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Video: How to Lose to a Five-Win Team

 

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!

  • Scott

    Have i mentioned lately.. how much i think rasheed wallace is an absolute waste. he is a lazy player who coasts, and thats crap for a professional. He got straight up out hustled by brook lopez, and thats pathetic.

  • zeus

    I just hope that everyone realises that Rondo and Perkins will not ever form the core of a championship team. Rondo is good (not great…) but with significant attitude issues and shooting issues. he can lead a team to a playoffs but not to a championship.. Perkins is average… a starter but not a big time player..Two of the next big three. .. please.. that wd be letting the Green get back to the doldrums for another decade.. two good pieces though.. core would have to be found somewhere else..

  • zeus

    agree that Sheed and Baby doesnt cut it for controlling the paint for the second unit.. Sheed doesnt want to ,,, Baby cant…

  • RAY

    Can some please tell me who is coaching this team. If any player can not do what the coaches want they should not be on the floor. If the guys are playing this bad why does doc continue to play them, they should be on the bench. I do not understand why the celtic only play outside basketball, thet do not play inside at all. Wallace does not need to be shooting threes, he needs to be on the block,KG on the block, we need an inside game. when the celtic play inside on the block, up tempo an attacking the rim they can not be beat.

  • hallik

    The Lopez play was f_ng awful. Sheed should have stopped him. But ray should have put a flagrant 1 on his a$$! Again it’s been said no sense of urgency… but now its about pride and heart at this point. Disgusting.

  • jordan

    these slo-mo’s are HORRIFYING

  • DRJ1

    In fairness to Perk, in that first 3-sec violation, he does step out of the zone, but his foot is still on the line… tho I doubt the ref saw it… seems like the ref missed the whole stepping out thing altogether. Still… that one is understandable… foot on the line. The rest is disgusting.

  • NickFaldo

    Zach, I know you meant well, but you made some mistakes yourself. In the first one, it was a three second violation not a travel. The second clip, Rondo was a bit sloppy, but the defensive player made a good read, and Marquis didn’t exactly seem to be hustling for the pass or making it easy for Rajon. The third one, Sheed got beat, but Marquis kind of got in the way, almost drifting a bit like in the previous one, and Ray Allen was completely useless watching Sheed’s back. Marquis and Ray were the ones who should have helped out Sheed, not KG. The final one, Perk probably should have got the rebound like you said. However, there was a moving pick violation by the Nets even before the three was attempted. Then that was simply a phenomenal play by the guard to even be able to get a hand on the rebound. I’m just saying if you’re going to critique the Celtics like this, you might want to do a better job yourself. Nothing personal.

  • Adrian

    this is embarrassing i dont know if its the team chemistry or what but were playing like a rookie team with no system in place were just running out there hoping for things to happen. We dont play up tempo ball becuase we dont have the legs. Rondo cant shoot and gets scared in the 2nd half he doesnt take over, his 1 on1 defense is terrible, and he gives up the ball too much. Perkins has no offense what so ever, unless rondo gives him the ball right under the basket. KG is getting old those jumpshots arent there anymore, although this was one of his best games offensively in a while anyway. Allens not the problem although like evry shooter he has off days. Sheed thinks he should’ve been in the 3-point contest.I dont know what is is but in the 3rd and 4th it always seems like were a man or 2 down. we barely run plays just give the ball to rondo see what he can do and when we do run plays they’re all jumpshots.
    I dont know what it is but teams dont fear us anymore, after this loss i think they’re gonna wanna play us. i dont know how to fix the problem but it better happen fast becuase im not ready for a 1st round knockout

  • Adrian

    i also notice other than pierce we do get to the line as often i rarely see us shooting free throws. celtics need to slow the game down b’cuz clearly we cant compete with teams who score 100pts/game

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @NickFaldo: I know the Perk play is a three-second violation. I titled the clip “Perk Walk” because I like the play on words with “Perp Walk.”

    The other stuff, I stand by my initial takes.

  • Sam

    I think your meta analysis of Rondo’s turnover problems is flawed. Guards that shoot a lot (Parker, Paul, Davis) often have much lower turnover %s even though they are just as if not more mistake prone in the PG role.

    That’s because it’s almost impossible to turn the ball over on spot-up and pull-up jumpers.

    Rondo could improve his turnover % just by increasing his shot attempts without showing any improvement in decision making.

    Just look at Eddie House. He had the best TO% on the team, even though his A:TO ratio was very average.

    Or look at Russell Westbrook. Despite averaging 3.3 turnovers for every 5.3 assists in his rookie season (in only 32 minutes), his turnover % was better than Rondo’s this year (averaging 10 assists, 2.9 turnovers in 37 minutes) because he jacked more jump shots as a sub 40% shooter.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Sam: That’s a good point about jumpers cutting down on TOs–you’re right that Rajon has to dribble around in smaller spaces more often before making passes than some of those other guys.

    But what about Nash? He’s one of the league’s great jump-shooters and still has a high TO rate. Or Jason Kidd–who has developed a 40 percent-plus three-point shot and still leads the league in TO%?

    It’s an interesting question. Nash, despite being a great shooter, still uses some of the same dribble-drive patterns Rondo does.

    In any case, I do believe Rondo goes for too many high-risk interior passes, often to KG. But your point is a good one.

  • Sam

    Nash and Kidd just don’t take as many shots as their peers. They pass far more than the likes of Tony Parker and Baron Davis. Any pass is far more likely to result in a turnover than a shot. Doesn’t mean a shot is a better decision.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    You’re generally right there. Nash is usually around 11-12 shots per game (12.7 this season), and Parker last season (when he was healthy and gunning) jacked 17.5 per game.

    But Parker’s down to 13.2 this season and the Baron to 13.6, so their shot attempts are approaching Nash/Rondo levels and their TOs aren’t. That said, I don’t think Baron/Park attempt the same sort of high risk/high reward interior passes as Rondo/Nash do. Parker’s game is much more drive and either shoot or kick to a spot up guy. Easier passes. Rondo has more of a burden, because the C’s no longer have an interior scorer on Duncan’s level (or, talking in only low-post scoring terms, Kaman’s level) or a second passer on Manu’s level.

  • Sam

    Parker and Davis are both around 3 TOs per 36, a bit more than Rondo in fact. If they’re not playing the same high risk style as Rondo they certainly are screwing up on the low-risk passes.

    It’s the volume of low-risk shooting that separates their TO%s, not the passing.

    As for Nash, I would agree that his high-risk passing is costing him. He’s averaged about 4 TOs per 36, well above his peers.

  • NickFaldo

    Zach, you say you knew Perk didn’t walk, but you also wrote, “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. ” I’m not trying to make you look bad, but you seem to be compounding your error. I took a good bit of rereading to see if you missed the play, or if the announcer missed it as having been a three second violation. Again, nothing personal.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Nick: Does he not pump fake himself into a three-second violation here—whether it’s rightly or wrongly called? (And I believe it is the wrong call). But he sometimes–sometimes–allows defenders to close space by hesitating.

  • DRJ1

    @Zach: I was sure it was a wrong 3-sec call on Perk when it happened. But in watching it again here, I see that Perk’s foot is on the line when he steps back. If he never left the zone, it was way more than 3 seconds before they blew the whistle. (But I still say the ref didn’t see his foot on the line, didn’t see him move back at all. But that doesn’t matter, because it turned out that the call was in fact correct.)

  • aka

    But he sometimes–sometimes–allows defenders to close space by hesitating? Try 5-6 times a night. I know you’re being humble for Nick’s sake but Nick…how is that not Perkin’s M.O.?

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