Warning: The following video clips are scarier and more horrifying than “Shutter Island,” which disappointed me beyond belief. Children under 17 should not view these missed assignments and lazy passes without an adult present. The clips may cause nausea or even depression. You may begin to feel a sudden interest in baseball spring training.
Let’s go in chronological order, starting with Boston’s second possession of the game:
For all the progress Kendrick Perkins has made, he often adds needless complications to what should be easy buckets.
Perk’s patience sometimes pays off. He’s not a quick or dynamic player, so when he catches the ball on the move, it can be useful for him to pause and gather himself instead of going right up for what would be a slightly out-of-control attempt.
But there are other times when he pump fakes and extra-steps himself out of easy baskets for no good reason. This is one of those times.
Fast forward the tape to the 8:23 mark of the 1st quarter. The C’s are up 12-2, and we’re all anticipating a nice, easy Saturday afternoon win to wash away the taste of the Cleveland loss. And then:
Rajon Rondo has gotten a pass for the team’s turnover problems. I do not understand why.
Rajon Rondo turns the ball over a lot. There are 94 guards in the NBA who have played at least 1000 minutes so far this season; of those, only six have turned the ball more often—per possession—than Rajon Rondo, according to Basketball Reference.
Understand: This isn’t a crisis. Rajon Rondo isn’t George McGinnis, leading the league in turnovers as a forward-center. He’s a point guard with a lot of responsibility, and he has to take chances to generate opportunities for his less athletic teammates. And two of the six guards who turn the ball over more often than Rondo are Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. Again: Not a crisis.
But that whole “he’s a point guard with a ton of responsibility” line? That applies to Chris Paul, too. And Chris Paul (or Tony Parker, or Baron Davis, or a number of other guys) only turns the ball over on about 13 percent of possessions on which he tries to do something with it. Rondo is at about 18.5 percent.
And you know how you get from 18 percent down to 13 percent? By cutting out the kind of lazy, careless pass you see in that clip. I mean, that play doesn’t need any further analysis, right? It’s just an awful play.
And I’ll bet if you watched all 164 turnovers Rondo has committed this season, you’d see that Rondo could have avoided at least 40-50 of them just by exercising an ounce of care for the ball. You wouldn’t see too many turnovers as bad as the one above, but you’d see a lot of Rondo trying to thread impossible passes into the paint through traffic—low percentage gambles taken when an easy basketball play would have done just fine.
Can you stomach more? Then try this clip, from the 4:09 mark of the 1st quarter. We’re going with some Tarantino-like gratuitousness here by going slow-mo, so that you gain a proper appreciation of the C’s transition defense against the speedy Brook Lopez:
If you read this site, you know I try to stay away from calling players lazy or saying one player “out-worked” another one. Basketball is usually too complicated to distill down to such trite analysis. But here? Brook Lopez just out-works the Celtics.
I have no clue what Rasheed Wallace is thinking on this play. He starts out a body length ahead of Brook Lopez but appears to watch passively as Lopez, sensing an opportunity, changes gears at midcourt and sprints through the small gap between Sheed and Marquis Daniels. Sheed does not respond with any urgent acceleration. He keeps the same pace, allowing Lopez to blow by him for the alley-oop.
It’s possible that Sheed thinks KG, on the left wing, is going to slide into the paint and bail him out. KG’s man (Yi) is off the screen behind the play, and KG is serving as a second defender on the ball while waiting for Yi to make his way up the court.
To me, though, this is on Sheed. But either way, it’s pathetic, especially for the Celtics. You don’t often see this team blow it this egregiously on defense.
One more? OK. Let’s check out the 6:30 mark of the 3rd quarter, when the Celtics allow a 6’5” shooting guard to streak in uncontested for an offensive rebound:
As is usually the case, the events that lead to this offensive rebound start well before Yi launches a brick-tastic three-pointer. Harris and Yi run a pick-and-pop on the right side of the floor, with Harris dribbling to his right around a Yi screen. Perk initially plays this nicely by sliding to his left to cut off Devin’s penetration so that Rondo (chasing over the screen) can recover.
It’s what happens next that is troubling. Instead of rolling to the hoop, Yi fades out to the top of the three-point arc. Perk makes absolutely no effort to switch back and find Yi. And, in fairness, he has a long way to go to get there.
The responsibility for closing out on Yi could also go to KG, who is guarding Lopez at the foul line and has a much shorter path to Yi. Ray Allen seems to anticipate KG having to help in some way, because as soon as Harris turns the corner on the screen/roll, Ray leaves Lee on the left wing and moves toward Lopez.
But KG is totally flat-footed when Harris passes to Yi. Allen realizes KG is not going to make it and leaves both Lopez and Lee to close out on the Chairman.
This leaves Lee alone on the left side to pursue the rebound.
But guess what? Perk is ambling in alone on the right side, and the rebound actually comes right to him. If you watch the clip carefully, you see that Perk isn’t exactly getting into the paint with vigor or speed. He’s jogging/strolling, and his lack of urgency costs him ideal rebounding position; instead of getting into the center of the paint, he reaches only the right side by the time the ball hits the rim.
The basketball gods nonetheless spare him their wrath by sending the ball his way. Alas, Perk fails to grasp it.
And the Celtics fail to grasp a win against the league’s worst team.
Happy Saturday night!