Post-game Reactions

Here is how the Magic’s shot selection numbers finished up for the Eastern Conference Finals as compared to their regular-season numbers. All stats are per game and found via the indispensable Hoopdata:

                                       Boston series                               Regular Season                           

At rim                        11.7-of-19.5 (59%)                         15.1-of-24.1 (62.8%)

< 10 feet *                 5.7-of-12 (47.2%)                           3.9-of-8.3 (46.5%)

10-15 feet                  2.5-of-5.8 (43%)                            2.3-of-5.6 (41.4%)

16-23 feet                  2.7-of-9.8 (27%)                            5.1-of-12.6 (40%)

Threes                       8.2-of-24.2 (34%)                          10.3-of-27.3 (37.7%)

FTAs                                  29.5                                                         26.5

So what happened? 

Boston pulled off three things it wanted to do defensively:

1) The C’s allowed Orlando fewer shot attempts at the rim. I suspect two things account for this. In order of priority: A) The Celtics were willing to foul Dwight Howard whenever he got the ball near the basket, even it meant one of their non-KG big man accumulated fouls fast; B) Perkins is strong enough to push Howard out of what Hoopdata considers “at the rim” range and into what Hoopdata considers the area between the rim and the 10-foot mark. 

We saw video evidence of this here, and you can see the only area of the floor in which the Magic attempted more shots against Boston than they did in the regular season was that area between the rim and the 10-foot mark. And that jump, from 8.3 field-goal attempts to 12 shots, is a huge, huge jump in a series in which so many games were close. 

2) The Celtics allowed fewer three-point attempts. Three fewer attempts per game doesn’t sound like much, but, again, in a series between two evenly matched teams, every possession matters. 

3) The C’s were able to run the Magic off the three-point line and contest mid-range shots strongly. Orlando’s shooting percentage on shots from the paint out to the foul line remained at regular-season levels, while their percentage on long twos dropped sharply. 

What does any of this mean going into the Finals? Well, it means that Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the staff are smart and understand what a team’s strengths are and how best to chip away at those strengths. But the Lakers, as you know, are a totally different animal. They’re an average shooting team at the rim and a below average one from deep, but they are capable of shooting well from either area in any individual game. 

Meanwhile, they thrive in the mid-range area that is an after thought for so many other teams, according to Hoopdata. The triangle is an adaptable offense that can produce good looks anywhere on the court. It will be fascinating to watch how the Celtics defend LA and how LA responds. 

Meanwhile, here are Boston’s shot location numbers from the Orlando series:

                                Orlando series                      Regular season

At rim                   11.5-of-20.7 (55.6%)              16.6-of-25.7 (64.4%)

< 10                       3.5-of-8 (43.8%)                     4.6-of-9.9 (46.6%)

10-15                     3.3-of-7.7 (43.5%)                  3.0-of-6.9 (42.9%)

16-23                     7.8-of-21.6 (36%)                    6.8-of-16.6 (40.8%)

Threes                   6.5-of-16 (40.6%)                    6.1-of-17.5  (34.8%)

There is a lot not to like in this data, isn’t there? Boston was the 2nd-best shooting team in the league this season on at-the-rim shots, but they couldn’t come close to their season-long mark against the Magic. That’s obviously the Dwight Howard effect, but the Lakers ranked 10th in the NBA at protecting the rim during the regular season, according to Hoopdata’s defensive numbers

The Magic also discouraged Boston from even attempting shots at the rim, as Boston’s attempts from in-close dropped by 5 per game. 

Yes, these are small sample sizes, but these things matter in games and in series. With Andrew Bynum providing a strong defensive presence, the Celtics ability to get into the paint and score will be key. 

As you can see, the C’s turned those missing at-the-rim shots into long two-pointers from that 16-to-23 feet range, which is not really ideal. 

They also caught fire from three-point range, hitting at a rate (40.6 percent) only the Suns eclipsed in the regular season. 

And guess which team allowed the lowest opponent three-point percentage during the season?

That would be the Lakers, who just got through turning the Suns into something resembling the worst three-point shooting team in the league.

And that, more than anything else, is why I never joined the “Beat L.A.” chorus and came out in preference of playing the Lakers in the Finals. The Celtics can absolutely beat the Lakers. It would be more meaningful historically to beat the Lakers. We know this. But if you’re giving me a choice between a team that is very good at offense and defense and a team that is off-the-charts at one and bad at the other, I’m taking the team that doesn’t play good defense every time. 

Instead, we get the Lakers. 

So: Beat L.A.!

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Zach Lowe

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  • PierceTurth

    hey zach, what do you think of Perk on Gasol and KG on Bynum. Gasol doesn’t really have a range which could bother Perk and he can also bully him and challenge Gasol on every shot he takes. Also Perk isn’t needed on offense like KG so its not like of Perk gets tired gaurding Gasol it will hurt us on offense. Also Bynum is hurt so its not like he can just back KG down and score every time.

    What do you think?

  • lakerland

    i know what you mean man, i’d much rather play the magic than you guys, but thats just how the cookie crumbles.

    @pierce truth: gasol can hit the mid range jumper when hes feeling it, which he hasn’t been of late. he is also way more offensively talented than dwight. i think the key to this match up will be on the rebounds.
    bynum is injured and playing bench player minutes while lamar is handling the starting load, so KG will be guarding lamar most of the time, who likes to make cuts and drives to the basket. hopefully KG’s legs will be a little rusty and LO can just blow by him.

  • PierceTurth

    @lakerland: true gasol is better offensively than dwight howard but still Perk is one of the best post defenders in the league. If he doesn’t completely stop Gasol he will definitely slow him down.
    If Odom does start and KG is matched up with him, I would have been worried about that matchup during the regular season but know after seeing him shut down hybrid 4s like Micheal Beasley, Antwan Jamison, and Rashard Lewis I am not worried. Now I would have been paying attention had Odom been coming off the bench and been matched up with Big Baby

  • Jason

    Howard really is amazing protecting the rim. Truly great. Of course, it also helps that he knocks people to the ground and doesn’t get called for fouls. Whatever, I’m over it. Kind of. Anyway, the Fakers could play Gasol, Bynum and Odom all in the lane at the same time and that still concerns me less than Howard alone in the lane. These guys just don’t have the strength or anticipation or quick and giant hops of Howard. Rondo’s going to have a field day. Perk is going to have a major strength advantage, practically a vacation compared to banging against Howard and Shaq. Point is, I expect the at-the-rim numbers to skyrocket back up. And in particular I’m looking forward to a number of facials: TA, Nate, anybody really. That sweating flopping llama isn’t going to be anything more than a speed bump.

  • @PierceTruth: Doubt we’ll see it. Bynum is too big for KG and Gasol indeed has a game that extends further our than you’re giving him credit for, I think.

  • lakerland

    i think jamison and lewis are more shooters than slashers like odom is and we will be seeing the LOvsKG matchup alot since bynum is limited to 20 mins a game even if he starts…..damn those knees of his.

    perkins is definitely a good defender and will give gasol a run for his money for sure. also realize that you can’t foul gasol though cause he actually makes free throws.

  • dasein

    @lakerland: Man, its good to hear a lakers fan who isn’t a slavering, car stomping, abuse hurling, nut-job with an unhealthy kobe fetish. It can’t be that hard to say we have two really good teams here and its going to be a great series, and yet…
    Anyway, enjoy the games- just not too much. I still want our guys to beat the *@%$ out of yours 🙂

  • Korey

    If it’s Odom v. KG consistently Lakers may be in trouble.

    KG can lock in on Odom’s left-handedness and totally bother him.

    If it’s KG v. Gasol consistently, then Lakers can win that matchup.

    Odom needs to stay matched up against Big Baby and Rasheed. If that happens, we (lakers) get mucho offensive boards and drives to the cup as neither of the two has the foot speed to keep up.

  • DeVelaine

    @Korey: Methinks BBD is more fleet of foot than you think. He should be able to start with LO on a run down court. It’s been known to happen when he’s on his game.

  • PierceTurth

    @Zack Lowe: Gasol’s range doesn’t extend further that Jermaine O’niel who has been well chronicled for not being a factor in that series. I’m not saying that Oniel is as talented as Gasol but still. Also Bynum is really hurting right now and I don’t think he will be able to dominate KG like he was healthy. We will be seeing a fair amount of Odom who KG can definitely stop and take on offensively.

  • Sophomore

    If Gasol and Bynum are in the frontcourt, doesn’t the matchup have to be Perk on Bynum and KG on Gasol?

    KG would be giving away too much weight and strength to Bynum, and Perk is better off playing closer to the rim to help on penetration – and not worrying about staying with Gasol when he rolls off a pick and roll.

  • Jay Cutler

    I think we’re missing what will be a very important dilemma: how to contain Kobe Bryant. Needless to say, he’s on fire now and doesn’t look like the end of season/OKC slowed down Kobe. I thought he played better than Rondo did and he did as great a job of picking his spots than at any time. I fear the Cs won’t be able to use the ‘let D Howard score his one on one as long as no other Laker is involved’ unless whoever he’s guarding similarly goes up in flames and makes Kobe work.

    We’ve seen Kobe struggle moderately against Posey/Durant long types and I think we can agree Ray Allen just isn’t all defensive team these days.

  • PierceTurth

    @JayCutler: I don’t think we are missing that dilemma. It’s just already known that Kobe will be Kobe and that he will get his. We have just all moved on to trying to solve the other problems and matchups. Although I do think that Tony Allen can and will give Kobe trouble defensively.

  • Eran

    There’s no way to shut Kobe down without getting the entire Lakers squad involved. Kobe will get his points, but most nights his percentages won’t be amazing so that shutting down everybody else will guarantee a win. Gasol remains the main problem, but I think the Cs are so aggressive when defending in the paint that they can wear him down until he becomes ineffective.

  • Korey

    Tony Allen is not in any way, shape, form, mutation, or cult-procedure going to be effective against Kobe.

    he’s not better defensively than grant hill, jared dudley, richardson or anyone like that.

    You wanna bother Kobe? Someone long or strong.

    Allen is neither. Next subject.

  • PierceTurth

    @Korey: TA didn’t stop Wade or LeBron but he did an excellent job at forcing to do something they didn’t want to do. Just watch, he will make an impact defensively

  • Eran

    Don’t forget that Ray Allen despite having half the size and athleticism of Lebron, did a reasonable job on him. He also has a lot of experience guarding Kobe and I don’t think he’ll have any problems limiting Kobe most of the time to contested low-percentage jumpers (when Kobe is not on fire).

  • Paolo


    I think you’re giving too little credit to TA. We all underestimated him and wrote him off (even us Celtics fans) and we were proven wrong. Seriously, I don’t know if the Celtics would have reached the finals if TA didn’t guard Wade and Lebron for us in stretches.

  • Ray Leighton

    @Korey — please ignore the brutal abuse that I poured out onto Lakers fans in an earlier post. It was getting ugly….

    Anyway, seriously, we aren’t all saying that TA is a good defender because he wears green. TA actually had better defensive stats this year — not only in steals, but particularly in terms of preventing his opposite from scoring — than any of the people on the Suns you mentioned. If you expand numbers out to 48 minutes, it becomes apparent that he is one of the better defensive guards in the league. I’ve watched the games with Cleveland several times, and TA really was the only guy we had who frequently shut down Lebron one-on-one. TA is not an offensive threat except in transition, but he is very athletic and he’s a tough defender. Of course, I expect that the Celtics’ defensive scheme against Kobe will be similar to what we did against DWade and Lebron, which is to prevent penetration, and use multiple different defenders during the game. But I bet TA does OK (as much as can be done) against Kobe.

  • Sophomore

    Something is wrong with the hoopdata link.

  • Sophomore

    Actually, something is wrong with my ability to understand the hoopdata website – link’s fine.

  • The Dude Abides

    Bynum will start for sure, and play 20-24 minutes per game. Odom will play starter’s minutes, but he’ll come off the bench. The two biggest differences for each team from 2008 are:

    1) Lakers have Bynum and Artest starting at C and SF with Odom the first big off the bench, instead of Odom and Vlad Rad starting at PF and SF with Pau playing center and the team bringing Walton off the bench; in 08, Pierce was the most important offensive player for Boston and was matched up against the two worst defensive players on the Lakers (Vlad, Luke)…

    2) Fish will guard Ray Allen & Kobe will guard Rondo; I realize that this was the alignment from Games 3-6 in 2008, but Games 1 & 2 in Boston were very important and set the tone for the series…the Lakers were 0-4 with Fish on Rondo and 2-2 with Kobe on him in the 2008 regular season plus playoffs, and they’re 3-0 with Kobe on him ever since…

    1a) Rondo is one of the five best PGs in the league now, and a very strong argument could be made that he’s the best two-way PG in the league; he will be a far tougher matchup for Kobe than he was in 08, and he was phenomenal in Game 6 of that series…

    2a) I believe that a bench of PJ Brown + Posey + Powe + Eddie House is significantly better than a bench of Sheed + Baby + Tony Allen + Nate or Finley or Daniels…

    So the question is, which changes will offset the others? I think it will be advantage to the Lakers, as IMO their changes have been a bigger improvement and they now have home-court advantage (although the Celtics have been nails on the road).

  • PierceTurth

    @DudeAbides: I agree mostly on your points 1,2, and 1a but 2a is not true. If anything it is almost similar if not better. Throughout the playoffs we have had a great bench and at least one bench player was in double figures every game. The ’08 bench is not significantly better than this bench, that is for sure.

  • laker fan

    2008 bench is pj brown, sam cassel, james posey, healthy powe and house, which is good
    2009 bench is wallace, davis, tony allen, robinson and daniels, which is near as good as above, so no problem on the celts bench

    however the real differences from 2008 to 2010 are:
    1. we have artest on pierce
    2. we have bynum off the bench [coz he plays bench mins]
    and the biggest one is
    3. homecourt advantage… this is very important when equally elite teams go against each other…

  • greenpaz

    Lakerland is a plant. What true Lakers fan doesn’t want the Celtics in the Finals?

  • celtics are whiners

    Go Lakers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “BOSTON SUCKS!!! BOSTON SUCKS!!!”

    In all seriousness:

    1) Aside from his whining histronics and his attempts to intimidate people, Garnett is a shell of his former self. Gasol is loads stronger and tougher than he was in 2008. In 2008, this was basically Perkins vs Gasol. Not so now. Advantage = Lakers.

    2) Bynum vs. Perkins. Bynums is WAY more skilled than Perkins, although Perkins is stronger. I think Bynum will contribute more to the series than will Perkins, plus I think Perkins will get at least more more T, ’cause he’s just a punk that way. Slight Advantage = Lakers.

    3) Kobe (O) vs. either Pierce/R. Allen/ T. Allen (D) = Big Advantage Lakers. Kobe is still Kobe; ‘nough said.

    4) Pierce (O) vs. Artest (D) = Pierce isn’t what he was two years ago, although he can stil sometimes shake off father time; however, he hasn’t faced this kind of quality defender in the playoffs yet, mainly b/c there’s isn’t another. Artest is bigger and stronger than Pierce and is an absolute bulldog when it comes to on-ball defense. Advantage = Lakers.

    5) R. Allen vs. Kobe/Fish (D). Kobe vs. Allen = Big Advantage Lakers. Kobe is maybe the best on-ball defender in the NBA, when he resists the urge to float. Fish is a bulldog and isn’t as bad a matchup for the slow, old Allen as you celtics fans might think. Plus, if he gets hot, Kobe will rotate and that will be that. Allen vs. Fish = draw.

    6) Rondo (O) vs. Kobe/Fish (D). Rondo is outstanding. Similar in speed and slashing ability to Westbrook with OKC, who burned Fish. However, Kobe took over Westbrook in the OKC series and brought him back down to earth. Plus, the Lakers have been dealing with Fish’s deficiencies with the fast, slashing PG types for hte better part of 2 seasons. This is not as pib an advantage as you think. Rondo vs. Fish = Advantage Celtics. Rondo vs. Kobe = draw.

    7) A motivated Odom vs. anyone = Big advantage Lakers. A non-motivated Odom = Advantage Celtics. At this point, Odom is faster, stronger, and a better finisher than Garnett’s defense can account for. Plus Odom’s not intimidated by Garnett like a think he was last time.

    Season series. The Lakers and Celtics played to a 1-1 tie, as we know. However, what was the missing Lakers ingredient in the Celtics victory?? Anyone??

    Prediction: Lakers in 6. Your Celtics are unfotuntately too good not to take a couple, but if the Lakers win game 1, look out. PJ is like 45-0 when we wins game 1.

  • i love boston

    people here say a lot of things which for the most part are irritating especially when its easy to point out what can make la or boston win/lose the series

    simple, folks…
    if la wins the first two games in staples, its already wrapped…
    if boston split the first two games, boston will win the title no doubt

    when two elite teams face in a series, its all about protecting the homecourt