A lack of defense, unfavorable officiating, and a dominant offensive performance by Lebron James. There were plenty of reasons to account for the C’s biggest home loss in playoff history Friday night. However, despite these issues, there was one key element that has been ignored in the C’s game 3 stinker: the slow offensive start.
I went back and broke down the lackluster early effort from Friday night, breaking down few key numbers from the first quarter, in which Boston was outscored by Cleveland 36-17, (and by Lebron 21-17)
* C’s shot 6 of 22 from the field
* 15 of those 22 shot attempts were from outside 10 feet.
If you got the impression the C’s got a little too jumper happy early, the numbers would back up that assessment. Usually, the C’s average taking 54% of their shots from outside 10 feet, but early on Friday, they fired up 68 percent of their shots from the perimeter. C’s also fell into a similar trap during the 2nd half of Game 1
In Game 3, a lot of these were open looks, so the C’s weren’t completely settling, but it certainly kept them from attacking early on.
The bigger issue though, for me, was the guy taking all of these outside jumpers to start, exactly the person you wouldn’t want to be firing away from deep early on, one Rajon Rondo. Let’s take a look outside his 1st quarter stats:
* 3 of 9 from the field(Averages 11.2 shots/game)
* 6 of Rondo’s shot attempts came from outside 10 feet.
* Rondo went 1 of 6 from that range. (Averages 4.2 FGA/game from 10+ feet)
It can’t be overstated just how crucial those attempts were to the C’s offensive woes and a lot of credit has to go to Cleveland. Not only did Cleveland turn Rondo into the team’s primary offensive option, but they did it by letting Rondo into the trap of settling for outside jump shots. Rondo averages just a little over 4 shots from that range every game, so for him to take six in the 1st quarter is exactly what the doctor ordered for Cleveland.
The combination of this outside shooting along with Anthony Parker’s full court pressure all game on Rondo did well to throw Boston out of rhythm early on and by the time the C’s recovered, they had already spotted Lebron and company a 20 point lead.
Today, look for a renewed effort for Rondo to get to the hoop early on and go down to Kevin Garnett in the post, where they’ve had great success all series long in that matchup with Antwan Jamison. The C’s are going to need help from anyone in order to tie this one up obviously, but they can’t afford any more offensive quarter meltdowns if they want to tie up Cleveland today.
Let’s hope they get back to basics and finally get some home cooking in what likely will be the NBA’s only competitive series in the quarterfinals.