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The Power of Perk: With Video!

 

Kendrick Perkins played about as bad a game on offense Sunday as someone can play. He was 2-of-6 from the floor and committed five turnovers, more than all but one other player who took the floor. It goes without saying that’s it’s unacceptable for your fifth option on offense to commit five turnovers.

But then there’s this, via ESPN’s Stats and Information crew:


Let’s review that chart: The Magic cleared out for Dwight Howard in the post more often Sunday than they did on average in their sweeps of Atlanta and Charlotte.

And as you can see, it didn’t work out, even when you factor in Howard’s pile of foul shots.

What you can’t see from this chart: Howard’s stats were even worse when Kendrick Perkins was in the game.

Here’s another nugget from the ESPN stats geniuses:

Kendrick Perkins won the battle of the centers on Sunday as he held Dwight Howard to just two points on 1-7 shooting. Although Howard played 13 more minutes than Perkins, Howard went just 2-3 with four points when Perkins was out of the game.

That’s right: Howard was 1-of-7 when Perk was in the game. The focus will be on the fact that Perk is strong enough to play Howard without help. Howard can’t back Perk down under the rim or move Perk wherever he wants. We knew that already, but it was refreshing to see Perk pull it off again despite his sore knee.

Something else Perk did Sunday was just as important:  He did not go for any of Howard’s pump fakes. This is crucial. If Perk bites on the fakes by jumping or even going totally vertical, he loses his leverage and his balance. Howard can maneuver around him for a basket or jump into him to draw a foul and still get a decent look. The only time Shaq made any headway against Perkins in the conference semis was when he fooled Perk with a pump fake.

Perk played disciplined defense on Sunday. Of his five fouls, only two came defending Howard.

Also note that Howard only went 2-of-3 during the 13 minutes he played with Perk on the bench. The low number of attempts shows that Sheed and Davis held things together—by a thread, but still—during those 13 minutes Perk sat.

But don’t be fooled into thinking they are as effective as Perkins is against Howard. Big Baby and Sheed committed four fouls on Howard post-ups in those 13 minutes compared to the two fouls Perk committed against Howard in 26 minutes. In short: Sheed and Baby have to hack more to stop Howard. They also have to rely on some gimmicks; we saw Sheed pull out the chair, for instance, forcing Howard into a traveling violation. (That’s the sequence that led to a technical foul, and I’d point out that Howard led the league in technicals this season, but Stan Van Gundy might accuse me of being part of the vast media conspiracy to be mean to poor Dwightie).

The Celtics probably need Perk to play more than 26 minutes per game in this series. He must cut the silly fouls (his no-chance over-the-backs drive me nuts) and the illegal screens, though in fairness to Perk, I’m not sure anyone actually knows what an illegal screen is anymore.

Perk was so good that Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post is recommending a strategy change for Game 2:

I do think we have to call the Magic’s strategy into question here. Over the last 3 seasons, the Celtics have very well established that they can shut Howard down one-on-one; posting him up isn’t a sound idea, yet Orlando kept pounding the ball inside to him. Going forward, the Magic have to get Howard involved as a pick-and-roll finisher, and he can help himself by creating opportunities on the offensive glass. Expecting him to score consistently and efficiently against Boston’s bigs isn’t realistic. It simply baffled me to watch the Magic consistently clear out for Howard.

The Celtics will be ready for this. When the Magic ran screen/rolls involving Howard, the C’s generally defended them well.

They’ll have to continue defending them well in Game 2.

Update: The great Kevin Arnovitz and David Thorpe break down D-12′s struggles:

  • urbeltic

    1. I love KP. He plays his role well, and that is all you can ask. And as everyone knows his role is HUGE in this series.
    2. I’m not so worried about a screen/roll with Howard. I think screen/rolls work best with bigs that can shoot, and Howard just isn’t there. Plus, he is prone to get offensive fouls if he starts cutting to the basket.
    3. The ONLY thing I’m worried about is the 3 ball…when Orlando starts hitting it is going to get very very nasty out there and seriously test the C’s D. Even with the C’s playing Howard 1 on 1 in game one, Orlando had plenty of good 3 shots.

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    @urbeltic: that screen/roll can lead to the corner three, though.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Zach.

    True. But did you see how well the C’s closed out on the three point shot throughout the game? I love the way Boston is rotating in their defensive sets right now. The Game 2 strategy for Orlando will change though and the Pick and Roll between Jameer and Dwight will be more prominent. But another Orlando weakness that is becoming more glaring is that Orlando does not move the ball. I am convinced that is why Rashard Lewis’ numbers are down…he isn’t the recipient of passes nearly as much as he was last year. Nelson falls in the Mo Williams mold of a shoot first point guard and w/o another passing presence on the wing, this is gonna kill Orlando.

    That’s why JJ Redick is a good look for Orlando…he gives the rock up and makes good decisions with it.

  • What More Can I Say?

    Perk ‘s D was phenomenal. His O was awful. I do expect him to play better on O next game. But if it doesn’t improve next game…bring on Sheed. That battle is not only entertaining…I love his outside shoopting in this series. Orlando tries to hide Dwight by making him guard KG. KG has got to go at Dwight. I thought he was tentative on offense and got real jump-pass happy. Go at swat happy Dwight and draw some fouls on him. Even when he Dwight struggles on O, his presence on D is UNDENIABLE.

    Anybody see when Dwight snuffed out a Ray Allen dunk/layup in the 2nd half and Ray crumpled to the floor?!?!? That was sick. That’s what I don’t wanna see too much of.

  • Perry

    What does Howard do in his spare time other than bench press? How’s about a drop step? Maybe he should seek out McHale instead of an acting school.

    Celts have the personnel to thrive against post-ups – especially with Howard who can’t shoot facing the basket. Collectively, Orlando’s shooters have problems operating mid range sets. If DH isn’t getting loose and his counterparts are not draining three’s how do the Magic run their sets?

    Except for that stretch in the fourth quarter the help defense was pretty good shutting down their driving lanes. That’s where SVG’s adjustment may come. The problem is Orlando doesn’t have the play makers to make that extra pass in the paint. They also have a tendency to stand around the three point line rather than take three’s in rhythm (5-22 TPM – A ). Does J. Wil play more minutes? Nelson is not a facilitator. He looks for his shot first. Only 10 team assists last night…very undisciplined.

    Just a few observations:

    1- Rondo controlled tempo, but overall I thought Nelson out played him when it mattered. Rondo forgot about Nelson briefly in the third quarter, and it resulted in 8 quick points in less than 2 minutes. During the Magic’s fourth quarter run. Rondo committed two costly t/o’s, which hardly took anytime off the clock.

    2- Offensively, Kevin and Rondo were not at their best and the Celts still won.

    3- Pierce must feel like the shackles are off. He’s always been able to get off his shots on Carter. Only 8 attempts and he still managed 22 points. When he boards (9 total) this team doesn’t lose.

    4- The Magic are playing with fools gold if they point to the fourth quarter as a wake up call. Celts let their guard down defensively. In between that run where Rondo got careless, Perk missed two free throws and Kevin couldn’t knock down a 15 footer. Doc will use that sloppy sequence as motivation going into tomorrow night’s game.

  • Jay P

    I fully expect Game 2 to be completely different, for both teams.

    It’s obvious Orlando came out and tried to play Boston like they’ve played everyone else in the past, pound the ball to Howard, get shooters open. Problem with that is Boston won’t double team, they’ll live with Howard beating them in the post, they won’t live with Orlando’s shooters getting open looks from 3 if they double.

    PP doubled him once, when Howard got the ball in the 4th on the left shoulder, I think it was more situation then strategy, he thought he had a chance to fence him in (similar to a few times they trapped Lebron) but underestimate his length, and was unable to cut off the pass to Nelson for 3. I didn’t see them try it again, and I highly doubt that was anything planned, Paul just saw an opportunity and misjudged, it happens.

    Rondo will obviously be effected by Howard, he can’t finish in the lane agaisnt him (neither can Ray, who had two layups swatted) but he has to keep going at him, and hope he can draw a few fouls.

    KG will get going, he had solid looks, shots he hit agaisnt Cleveland. Lewis obviously has more length than Jamison did, so he’ll affect that shot more, but KG missed a lot of shots late in the game that we’ve seen him hit a hundred times. It wasn’t great defense (although not bad either) KG just missed. Make/Miss league, as Doc loves to say.

    Adjustments will be made, on both ends. Both teams have veteran guys who have been through this before, both teams are well coached. It will be a chess match, and it will be fun to watch.

    Expect Game 2 to be played 100% different than Game 1.

  • urbeltic

    @zach…yup, can lead to a three. I’m not saying its a bad play, but I just think its not something to get hot and bothered by because its relatively defendable. The only real threat Howard offers in that play is that when he rolls he’ll be in position to get a rebound – not actually score. In contrast, when Amare S sets the screen for Phoenix he is an immediate threat to hit a jumper or go in for a highlight slammah.

    @what more, I also agree that JJ.Ridick is going to be a bit of an x factor. I heard the the boys on tv talking about how Turkulu is missed because he had the ability to be a play maker/create plays. I’m not sure if this is because of Turk, but I definitely think Orlando had no facilitator in game 1…and JJ might just be the best option. I’ll give Jameer 20 per game, just don’t let him pass the ball.

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

    The Magic played Redick-Carter-Nelson in crunch time. Interesting. A bit smaller than normal, with neither of their SFs (Barnes, Pietrus) on the floor.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    The rest of the Cs can help Perk out by:

    A) STOP throwing LOW passes to Perk. STOP throwing FANCY passes to Perk.

    B) Sometimes Perk wants to start his post up too far from the basket. Don’t throw the pass to Perk until he has good, close position

    C) COME TO Perk and give him a passing angle when he has picked up his dribble or is holding the ball up top. Don’t just stand there waiting for Perk to travel. We all know Perk gets nervous when he is holding the ball too long. Perk can’t come to you. You’ve got to go to him. When Perk picks up his dribble you’ve got to get to him fast to bail him out.

    C) If you get beat & Perk has to bail you out don’t stand there gawking & get your but down there in the paint to help block out Dwight or your man & FIGHT for the defensive rebound. You need numbers to rebound so get down there & help Perk who is doing his best to clean up your mess.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Wish we could edit. I’m giving Perk a standing ovation for that D. He was fantastic! Sheed was frustrating Dwight & getting into his head so he deserves credit too.

  • Jason

    Perk can post up Howard, if the Cs let him and Perk was at all smart about it. Do his normal routine and really sell the baby hook. Howard would jump out of his shoes. Of course, Howard probably would only fall for it once, but hey if you get a foul on him, it’s worth it. Then again, Gortat’s proving (actually kind of proved it last year) he’s a better “player” than Howard.

    Howard’s just a physical freak and that gets him pretty far in this league, but he’s still a disappointment in my eyes. I mean, LeBron’s a physical freak too, but Howard even more so. Way more so. So why is LeBron a two-time MVP and Howard’s usually somewhere #3-5? Why isn’t Howard held to the same standards as LeBron or even higher standards? He should be doing more with his gifts and after MANY years, he’s not.

  • Jason

    “Then again, Gortat’s proving (actually kind of proved it last year) he’s a better “player” than Howard. ”

    My point was, sending Howard to the bench isn’t as fantastic to me as it is to most people. Let him keep throwing up bricks, using 23 possessions to get 13 points. We’ll take that. Gortat, as he showed though, can outproduce Howard rather regularly.

    I’m only semi-serious. Howard’s a load and if the Cs were more disciplined, they can contain Gortat better than they did. Plus, Howard on defense is, as expected, really protecting the lane. Rondo can barely drive, Ray was blocked 3 times, Perk doesn’t even try to test him, KG barely was in the post either. It’s not just the blocks, but the plays people don’t even bother to attempt. Just on that side, getting him out is huge. Plus he secures every rebound. But on the offensive end? Against Perk, Gortat’s better. Howard’s low efficiency, high turnover. That’s perfect.

  • Joel W

    On Perk’s offense:

    Given how much we need him to play in this series, shouldn’t Doc be figuring out ways to limit his screens in the offense. Obviously we need him to set them, but perhaps he needs to be more involved in “rugby scrum” type plays rather than those wing screens that Ray curls around. I feel like he doesn’t get called for similar plays below the foul line, but only when he’s angling outwards.

  • Jason

    Though I hated seeing the Cs let a 20 point lead dwindle to 2, I have to simply be happy with stealing a game and I am. (Damn, though, if they keep making the same mistake of playing the clock rather than doing what had been successful all game. So frustrating and I can’t help feeling VERY strongly it’s going to cost them a game and potentially a series.)

    Anyway, getting Game 1 is great. Got home court back. But, be happy with one game and go back home? Absolutely not. Being up 2-0 versus 1-1 is massive, not just a statement, but a statistical mega-advantage. They could almost essentially end the series after just two games. Plus, we just saw them steal one game then have the Cavs steal one right back. No one wants this or to be even in that position, so hopefully the Cs feel the urgency to step on their throats.

    So, based on game 1, what might we expect from game 2?

    Rondo: Defensively, hopefully he won’t allow Nelson some slack to go off. On offense, if Howard’s not in foul trouble, expect basically the same game, limited points, more patient orchestrating. That means even more need to limit his counterpart. Expectation? A little better than game 1.

    Ray: LOVED seeing him go to the hole over and over early on. He’s so smart to the game and people constantly undervalue parts of his game that don’t involve jump shooting. If he was a little smarter with Howard around, he might have had 30. Can expect too much more from him, but I don’t really expect a drop. Plus, at least one game he’s going 5-7 or 6-9 from 3. Expectation? Same.

    Pierce: Pierce was pretty much himself (with a little extra rebounding which wis valuable), including a stretch of dumb turnovers that lead to easy Magic points. Still, this is about what we expected out of Pierce and there’s no reason to change that after game 1. One or two more aggressive drives would be welcome, but otherwise he’s producing as expected. Expectation. Same.

    KG: Lewis had six points. Excellent. What a difference. But KG definitely can do better than 4-14. Expectation? Much more.

    Perk: I said pre-series that his offense would be gravy. But Beast, 5 TOs? Come on. Of course some of those illegal screen calls were pretty iffy. Anyway, EXCELLENT D. One game, Howard’s going to have a string of those fling shots go down, but that’ll be luck. It’ll happen. Perk just keeping doing what he’s doing. Expectation? Can’t be any worse on O. Can we expect 1-7 from Howard, though? Maybe we can. At the very least Perk hopefully can save some of his fouls for the defensive end and send Howard to the line even more. Net effect is the same. Or maybe even draw a couple more fouls himself and send Howard to the bench. Net Expectation? Same.

    Bench: Everyone’s loving Sheed and I see the good, too. But, 1-4 on twos. There’s room for improvement there. TA. Well, first of all, that alley oop so sick. Anyway, TA had a solid, but not necessarily impactful game. If he can harass Wade and LeBron, he can do better on Carter and I expect him to. Solid play from BBD. Overall, a little more from the bench.

    Typically, the Cs are more balanced with at least 4 guys in double figures. Game 1 was all Pierce and Ray and marginal contributions from others. We saw offensive sloppiness in the first half and stagnation in the 4th quarter. We saw the D slack in the 4th as well. Common wisdom seems to be that Orlando played horrible, but still had a chance. Well, overall, the Cs can definitely play better, too, and I would expect them to.

    As for the Magic, Lewis has to be better right? I hope Carter keeps playing 41 minutes and playing recklessly. I welcome 23 points on 21 possessions, 5 fouls and only 2 assists. Nelson can’t be allowed to go off again. Though, really he was 20 points on 21 possessions. Not really a killer. Everyone’s going to say Howard can’t be worse, but the flip side is he could certainly be in more foul trouble. Tough to know what Barnes will offer. Pietrus can’t be worse. Redick wasn’t crazy good, but still he should not be allowed any success by this defense. Williams and Gortat were 5-5 with 6 rebounds. That can’t happen, but just law of averages says it’s not going to.

    Overall, I see Rondo taking the Nelson matchup personally. Carter needs a hard shot and even without, his efficiency will likely go down. Howard could go off, but I doubt it. He more likely to be foul-ridden than dominant. I hope Lewis tries to force the issue, I just hope he’s not on fire. That’s two downgrades, a push and an improvement. However anyone else will change will be marginal and even out. Overall, worse Magic performance.

    Cs better, Magic worse, Cs go home up 2-0.

  • DRJ1

    There’s no questioning Perk’s value on defense. But is it too much to ask that he NOT throw the ball away when he touches it? In addition to the 5 official TOs, he also fumbled an easy rebound out of bounds (no possession, therefore no official TO) and took one extremely weak jump shot — after some confused hesitation on the right side — which Howard easily blocked. That’s SEVEN lost possessions — by ONE guy. Unacceptable.

    Sure, on balance, we MUST have Perk out there. But we also must do something about his offense. To that end…

    - No low passes to Perk
    - Do not pass to Perk unless he’s ready to dunk or shoot almost IMMEDIATELY. If he has to dribble — fuhgetaboutit. If he has to THINK — better start running back on defense.
    - This team has enough scorers so that Perk is not needed in that capacity, except for the occasional good opportunities that naturally open up in every game.

    @Jason – Agree that Gortat is the better scorer, Howard the better defender. All in all, I’m fine with Howard in there… looks like Cs have his number. Gortat’s kind of a wild card, so I’d rather see him on the bench.

  • Jay P

    @DRJ1

    There’s no way you can keep Perk from getting the ball, you can’t just camp him down low, there’s way too much movement in the Celtics offense.

    They need him as a screen in a number of different situations, back screens to try and free Ray curling along the baseline. You also need him the pop out and bring Howard out of paint, giving opportunities for guys to cut into the lanes or curl to the hoop.

    This is the NBA, you can’t just pull one guy out of your offensive sets completely and run 4 v 5. Perk just has to do a better job keeping his footwork solid and not being pressured off his spot.

  • DRJ1

    @Jay P– Agree. Didn’t mean he can’t touch the ball at all… just don’t pass it to him with the intention of having him score, unless he’s ready to immediately shoot or dunk. Gotta keep it simple for him. Perk often gets a pass where his job is to simply pass the ball to the next guy. He has no problem doing that.

    But like I said… if he has to dribble or think, we’re in trouble… unless he changes… but I don’t think he will… this has been going on for a while.

  • Ray Leighton

    @DRJ1 and Jay P and Cptn Bubbles — generally agree with you all but I just want to point out that removing Perk from the offense was exactly what we did in the final game against the Cavs. We did not run a single play for Perk the entire game. The only time Perk got the ball was when their was a horrible breakdown on the Cavs defense, transition, or an offensive rebound. And you know what? Perk scored around the same number of points, and he — and the team — had one of our fewest turnover games of the season. We seem to do just fine with 4 on 5 and Perk being opportunistic.

  • DRJ1

    @Ray– Sounds right. Pretty sure they’ll come to the same conclusion.

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