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Evening Notebook: Benching Barnes, That Cavs Series, Those Magic Threes

 

• After a game in which Matt Barnes clearly struggled and played just about a dozen minutes, readers of Orlando Pinstriped Post are voting overwhelmingly in support of a plan to replace Barnes in the starting line-up with J.J. Redick. 

The Magic used the trio of Jameer Nelson-Redick-Vince Carter for the last few minutes of Sunday’s game, and the Celtics failed to hit a field-goal in that span. It’s a slightly smaller and less physical line-up than one that includes Barnes or Mickael Pietrus at the small forward, but we saw last season that Redick is a very, very capable defender against Ray Allen. 

• Dwight Howard took the blame at Orlando’s practice today for getting a bit carried away in trying to prove he can score against Perk, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Tania Ganguli (via OPP). He apparently told the media that they (the media) “always talk about good Perkins is” against Howard, according to Ganguli’s tweet linked above.

Meanwhile, Barnes admitted Orlando “may have been feeling ourselves too much.” 

Come on, guys.

It’s the Eastern Conference Finals. If you’re “feeling yourselves too much” and stubbornly attacking a one-on-one match-up to feed your ego, you really need to remind yourselves that it’s mid-May and not January. 

• Over at The Wages of Wins, a new author shows the Cavs and the Celtics had very even statistical profiles using a version of the site’s Wins Produced stat—provided you used only numbers from the first half the season and extrapolated from there. 

The conclusion: If you had assumed the second half of the C’s season was an inaccurate representation of the team’s ability, you would not have been surprised by the outcome of the series. Another conclusion: Mike Brown did a horrible job dividing up the minutes for Cleveland. 

• Over at NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti argues that the Magic’s nine threes in the first half were “all pretty good looks that you can expect the Magic to make.” Go check out the video and judge for yourselves. 

I will say this, though: It’s so easy to forget how slim the margin of victory is in a Game like Sunday’s. Remember Rasheed Wallace’s corner three—the one he made with the shot clock expiring and his momentum leaning out of bounds? How many times is Sheed going to make that shot out of 100 tries? Five? Two? 

He made 10 corner threes in 38 attempts all season, according to NBA.com’s hot spots data. 

Another sequence that stuck out to me as a pivotal moment: With the C’s up 52-44, Dwight Howard missed two straight free throws. You’d figure that with Orlando’s best rebounder shooting the foul shots, Boston would be a cinch to secure the rebound. But no. Matt Barnes darted around Perk and got a piece of the ball, which eventually went out of bounds off the Celtics. 

On the extra possession, Jameer Nelson missed a three-pointer. The rebound came out to the foul line, and Barnes sprinted across the court to grab it in mid-air. Another extra possession for Orlando, and you could feel a big three coming. Nope. Rashard Lewis threw the ball away, and Paul Pierce picked it up in transition. He felt Jameer Nelson make contact with him from behind and launched the ball in the direction of the basket. 

And guess what? The refs gave Pierce the charity shooting foul call, a call Rajon Rondo can’t get no matter how hard he tries (or how well he acts) in the same situation. And Pierce knocked down all three foul shots. 

What a huge swing, right? And the sort of swing you forget about when all sorts of crazy stuff happens at the end of a game. 

The lesson: The margin between these two teams is so, so slim. And also: The referees have no clue what to do when players chuck the ball toward the rim after feeling contact. To me, Pierce doesn’t deserve the shooting foul call there. He was not planning on shooting the ball, and he didn’t start his shooting motion until after Nelson made contact with him. 

But I’ll take it. You better believe I’ll take it. 

• Paul Flannery’s off-day report on WEEI’s Green Street blog contains several goodies about what to look for in Game 2. 

Here’s Doc on double-teaming Howard:

By Rivers count the Celtics double-teamed on three occasions, and they got burned each time.

“It’s instinct,” Rivers said. “We had a horrible one, where we doubled Dwight [Howard]. Dwight was five feet off the block and we went and doubled him and Jason Williams was standing by himself behind the 3. That’s just an instinct and we do allow that, but we have to be smarter against this team. They kill you when you double them. If you double team this team they’ll hurt you.”

That was Rondo’s mistake, and it was a glaring one even as it happened in real time. Rajon had a lot of ground to cover, his momentum wasn’t going the right way when he started his cut, and Howard was on the right edge of the paint (the side he least prefers). 

• The C’s are also concerned about Jameer Nelson’s effectiveness on the screen/roll, and Flannery wonders whether Boston should stop going under screens for Nelson:

The Celtics also want to figure out their pick and roll coverage. Jameer Nelson burned them in the second half when they went under the screen. He’s too good a shooter to allow him open looks.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to stop Jameer Nelson in the pick and roll,” Pierce said. “He really got hot in the second half. We’re far from being where we want to be.”

But you are up 1-0, Paul. You know what would be something? Going up 2-0. 

Game 2 begins in about 24 hours.

  • Jason

    Game 3 in 13 hours?

    You mean Game 2 in 25 hours?

  • I love Green

    How does game 3 begin in 13 hours?

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

    ha! got ahead of myself!

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

    (Also: I’m a moron. But we knew this).

  • Jason

    I like what Pruiti attempted, but he’s just wrong. Many of those looks were contested, rushed (awesome, they’re scared) or both. Yeah, they should make more than zero, but it’s not like you could expect 5 for 9 there.

    The other thing is, compare it relatively to a typical Magic game. Their typical half is 5 for 13.5 so even 3 for 9 would have been a win. The Cs reduced their quantity AND quality of 3s. As a result, 0 for 9. Of course that won’t happen every half, but once in awhile it will. Interestingly, the Magic hit their exact averages in the second half, 5 for 13.

  • I love Green

    Lets go Suns!!!

  • Rich

    Wow. Some breaking news there. Mike Brown did a horrible job at choosing the correct rotations? We fans of Cleveland are dumbfounded.

  • Jay P

    Going over on the screen and roll is dangerous. Do you live with Nelson stepping back for the shot, or do you live with the possibility of the roller being too quick for Boston’s big to recover? It’s a tough call, I think if Nelson starts shooting like he did in Game 1, you gotta take the latter, and just hope KG/Baby/Sheed will be fast enough to get back down to the block and cut off the roller if Rondo goes over the top.

  • Berkcelt

    On Redick starting, I’d be interested in seeing Ray set a high pick for Rondo and if we could force a mismatch that way.

    As far as Nelson and the pick and rolls, I thought they did a much better job after those first few jumpers he hit. It looked to me the biggest difference was the Cs bigs started to aggressively hedge out on him allowing Rondo to get back. I’m not sure if the softer look was in response to Gortat getting layups in the second quarter, wasn’t really focusing on that, but it might’ve been.

  • pilgrimtraveller

    zach, i agree that pierce should not have been given that ridiculous continuation call. on the other hand, drivers in the lane are often fouled before they are shooting, and they often are allowed to take a step before beginning their shot (after having been fouled), and they are given a continuation call. if refs it in the one case, it’s hard for them to refuse it in the other.

  • Berkcelt

    Speaking of slim margins, I wonder if Dwight would like that delay of game tech back. Still haven’t figured out where the first one was.

    Also I didn’t think all those threes were open at the time (not gonna look ‘em up) but I will say that one example used to show the Celtics had the ability to close down the middle then get back to the shooters in more than one analysis–where Pierce made a hard run at Pietrus in the corner and “contested” the shot–that one, looked more like a plain old miss. A guy jumping out from that far away and to the side doesn’t usually faze a good shooter like Pietrus.

  • I love Green

    Haha a bitter Cavs fan coming here to hate.

  • I love Green

    Lakers look scary good right now

  • EEEEE

    Im loving it!!! especially with the C;s going thru the best
    (Wade, Best player on the planet and now superman)

  • Rich

    I love Green having trouble with reading comprehension? I’m hating on Mike Brown..that shouldn’t bother you to much.

  • Jay P

    @I love Green

    Phx cant play D for crap, their bigs have no chance at stopping LA.

    The game opened up when Hill went out of the game with foul trouble, then Kobe just went off.

  • fiorelladad

    Yeah, I bet the Lakers said the same thing about us when we pummeled Cleveland and won the first in Orlando.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Can we give Ray Ray the ball down low to post up on Redick?

    We could always trap Nelson like we did Wade if he gets hot. If we can make D Wade pick up his dribble & pass surely we can make Nelson’s life miserable. Nelson & Vinny should have to feel some pain in the lane when they go for these layups. Hard fouls can be a good deterrent for some guys.

  • Jay P

    @Cptn Bubbles

    That’s an excellent point, and something I fully expect to see happen in that do play JJ on Ray more.

    Reddick is very good at chasing Ray around those screens, but he wont be able to stop Ray off the dribble or posting up.

  • Berkcelt

    Another option might be give the ball to Ray at the top and have Paul set a high screen forcing Redick to switch onto Paul. Post him up at the free throw line. I like that match-up.

  • Paolo

    I think one of the Magic’s weaknesses is losing a solid playmaker. Jameer is a very good scorer, but he’s not like Alston who is really more of a distributor, and he doesn’t have the length and vision of Turkoglu that was so crucial to last year’s Finals run.

  • rondo-is-love

    Hey, everyone. This doesn’t have much to do with this particle piece, but I saw this and I’m pretty sure this particular blog/site is legit and just wanted to know CelticsHub’s opinion(s) on this…

    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/05/17/expect-lebron-rivers-to-flow-to-chicago/

    Doc Rivers to join LeBron in Chicago??

  • Zain

    @rondo is love

    I highly doubt it. Doc has mentioned his loyalty to the Celtics repeatedly. It’ll be Boston or no one for him.

  • DRJ1

    @rondo-is-love– sounds completely ridiculous to me. A figment. Doc wants to go back to his family in Orlando. If he leaves Boston, it’ll be for that, certainly not to start a whole new coaching gig in Chicago.

  • RBD

    @DRJ1 @rondo-is-love

    Wow. That article is garbage.

    Doc Rivers is NOT going to Chicago. That’s ridiculous.

  • JP

    @I Love Green

    I know its been said, but the Suns have no length to match up with the Laker bigs. Robin Lopez is coming back from injury and Amar’e doesn’t defend well. Also, I think the Suns played a bad game overall. Dragic was pretty good in the first half though. That kid could be good.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Zach

    LOL! You LOVE to take shots at Sheed! I can’t even be mad at you, but that last two articles you wrote, you have brought up Sheed’s regular season production. I think it’s safe to say Sheed has arrived. I think it’s safe to say he will hit more than 5 of the next 100 threes he shoots from the corner. Playoffs or NOT!LOL!!!

    It’s almost like you are bracing us for a Sheed relapse. Maybe you are just bracing yourself though. Root for the guy Zach, he plays for your team!

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

    @What?

    I don’t think it’s taking a shot at Sheed. I just think he’s not a good shooter from the corner. Top of the arc is the closest thing he’s got to a sweet spot from three.

  • TangRen

    That lineup that halted the Boston offense doesn’t seem dangerous at all. I’d take that over their normal lineup any day. Reddick over Barnes is even better since I think Ray Ray will just burn the guy in drives to the paint.

    I think that it was Boston’s errors in the last 5 minutes rather than Orlando prowess for that scoreless streak.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Zach

    You are probably right. But 5 out of 100? 2 out of 100????

    LOL!!!!!! Anybody shooting 2% from the arc doesn’t need to shoot outside of 2 feet. Plain and simple.

  • Jay P

    @TangRen

    You make a good point, I think Reddick does a better job chasing Ray around screens that Barnes (injury maybe?) so they like that part of the match up.

    However, that provides it’s own set of problems as you and Berkcelt mentioned, as Reddick may have problems stopping Ray off the dribble, and they can also use Ray/Paul in a high screen to get JJ switched over to Pierce and post up. JJ has 0 chance to stop Paul in that spot, literally 0.

    I’d also agree with you that I think the Celtics 4th quarter offensive struggles had more to do with what they weren’t doing, than what the Magic were doing. Doc mentioned it in his interviews today, when they looked at the tapes, they saw no ball movement, and a lot of guys pressing the issue individually (looking at it as “if I get one more basket, we win”) to try and close out. This is the crutch the Celtics offense, and something we’ve seen too many times this year.

    So anyway, JJ isn’t an end-all solution, but he seems a better option than Barnes right now, albeit still not a great one.

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

    I meant 2 out of 100 corner threes at the end of the shot clock while falling out of bounds.

  • mitch

    Ray was fiesty in game 1, we need more of that

  • Chris O

    Zach Lowe says:
    May 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm
    I meant 2 out of 100 corner threes at the end of the shot clock while falling out of bounds.
    ____________
    C’mon Zach up it to at least 7 to sound reasonable…

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