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The C’s Need a Better Match(up) Maker

 

Win against the Clippers? Check.

Alright now this to-do list gets tricky.

The Celtics are about to face their toughest five game stretch of the season book-ended by two of the lesser teams in the league, the Clippers and Wizards.  One can only hope the C’s don’t come away with only two wins.  Not only are these games important for overall standing, but also for “standing up.”  The Celtics will need a lot of “standing up” from some likely and unlikely sources if they are going to have chances against Orlando, Atlanta, and the Lakers.

Kevin Garnett needs to prove that the hobbling he does on the court is more getting his legs back under him (pun intended) than it is about residual pain from the hyper-extended knee.  The Celtics bench needs to step up and dispel the notion that they have a match up problem.

The problem with that is, they do.

The Celtics’ match up problem is exemplified by last night’s offensive flourish from Craig Smith.  Casual NBA fans see a line from Craig Smith that reads:

Craig Smith, PF 22 3-6 0-0 7-10 2 3 5 1 0 0 0 4 0 13

and think, “who the hell is Craig Smith?”  If you, being the astute NBA fan you are, turn to them and say, “he’s the bulky 6’7″ guy who keeps punking Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins,”  you’d be right.

Craig Smith continuously had his way with both Big Baby (I don’t care what you want, I’m not calling you Uno Uno) and Kendrick Perkins.  While I like Smith as a player, this is not a testament to an offensive juggernaut waiting to emerge.  This is a game that typifies a problem the C’s have had all season.

The following is information that should not exist, but does:

October 30, 2009 against Chicago

Joakim Noah, C 28 7-10 0-0 2-2 6 4 10 4 0 2 2 2 -33 16
Jannero Pargo, PG 22 6-12 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 -6 13

November 14, 2009 against Indiana

Dahntay Jones, SG 33 7-15 0-1 11-15 0 4 4 4 0 1 3 4 +8 25

November 25, 2009 against Philadelphia

Willie Green, SG 14 5-7 2-2 6-6 0 1 1 4 0 0 1 2 +4 18
Jason Kapono, SF 29 8-11 4-6 0-2 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 +2 20

November 27, 2009 against Toronto

Jarrett Jack, PG 33 5-8 0-1 8-8 0 1 1 5 2 0 2 3 -3 18

December 1, 2009 against Charlotte

Nazr Mohammed, C 19 6-10 0-0 4-8 3 2 5 0 1 0 1 0 -4 16

December 3, 2009 against San Antonio

DeJuan Blair, F 22 9-11 0-0 0-1 5 6 11 0 0 2 1 2 +10 18

December 8, 2009 against Milwaukee

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 43 6-17 2-6 5-6 3 5 8 1 3 0 1 2 -13 19

December 10, 2009 against Washington

Andray Blatche, PF 26 7-10 1-2 2-2 1 2 3 3 5 0 1 4 -4 17

December 12, 2009 against Chicago

Taj Gibson, F 34 3-9 0-0 6-7 3 8 11 1 2 2 1 4 -19 12

December 18, 2009 against Philadelphia

Willie Green, SG 45 6-13 1-4 3-3 1 3 4 4 2 1 3 3 +2 16

December 22, 2009 against Indiana

Earl Watson, PG 36 6-13 3-7 3-4 1 6 7 6 1 0 5 3 -4 18

December 30, 2009 against Phoenix

Leandro Barbosa, SG 23 5-13 1-5 6-7 0 2 2 4 4 0 1 2 0 1

January 6, 2010 against Miami

Udonis Haslem, PF 38 7-13 0-0 5-6 4 5 9 1 1 1 2 2 0 19

January 18, 2010 against Dallas

Erick Dampier, C 22 5-6 0-0 1-2 1 6 7 0 0 2 4 2 +15 11

January 22, 2010 against Portland

Andre Miller, PG 47 11-23 0-2 6-6 4 4 8 8 2 0 6 1 +2 28

The NBA does not exist in a vacuum, thus there are a plethora of reasons for why the aforementioned players had such offensive outbursts against the Celtics.  The being said, a few conclusions can be drawn just looking at the numbers, which I will attempt to explain…..now:

No Respect!

Have you seen Rodney Dangerfield’s ghost on the court this season during Celtics games? Cause I have. Zach put it best in his bulleted recap when he wrote, “Glen Davis didn’t pay him the proper respect”referring to the defense played on Craig Smith.  This seems to be a pretty common theme and one that bears out little blame on the C’s.  There are a lot of good players in this league and on every team.  I’m sure if the C’s had their druthers, they’d rather give Jason Kapono the chance to put up a twenty spot on them rather than Andre Iguodala. 

On the flipside, twenty from Kapono?  The strategy of letting the lesser guy beat you isn’t suppose to result Kapono getting 20 points!

The bottom line is that there are certain players in certain situations the Celtics have to respect more than others.  Take Smith last night.  If he’s continuously beating you off the dribble, into the paint, and making his patented fall-away-baby-hook, than you need to revise your game plan.  You have to put a quicker guy on him to keep him out of the lane, you have to box him out on the glass, and you have to have a guard help down to contest the fall-away from behind.  When Smith takes a fall-away baby hook, the ball is right at eye level for Paul Pierce.  All that being said, Smith has had a solid career in the NBA for a reason- that being the fact that despite his physical limitations, he has found ways to contribute.  If it were as easy as I described to defend Smith, than he would be out of the league.  All I’m am suggesting is a defensive scheme or assignment revision is warranted.

The same “no respect” argument can be made for the Udonis Haslem stats listed above.  If you remember back to January 6th, Haslem was continuously wide open on the baseline and completely torched the C’s with his midrange jumper- all while Rasheed Wallace chirped in his ear.  ‘Sheed chirps at everyone, sure, but usually not when it’s blatantly obvious that a player is exposing ‘Sheed’s inability (lack of desire?) to close out shooters.

Hustle and Flow

Ahh, the mobile power forward rears its ugly head all over this list.  Andray Blatche, Ersan Illyasova and the energy guys like Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nazr Muhammed all exposed the lack of lateral quickness on the Celtics front line. 

Perkins is a methodical bruiser who gets his blocks with great anticipation and discipline.  If he doesn’t have time to anticipate, he’s going to get out hustled by guys like Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Nazr Muhammed.  Perkins also has a respect issue.  Against bigger guys, Perkins gets in great position and really fights tooth and nail for rebounds.  Against guys like Joakim Noah, he has this ”are you serious?” attitude.  This ‘tude results in both Noah scooting around him for boards and me screaming at my TV.  Whether he really disrespects Noah that much or it is just a defense mechanism (pun intended), Perkins cannot match Noah’s lateral quickness.

I don’t really want to go too far into it, because it’s so painful, but Rasheed Wallace defends guys like the old annoying guy at the gym.  He chirps, he stands straight up and flat-footed, he reaches, fouls, and annoys the hell out of you.  That can take a person completely out of it in a pickup game, but in the NBA it just puts guys on the line and checks on David Stern’s desk.

Erik Dampier is Unguardable!!

No comment…

Non-offensive Guys Offending the C’s

I can’t imagine being a professional basketball player and knowing the league and its players inside and out so well that you can be sure on a nightly basis who is going to kill you offensively, and who is going to be out there for their defense and IQ.  I also can’t imagine what it’s like when that gets flipped on its head and you get beat by the likes of Andre Miller, Dahntay Jones, Earl Watson, and Willie Green twice (ouch!).

When watching games against Portland, Indiana, and Philadelphia I’m willing to bet I’m in the majority when I see a questionable shot present itself for these guys and I’m saying under breath, “ohhh take that shot!”  Doesn’t it hurt so much worse when it continually goes in?  I spoke with Brian Robb earlier about this concept and he brought up an interesting point.  A lot of guys who get the rim against the Celtics not only get there with relative ease, but also finish at a high percentage.  This makes complete sense when you consider Andre Miller shoots from outside about as well as Marquis Daniels.  In terms of Willie Green, he is like DeShawn Stevenson in the way that I picture him getting his game check in the mail and thinking, “Yesss, I fooled them again! Hot dog!”  I don’t know why either of those guys are in the league, and someday soon I’ll send a little email over to Philadunkia and see if he can explain it to me.

Jarret Jack, Jannero Pargo, and Leandro Barbosa?

Yeah these are just good players and I’m not really sure why I put them on the list.  I think it’s because they are still both their respective teams 6th or 7th option and it always hurts to get burned by guy waving the towel.

 

Closing Arguments

The best Celtics fans can hope for is that KG being back and getting up to full strength will solve all these twilight zone-esque scenarios.  It’s pretty clear Joakim Noah is not getting to the basket as easily with KG patrolling the paint. 

Kevin Garnett brings the defensive intensity but also takes the pressure off Perkins to do what he’s incapable of doing: moving laterally.  Garnett guards the guys who move, Perkins guards the guys who try to move you.  It’s a brilliant combination, but whether it solves all of the Celtics’ woes remains to be seen.

The best any of us can do is sit back, watch and (try to) enjoy the show.

  • tm

    What about Petrolov from T-wolves. Fatdy Collins, these guys seem to burn us every game. The french dude in Orlando. Channing Frye.

    These jokers always find a way to do well against the Cs even though they aren’t really that good.

  • Brendan Jackson

    ahh I had Peterov in my notes I must not have copy and pasted correctly. Yeah, he’s a big man who can shoot foul line extended and who the C’s big men do not respect- so there it is right there.

    Mardy Collins always looks like he destroys the C’s but his end game numbers aren’t actually that impressive. Pietrus abd Frye (this year) are too good to surprise me.

  • dranen645

    i feel like undersized big men constantly hurt us like smith and dejaun blair from the spurs… when we finally see leon powe he might really kill us.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    perk = elton brand. he’ll never be able to cover energy bigs. he needs someone like kg out there with him.

    on the perimeter the guys are just getting outhustled. ray and paul can’t go 110% every night on the D end anymore. and i think rondo has been spending too much time with sheed or getting too much paise for his steal #s….he seems to reach more and more all the time. i would gladly see his picks drop off if he would just stay in front of his guy more.

  • Rocci

    I feel like random players breaking out happens against every team, not just us.

    I don’t have the time to actually prove my point, but I’ll bet its true.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    note: maggette nor monta would help this area much. iguodala is the utlimate matchup guy.

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    @Rocci: Totally agree, though the point Brendan raises about mobile bigs is really true. It was tough to watch Smith run circles around the team last night.

  • Brendan Jackson

    Right on Rocci and Zach,
    I just found it interesting how prevalent it seemed to be this season.

  • Jay P

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… where’s the coaching?

    Although we gotta bring good ole Tom in one this one too, he’s suppose to be the defensive genius.

    I’m not chastising their “let the no names beat us” philosophy, you scheme to stop the stars, but when these no names start in fact, beating you, it might be time to call a timeout and re-think your defensive strategies.

    They seem to be taking a stance of “well, their not that good, it wont last” then the next thing you know, second-tier players are throwing up 20-10 games on us. I’m not saying treat the likes of Andre Miller as if he was Lebron, but when this guys been killing you all game, and the fourth quarter comes, it might be time to re-think the philosophy a bit.

  • Jay P

    “Garnett guards the guys who move, Perkins guards the guys who try to move you.”

    I love this line, just needed to mentioned that.

  • tm

    KG is also built like a noodle, he will usually back off and try to block it after

  • al

    do you trade TA and Scal for a versatile defender like Jared Jefferies? His stats aren’t that hot, but he’s a very good defender and if the Knicks are desperate they might throw in Jordan Hill, you have to make that deal…

  • tm

    I don’t think the Cs can trade TA given how fragile Daniels is. It is not a terrible idea. I think someone like Stefalosha would be wonderful for the Cs

    They are not going to give away Hill on a trade for Jefferies, Curry maybe :)

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