left sideline while the three wing players clear out to the opposite side of the court and KG vaguely moves into position to set a screen for Rondo. Normally, Rondo accelerates along the left sideline and toward the hoop before KG even sets any sort of screen. But tonight, he waited for KG to set the screen and dribbled around it to his right, a play that freed him for a jumper from the left elbow. 

He didn’t take that shot, but it was there for him. Something to watch. 

• Eddie House needs to take ballet lessons or something to avoid these foot-on-the-line twos. All four of his shots were two-pointers between six inches and one inch away from being threes. He made two. 

• Shelden Williams is officially out of the rotation. 

• Rasheed Wallace is 1-of-4 from three-point range and is now shooting 29 percent from deep. The Clippers paid no attention to Sheed at the top of the key late in the game, giving him any three-pointer if wished to take. 

• Unusual line-up alert: We briefly saw a line-up of Pierce, Perk, TA, Sheed and Ray in the 2nd quarter. That line-up had played about 20 seconds together so far this season, according to Basketball Value. Was the eight minutes I spent looking this up a waste of time? You decide.

• Two dunks in one game from Pierce!

That’s it from me tonight. We’ll have more tomorrow. Enjoy the win. The Hell Streak begins Thursday.

  • Jason

    Two dunks in about 4 seconds. Six points to open the game. I love the efficiency, but yeah I wonder why he’s carrying just a little more of the load.

    Anyway, can’t really give the D much criticism tonight, but you are right about the offense. They really only stopped themselves, but the same ways they always do, and it’s getting old and aggravating.

    This was not the game I was expecting from them, but if anything you say the D was excellent (consider without 3 desperation 3s and the Craig Smith show, the Clips would have scored 75) and the offense was doing a lot of what it wanted, but got blocked a lot, threw it away a lot and missed some gimmes and open shots, which you just shrug and figure more of those will go down next time. Oh yeah, and the missed FTs (btw, did you notice Pierce took the tech and not Ray?).

    Anyway, this won’t get it done against the next handful of opponents guys.

  • Sam

    We killed ourselves on offense way too many times tonight. Great D. for the most part though.

  • Jason

    “why he’s *not* carrying a little more load”

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Keeping Baron outside was huge tonight. Baron took 8 jumpers from outside the paint & made 1 of them. That was terrific! Just look at his 3 pt fg%= 27%. He was 1-5 from 3. Sounds like some of our guys. That is SMART defense allowing the other guy to have the shot you want him to shoot.

    I wonder if Shelden is bad in practice? Is it just a matter of time before he is traded? Or will he be kept for injury insurance? I thought early on that Shelden was really going to contribute, but it must be bad when Bill is getting time ahead of you.

    I really don’t think the Sheed spreading the court experiment has worked. Other teams WANT him to stand out there & jack up 3s (it also takes him out of any rebounding or put back position). He will have a few games when he is better from 3, but mostly it is just costing the Cs wasted possessions. It hurts a whole lot more than it ‘helps’. 29%? Hello, Josh why can’t you get in the paint Smith.

    Perk is leading the league with 64% FG%. Do we just continue to turn our back on that? Or do we take a few less 3 pointers (4-14 28%) & get the ball down to Perk? Not to mention that Perk has a much better chance down there to draw fouls & get our much beloved 1 or 2 offensive rebounds per game.

    Wow, I saw TA get 2 of our 5 offensive rebounds tonight before Doc jerked him out of the game. He also really frustrated the Clipper getting the defensive board 1 time from getting an outlet pass which allowed Rondo to easily steal the ball & give the Cs another offensive possession. It was as good as getting an offensive board. I still think TA & Rondo play great synergistic D together. They are so quick together that it throws the opposition into a state of anarchy & confusion. Putting those 2 together is like turning on the steal factory. TA had another 2 steals & no turn overs, but Doc would not give him the time. I don’t want to hear any more whining out of Doc about the starters having to play too many minutes. It is his own fault. Look at how Doc gets some production & yanks the guy out—especially against weaker teams (remember how long Doc played the starters vs Jersey? Doc has real issues with that bench. Those starters are gonna be dragging come playoff time).

    I loved Rajon ****ALL STAR**** (only 3 turn overs tonight with 12 assists & 4 steals!!!!!) getting on the floor for that ball & KG running ALL OUT to the other end of the floor to block Baron out of bounds. Rondo was also 4-6 from the line. It was great seeing Rajon & KG do the post game interview together. Rajon smiled!!!! Finally! It was worth the whole interview! Rondo is so cool on the court, but he looks a little nervous with the press. He gave good answers, but now he needs to take it to the next level….press clowning….relax, smile, & say some funny things. People love you Rajon so smile more & have some fun with your interviews. We see you playing hard out there at both ends & we loves it!

  • David

    The next handful of games are defenetly going to be tough for this Celtics team. @ Orlando, @ Atlanta, Lakers at home on Sunday Ouch!The Atlanta game is the biggest game of the Celtics season so far. They have already lost 3 times to them. The playoff seeding and confidence factor all comes into play. The next three games will really show were this Celtic team is, as far as an elite ball club.

  • matthew

    rayray keeps on struggling. jeez. what’s wrong with his shot? it’s like there’s no follow-through at all. his consistency is crucial and the missing piece in the celts’ domination. he just looks old. pierce too, during transition. in fact the big 3 looks old. sad to say but they’re in their twilight years of superstardom. hope they have one final stretch in their legs to last till June. :o( Go Cs!

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  • tm

    I called it, Bill Walker and Giddens are not NBA material!!!

  • http://thinkshesmorelike.wordpress.com/ jylze

    “Eddie House needs to take ballet lessons or something to avoid these foot-on-the-line twos.”

    LOL. Hear Here!

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