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Memorial Day Notebook: ’08 Comparisons, Artest Factor, Kobe on Rondo

 

Some brief links/commentary before I head out to celebrate Memorial Day:

• Comparisons with 2008 are inevitable, and I will have one here tomorrow, and Boston fans will inevitably counter the notion that this version of the Lakers is superior to the ’08 version (they are, and it’s obvious) by pointing out that Rajon Rondo makes this Celtics team a different animal. Here’s Shaun Powell at NBA.com on Rondo’s maturity:

The big change with Rondo? He’s no longer a legend in his own mind. Sounds crazy, but Rondo actually thought he was a star before he officially became one, according to people within the organization. It led to some friction with the Big Three and the higher-ups, who grew weary of Rondo’s act. They paid their dues, he hadn’t.

There were times when the dominant voices on the club (Doc Rivers, KG, etc.) would say one thing and Rondo would do another, not to be defiant, but because he thought his way was better. And that often became an issue. 

“Leadership is established by what you do on the court,” Ainge said. “It’s not what you say. It’s how you go about your job. Rondo’s had to learn that. He’s always been bright and looked at himself as one of the veterans. He’s had to learn how to be a listener.”

This narrative of a brazen young Rondo clashing with the wizened veterans has been floating around for 18 months now, and it usually appears, as it does here, in very general terms.

 I’ve seldom, if ever, read concrete examples of it happening. Hopefully someone somewhere is saving some good Rondo Grew Up stories for a book. 

• Charley Rosen of FOX Sports picks the Lakers in six

Kobe, on the other hand, is the only player, alive or dead, who can reasonably be mentioned in the same breath as His Airness.

As such, there’s no way that Ray Allen, Tony AllenPaul PierceKevin Garnett, or even Tom Thibodeau can hope to hamper Kobe’s offensive explosions. 

And:

Artest can bull through Pierce on his way to the hoop and the offensive glass. The Celtics will smartly challenge Ron-Ron to knock down open shots while they point their defense at Kobe. And if Artest can repeat his Game 6 accuracy, the Lakers could sweep.

Two brief reactions: Thibodeau found a way to bother Kobe in 2008, when Bryant shot 40.5 percent in the Finals. The personnel was different then, sure, and the Celtics today do not have someone with the length of James Posey to serve as secondary defender on Bryant. Second: The Artest/Pierce match-up frightens me. The early comments about thi series shows me some Boston fans may  not realize how much the Lakers have upgraded the small forward spot since the ’08 Finals. 

I mean: Do you even remember who started at the three for LA in the ’08 Finals? 

• Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, cross-posting at the Herald for the Finals, has Kobe reflecting on Pierce and Artest:

“Pierce is a very tough matchup,” Bryant said. “He’s one of the few players that has a long ball, that has mid-range game, can get to the basket. I think that makes him tough to cover, but Ron is up to the challenge.”

That is a simple, elegant summation of why Pierce is a good offensive player, isn’t it? 

• Howard Beck leads off his Finals piece in The New York Times with a fun anecdote:

Not long after winning the championship last summer, Jackson, the Los Angeles Lakers coach, visited his daughter’s apartment complex. There, improbably, he bumped into Paul Pierce, the Boston Celtics star.

The Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 finals but had failed to make it back for the rematch. Jackson had a request.

“I said, ‘Get it back. We want to meet you in the finals,’ ” Jackson said, recalling his moment with Pierce.

• Mark Heisler of the LA Times does a position-by-position breakdown and guesses that Kobe will spend more time than not guarding Rajon Rondo:

Rondo still passes up open 15-footers but finishes over big men, rebounds over big men, frees up teammates and gets every loose ball in or near his vicinity with his long arms and huge hands.

If Kobe plays him, Rondo had better start taking those 15-footers because he’ll get a lot of them.

If Phil Jackson really is ready to make Bryant Rondo’s primary defender, I hope Ray Allen is working on his post-up game. 

• Ron Borges of the Herald gives us this nugget about the team’s extra-long film session between Games 5 and 6 of the Orlando series:

“It started after the loss to Orlando,” Celtics swingman Tony Allen said. “Guys thought it was going to be a long film session. It started off rough. Doc had a grueling film session and it was funny, well not funny, but it kind of surprised me that he stopped the film session and just told us, ‘Guys, we don’t even need to watch film. We just gotta go out there and play hard.’

“I think guys remembered that we don’t need to look at no film with this team. All we got to do is play hard, and we played hard and executed our stuff.”

Tony Allen’s ankle is an underrated little subplot of these Finals, by the way. He’s going to spend some time guarding Bryant, which means he’s going to spend some time on the court alongside Rajon Rondo. In that set-up, TA’s ability to drive on or post-up against Derek Fisher (should Bryant guard Rondo) is important to avoid the offensive stagnation that can always pop up when you pair two guards who both lack a consistent jumper. 

• The Globe’s Julian Benbow reminds us that Red Auerbach played a role in changing the NBA Finals format to 2-3-2:

“Although he’s not here to defend himself and deny it,’’ Stern said in ’08, “I tell you that Red said to me back in ’84, ‘This is too much. Play, travel, play, travel, play, travel,’ In subsequent years, he said it was terrible that we changed it to 2-3-2, but a young commissioner was motivated by the father of us all.’’

• In a brief series preview at ESPNBoston.com, Peter May reminds us of two things:

  1. Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who passed Red Auerbach for NBA titles last year by winning his 10th, has never lost any playoff series when his team has won Game 1. Five teams he has taken to the Finals have lost Game 1: the 1991 Bulls, the 1998 Bulls, the 2001 Lakers, the 2004 Lakers and the 2008 Lakers. Only the 2004 and 2008 Lakers did not win the series.
  2. The current Celtics starting five has never lost a playoff series, winning all seven. And the Celtics still believe that if Kevin Garnett had been healthy last year, they’d be going for a three-peat.

Jackson’s teams are 47-0 after winning Game 1. That is fast becoming a pretty amazing record. According to this Globe piece, a team that wins Game 1 at home has gone on to win a best-of-seven series 86.5 percent of the time. 

Now, Jackson’s teams weren’t at home for Game 1 in every single one of those 47 playoff series, but they were for most of them. And if those series had played out to match that 86.5 percent rule, Jackson’s teams would be something like 40-7 or 41-6 in those 47 series. 

So what Jackson has managed to do—never lose a single time!—is a statistically significant thing, I think. 

• Bresnahan lists some memories from the ’08 Finals the Lakers could use as motivators:

In no particular order, they could use: Paul Pierce dancing on the Celtics’ bench during a timeout in the final minutes of the 2008 NBA Finals; the Garden crowd derisively chanting “Where is Kobe?” while the Celtics hovered near a 30-point fourth-quarter lead and Kobe Bryant sat on the bench in the decisive Game 6; the Celtics returning to Los Angeles later in the summer of ’08 for a sports awards show and bragging onstage of “another win in L.A.” after taking the category for top pro team of the year.

The ’08 Finals were fun, weren’t they? Hopefully this series will be, too. It will definitely be physical and feisty. The Lakers are a focused, angry bunch. 

Enjoy Memorial Day, folks.

  • Chris O.

    Artest can bull through Pierce on his way to the hoop and the offensive glass. The Celtics will smartly challenge Ron-Ron to knock down open shots while they point their defense at Kobe. And if Artest can repeat his Game 6 accuracy, the Lakers could sweep.

    ____
    How is anyone thinking SWEEP either way…that’s just ridiculous. Also Kob’es assessment of Pierce is dead on, same can be said of Kobe except he is obviously even more explosive than Pierce. Just like the last two series I’ll say this…its going 6 or 7 and the Celt’s have a good chance to win…not that LA can’t come away with it but after Cleveland and the Magic I gotta go with the C’s.

  • Paolo

    “Artest can bull through Pierce on his way to the hoop and the offensive glass. The Celtics will smartly challenge Ron-Ron to knock down open shots while they point their defense at Kobe. And if Artest can repeat his Game 6 accuracy, the Lakers could sweep.”

    I think Pierce is being labeled here as a terrible defender. The team defense of the Celtics is also being treated as non-existent if Artest can easily “bull his way to the hoop”. The reason why Artest was hitting those shots in game 6 was because the Suns really wanted to ignore him at the 3-point line. I expect the Celtics to want him to take those shots, but I don’t expect them not to contest at all.

  • Korey

    Vladimir Radmanovic.

    Think about that name.

    That’s who guarded Paul Pierce in 2008 w/Luke Walton as a backup. Ariza didnt play.

    It’s Ron Artest time.

    Celtics fans dont want to admit that, but thats a huge huge huge difference.

    Pierce is your go to guy but what happens when your go to guy has a battle every play?

    Lakers found that out in 08. Celtics, your turn.

    Rondo needs to avg 25pts and 10 assists this series. He does it twice but not 4 times, Lakers in 6.

  • Paolo

    @Korey

    I’m not saying Ron Artest will shut down Pierce, but I have to agree that he’s going to be challenging Pierce a lot. However, Artest’s defense has not faced a Pierce-type of player in the playoffs yet. Yes he faced Durant (and shut him down really well), but Pierce is a different type of offensive player. Interesting to see how that will play out.

    However, I have to question something about our go-to-guy battling on every play. We have a lot of them.

  • dslack

    Durant is a superior offensive player to Pierce. I’m not saying Artest will necessarily hold Pierce to 35% shooting like he did with Durant, but Durant and Pierce as both out of central casting for players-Artest-was-built-to stop.

  • matthew

    if ray-ray and esp. KG get back to 2008 form in their most-likely last finals appearance, I assure you: Celtics in 5. Nuff said.

  • Korey

    Paolo,
    actually you only have 1 go to guy, maybe 1.5.

    GTG being defined as a guy you give the ball to late and say score.

    You run plays for Allen. You run plays for KG.

    But late in the game, it’s Pierce at the elbow. I say 1.5, cuz I’m not convinced Rondo does anything late other than defer to Pierce (to the detriment of your offense). I’ll admit that Rondo can be a late playmaker but without a jumpshot we’ll see if he can do it (cant really reference ’08 cuz there were no close games to test that theory).

    So yea, I’m not saying PP is 100% shut down, but I’m saying all game is has to battle which dramatically lowers the chances he’ll get in a zone.

  • Paolo

    @dslack

    Durant puts up bigger numbers all right, but the difference is Pierce has go-to moves and can create shots off the dribble really well (a bit like Kobe, to an extent). Durant is very good, but his strengths are in slashing (blowing by his man) and pull-up jump shots. Whenever Artest hounded him, it would just force Durant to attempt a tightly contested pull-up or pass off to a teammate. Somehow, it’s like when you’re asking Ray Allen to create his own shot: it usually is a contested pull-up jumper.

  • DeVelaine

    @Korey: Ron-Ron over a corpse, yes, is an upgrade. But he can be just as much a detriment as a benefit to you. Especially against a world-class defense like the Lakers are going to find themselves fighting with. Good luck finding 4 wins when Kobe has to take the majority of the team’s shots because no one other than Artest can get a whiff of an open shot.

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

    For anyone arguing that Pierce is a better offensive player than Durant, well, it’s 2010, and that’s not true anymore by any measure.

  • Paolo

    @Korey

    I have to agree with you on that one. Pierce, when not in the zone, becomes really terrible at ISO plays at the end of the game. (However, I need stats to back me up on this) Good call about the go-to-guy.

  • DRJ1

    - ‘Game 1 winners’ is arguably a self-selected group, because those teams are typically the ones with HCA, which, in normal years, means those teams are better to begin with (better reg season record). Not true this year. This year, the game-1 winner will be the team that simply plays harder/better… also an excellent indicator of ultimate success, but not nearly as convincing as it has been in ‘normal’ years.

    - Re Paul: All the gloating on the Lakers side about Artest on Paul, and (to a much lower extent) the hand-wringing on our side, is just a waste of time. We KNOW Paul will be better-guarded. As he was in the CLE series. Didn’t stop the Cs then, and it won’t now. It just means we will probably not see too many Paul explosions this time around. Other guys will be stepping up… Rondo and Ray come to mind. KG too. The Cs know this, and are planning accordingly.

    - The single biggest problem the Cs face is guarding Kobe. Here there is one factor that most analysts are ignoring — the simple fact that Kobe, in addition to being very talented, is a VERY TALL GUARD. At 6’7″, he simply shoots right OVER most guys that guard him. That is exactly why Paul had so much success against Kobe in 08 Game 4 — all of a sudden, Kobe was facing a determined, talented defender that was TALLER than him. And it worked.

    Posey, with his skills AND HEIGHT will be sorely missed in this series. TA is NOT EQUIPPED to stop Kobe, no matter how healthy he is. He is just not tall enough, period. Paul is our best Kobe stopper. Our 2nd-best? That COULD be Marquis Daniels. I.e., it’s possible that this series is when we finally see a lot more of Marquis, because he’s just about Kobe’s height, and is capable of pretty tenacious D when motivated. It’s possible/arguable that this series is the reason Marquis is in Boston.

    - I like Perk on Bynum, and KG/Wallace on Gasol. Perk or Baby on Gasol = trouble for us. There’s nobody Baby is particularly well-suited to guard in this series. Once again, the Cs will need everything Sheed can give them. He’s in Boston for just these last two series… ORL and LA… they’re his raison d’etre (in Boston). And he has stepped up, big time.

    - It looks like this will be a Rondo-centric series.

  • Sophomore

    @zach – No question Durant is a better offensive player than Pierce right now. But he’s also a different kind of offensive player, in that he relies a lot on grace and touch, and not on changing pace and creating contact. Artest handled Durant by being physical, bodying up on him in a way you almost never see out on the perimeter. That might work on Pierce as well, but there’s at least a chance that Pierce will be able to draw fouls and force Artest to play a different, less effective style.

    Bottom line – Pierce almost certainly will be less effective than he was against Orlando, but I expect him to be significantly better than he was against Cleveland.

  • joe

    pierce had a horrible offensive series v the cavs and the c’s still took care of them pretty easily – the artest/pierce matchup is def important but its not gonna single handedly decide the series – both of these teams are quite dynamic and flawed, it should be interesting

  • Korey

    The Tall Theory is a good one against Kobe.

    Three kind of defenders that can bother Kobe: strong, long, or incredibly crafty.

    #3 is incredibly rare to have on your team. That’s Bruce Bowen or Battier. Celts dont have one.

    #2 is Tayshaun Prince, Thabo Sefalosha.
    Kirilenko, etc. Marquis Daniels *may* be long enough but I’m not sure. I think he got torched in Dallas by Kobe and i question his defensive discipline.

    #1 is a James Posey, Melo, Pierce, etc. guys who are just bigger. The bump to create space is less effective.

    In my opinion, your only hope to contain Kobe from getting to any spot he wants is Pierce.

  • zippo1976

    Lakers fan here. One thing that the Lakers have going for them against every team in the NBA with the exception of the Celtics is the intimidation factor. In the playoffs, in the final seconds of a tight game, time and again you see one of the Lakers make a play and/or their opponents tighten up. Of the four Laker victories against Orlando in last year’s 5 game finals, 2 of those wins were the result of the Magic succumbing to the “Lakers Mystique”. Unfortunately for Laker fans, this does NOT appear to affect the Celtics one little bit.
    .
    One thing that the Celtics fans should take heed of is the fact that the PRIMARY reason that the Lakers signed Ron Artest in the first place is to defend Paul Pierce in the Finals. At this point in both of their careers, Artest is every bit as good a defensive player as Pierce is on offense. Zach is correct to be frightened of this matchup, because if Artest dominates it the way Rosen surmises he might, the Celtics are going to find it extremely difficult to win 4 games from the Lakers no matter what kind of performance they get out of Rondo.

  • Korey

    Develaine,
    You are right in the Artest liability.

    But the funny part is 2 games out of every series this playoffs Artest will get on fire and kill you.

    He is a NBA player, a former 18-20pt scorer. You leave a guy that wide open and 1 or 2 games he’s going to beat you.

    Ironically, he is a much better fit vs. the Celtics because Artest needs contact to play well. And Pierce will give it to him on offense and defense.

    I will admit that Artest 3 pt bonanza scares me he’s shown every series he’s going to be crazy hot a couple of games and that will be the difference for us.

  • joe

    i have a feeling next time durant sees artest he’ll have a little something for him – that series was a learning experience – pierce of course has already been to school – artest can slow him but theres no way he owns him like he did durant – and ronron cant make paul work on D like lebron did

  • The Dude Abides

    Brought over from the previous thread:

    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).

  • Korey

    @joe:
    You are correct. Durant seems to be a player in the Kobe mold. By that I mean constantly comes back with a new wrinkle.

    He’ll be better and ready for Artest next year.

    But I believe Durant needs to learn how to create plays for others as the next step. Right now, he is pure scorer.

    That’s Carmelo’s problem. Great players can influence the game multiple ways.

  • Jay P

    @The Dude Abides

    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…

    I have to disagree with this one. I wont disagree with Posey vs. TA, clear downgrade there only for the fact that we lose a shooter when TA is in there. And playing Rondo + TA creates a lot of spacing problems. But Wallace and Baby have been playing great this post season, I’ll take them over PJ and Powe right now. Baby’s ability to do the little things is fantastic, and Wallace spaces the floor and pulls a big guy out of the paint, enabling slashing moves from TA and Rondo from the wings, can’t under value that.

    Finally, the little guy no ones talking about, who I really believe can be an X-factor in this series is Nate Robinson. We all knew he could score, there was no doubt about that, but his defense in Game 6 against Nelson was really great. He’s a guy that could seriously impact this series, there’s not a PG on that team that can stop him in he heats up.

  • Jay P

    @zippo1976

    You make good points. I like the “Laker mystique” thing, and I’d say the same goes true for a lot of teams against Boston. There’s definitely an “aura” around both teams that’s undeniable.

    Far as Artest goes, yes, the match up worries me. But I’m not “frightened” by it like Zach put it. Pierce is not going to go for 30+, no doubt, but then again, he’s going to get his points in spots. They’ll run him off screens, they’ll force switches, they’ll get him the ball in his spots. You won’t see a 1 v 1, get him the ball and clear out strategy against Artest (I hope…) because we know that’s just not going to work.

    But this team can beat you in so many other ways, so if you’re banking on “If Artest stops Paul Pierce the Celtics can’t win.” You seriously have another thing coming.

  • Vahagn

    I know comparisons to 2008 are trite and over-used but a few key nuggets are important. In 2008 the Lakers had exactly ONE great perimeter defender to guard 3 great perimeter players. They now have 2, that makes a big difference because Ray Allen and PP were your MVP’s in that series. We can live with two of your big 4 going off, but not 3 or 4.

    KG is not anywhere near what he was in 2008 physically and he spent most of the Cleveland series this year shooting mid-range shots over Shaq and Jamison rather than punishing them inside. Odom and Pau have a lot more skill/determination/toughness than Jamison on the defensive end and as long as KG is shooting up mid range jumpers we’re happy with that.

    Rondo is absolutely amazing, but Kobe shut down a stronger, quicker, more athletic russell westbrook, he should be able to do at least as good a job on Rondo as Jameer did. Artest will do much better than Vlade or Luke did on Pierce.

    I expect Kobe to play well, but not transcendent on offense. I think even Kobe expects this. He’ll probably shoot 45% from the field and score around 28-29 points a game but won’t be in the 32-33 range i think.

    The Celtics team defense scares the living crap out of me but the Lakers WILTED under the pressure of the 2008 Finals. I hardly doubt this happens now.

  • zebulon

    About Kobe’s length:

    Kobe is 6’7″, which means he can shoot over the top of smaller defenders (ie Ray and TA). But that shot over the top is exactly what we want as a Celtic defense – a contested two off the dribble. Even better of TA’s athleticism forces him to shoot it while fading away.

    Kobe’s midrange game is good, but he 40% is about as well as he can shoot from midrange with a hand in his face. It’s when Kobe has driving lanes to the basket for easy layups or dump-offs to Gasol that he will kill us, and putting TA on him helps shut down those driving lanes, because TA has much quicker feet than Kobe at this stage in their careers.

    Also, Ron Artest initiating the offense vs. Pierce would be a huge positive for us. Ron is not a ball handler (prone to stupid turnovers), not a good shooter off the dribble, and has terrible shot selection issues. If the laker offense runs through him instead of Gasol/bryant, the celtics will be in a good place.

  • Paolo

    @Vahagn:

    “Rondo is absolutely amazing, but Kobe shut down a stronger, quicker, more athletic russell westbrook, he should be able to do at least as good a job on Rondo as Jameer did.”

    The problem here is that Kobe defended Westbrook, who as we all know, is not really the best passer at the point guard position. He got his points and Kobe guarding him eventually slowed him down. However, Rondo is a double-edged sword. If you focus on taking away his scoring, he is also one of the best passers and assist-men in the league.

    Also, I don’t think anybody believes that Jameer did a good job on Rondo.

  • Coolin

    The Pierce vs. Artest matchup will go like this: Pierce 21 ppg 7 reb and 3 assists vs. Artest 11 ppg 7 reb and 2 ast. That is Pierce +10 vs. Artest and the Celtics will take the +10 all day. Ray needs to go for 18 ppg and then the Celtics win in 6.

  • http://hoopstersworld.blogspot.com miss j.moxie

    @Zach – I think there might be a typo up there.

    “…TA’s ability to drive on or post-up against Derek Fisher (should Bryant guard Kobe) is important…”

    The “should Bryant guard Kobe” part.

  • Korey

    Coolin,
    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “the world is not a vacuum”…

    Pierce +10 over Artest is irrelevant.

    Just like Kobe +10 over Allen would be irrelevant.

    It’s about efficiency and effectiveness.

    If Pierce avgs. 21 on 40% shooting, that’s not good for you guys.

    The key as has been reiterated is Rondo: He needs to average 20 and 10 in this series (or a 15, 12, 8 type series). If he doesnt, you will lose. Mark it.

  • The Dude Abides

    @Jay P, good points about Wallace and Baby. Sheed has definitely picked up his game in the postseason, but he’s still been pretty inconsistent. And Baby is very good off the bench, but he is not the legitimate post threat against Bynum, Gasol, or Odom that Powe was. He is just the sort of PF that the Laker bigs gobble up with their length, a la Carlos Boozer or Kenyon Martin. And even though Powe isn’t much taller than Baby, he was so good at drawing fouls, a la another undersized PF who’s always given the Lakers trouble, Paul Millsap.

    Also, I just don’t see Nate giving Boston the same type of consistent spot-up shooting off the bench that Eddie House gave them. But that’s why they play the games, right? My biggest fear is Phil having a tactical brain fart and putting Fisher back on Rondo like he did for the two regular season games that season and the first two games of the Finals. The Lakers were 0-4 in those games, and they’re 5-2 against the Celtics since then with Kobe on Rondo. While I think it’s doubtful, that Phil does this, he can be so unpredictable sometimes.

  • chris

    Never underestimate the drive behind guys like Garnett, Allen, and Pierce. All 3 know this is it. For someone like Bryant he still has time left, but for Boston’s Big 3 they realize this is their last chance. Don’t underestimate how a player reacts when he knows this is it for him.

  • DRJ1

    @zebulon– good point about wanting Kobe to shoot over the top of our shorter defenders. Probably true… I say “probably” only because at the end of games, that guy just goes nuts. But overall… yeah, let him keep taking contested jumpers.

    @chris– small point, but I must disagree about this being the “last chance” for our Big 3. Uh uh. There’s at least next year.

  • Jay Cutler

    “One thing that the Celtics fans should take heed of is the fact that the PRIMARY reason that the Lakers signed Ron Artest in the first place is to defend Paul Pierce in the Finals.”

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say actually Ron was brought in for LBJ.

  • The Dude Abides

    @Jay Cutler, not only LBJ and Pierce but also Durant, Brandon Roy, and Carmelo.

  • I love Green

    RAY ALLEN WILL BE THE 2010 FINALS MVP.

    Nobody is even thinking of how good he’ll do if Fisher guards him (which I think he will the majority of the time).
    Ray will go off this series, splashing 3s off screens, getting good looks off screens, and blowing by Fisher off the dribble. He’ll average 20-25 ppg.

  • The Dude Abides

    @chris, the only Laker fans underestimating the will to win of those guys are 12-year olds who don’t understand the NBA. But this is the NBA Finals, and when you get that far, everyone can taste the ring. Don’t forget that the Lakers also have some guys with that kind of drive, like Kobe, Fish, Artest, Vujacic, etc…

    OK that last name was a joke ;-)

  • Dan

    Despite Artest’s impressive performance against Durant in round 1, his defensive rating has actually been fairly subpar for the playoffs overall (113, tied for 7th on the Lakers). I also think Pierce could be a different type of matchup for Artest than Durant. Throughout the OKC-LA series, it seemed Durant settled for the contested jumper far too often and didn’t exhibit a great ability (in this series anyway) to blow by his defender and get to the rim (something noted by the Daily Thunder true hoop blog). I think Pierce could have more success against Artest because of his ability to get to the rim and exaggerate contact on drives to the rim. Also, does anybody know if there’s a way to look at the success Pierce has had against Artest in the past, using something like Synergy?

    Finally, I think Artest’s offensive contributions are being overrated. Against the thunder, the best team defense the Lakers faced by far until now, Artest was god-awful on offense the entire series. The Suns on the other hand often left him entirely open at the three point line and he still struggled to make shots in most games. Seeing as the Celtics will not let him get an entirely uncontested shot off very often, I don’t see Artest as being an important contributor offensively.

  • the guy

    I believe Ray Allen will be the key to this series. Even if Kobe guards Rondo, Fisher is very adept at fighting through screens. He not only punishes the screener but usually draws 1-2 illegal screen calls a game. However, Ray Allen is taller and quicker than fisher and if he can shoot around 40 percent from 3 and get easy drives into the lane, it will be a very long series for the lakers.

  • Dan

    Speaking of a Pierce vs. Artest – http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=piercpa01&p2=artesro01

    It seems like Pierce has gotten the better of this matchup over the course of their careers. At the very least, it seems to refute the notion Artest will “shut down” Pierce for the entirety of this series.

  • Robert Riley

    Robert says: The Celtics have suprised everyone with the increased intensity of their defense. Their rotations have been excellent and their rebounding has increased substantially. I believe the Lakers will wilt under the continued defense pressure by the time we get them back to Boston. I predict the Celtics in six.

    Ya baby! Number 18 will be sweet at the expense of the LA Fakers.

  • Korey

    Dan,
    what you need to do is look at what happened when Artest faced Pierce in the playoffs.

    I know we all love #s, but #s in context tell the story.

    In that series, Artest got the better of Pierce until game 3 when Artest starting getting technicals and thrown out.

    Also, why dont you reference what happened when Artest played Pierce this year?

    I’m not saying Ron Artest completely shuts down Paul Pierce, but let’s not go to the other extreme.

    There are plenty of #s that would suggest that Artest is effective vs. Pierce.

    And the big issue is twofold:
    #1 Ron Artest is better than Vladimir Radmanovic and Luke Walton on D. So Pierce doesnt get to float around.

    #2 Ron Artest is better than any defender Pierce has seen all postseason.

    So if people want to say “Kobe hasnt faced a D like Boston’s all postseason” then let’s also say “Pierce hasnt faced a D like the Lakers’ all posteason either”

  • zebulon

    @Korey

    “#2 Ron Artest is better than any defender Pierce has seen all postseason.”

    Pierce faced LeBron about two and a half weeks ago. LeBron is a better player than Artest in absolutely every way, including defensively.

  • The Dude Abides

    Those Artest vs Pierce head to head numbers suggest that Artest lowered Pierce’s FG% from his career average (44.5% to 43.4%), raised his career turnover avg from 3.0 to 3.3, and lowered his FT attempts per game from 7.7 to 6.8. Pierce did shoot a higher 3-pt % against Artest compared to his career avg (38.9% vs 36.9%). Pierce averaged one more minute per game of playing time against Artest vs his career avg min/game, and his point per game avg is 22.5 career and 20.5 vs Artest, with his assists per game avg the same.

    However, in the past two seasons, in his four games against Artest he shot 20-49 (40.8%) from the field but 9-21 (42.9%) from three, with 3.1 TO/game, 5.0 FT attempts per game, and a 16.3 ppg avg. He averaged 19.4 ppg in the past two seasons overall, while his assists were virtually the same vs Artest and the rest of the league. He clearly will have to work harder against Artest than he did vs Vlad Rad and Walton.

  • Korey

    zebulon,
    good point . Dang.

    That’s probably 90% correct.

    The only difference is that Ron Artest’s singular focus is to velcro Pierce whereas LeBron had much more responsibility on offense as well as weakside help on D.

    But when you have one game that doesnt care about anything else but annoying the heck out of you, its slightly different.

  • Korey

    *one guy that doesnt

  • lakers16th

    There are 2 huge differences this time for the Lakers, Bynum and Artest. While Bynum is not 100%, he won’t need to run like crazy to beat the celtics bigs back down court, that will relieve a lot of pressure on him. He’ll also be able to rise over the Celtics front court on high passes. I see Bynum having a huge impact on this series if he can stay out of foul trouble. Another big difference is that Gasol knows the triangle. he had 4 months of time in system last year. He and Kobe can play the triangle and the pick and roll to perfection. Chemistry is vital for a champion and this team has been together for a long time in NBA time, despite Artest only being here a year, a year is more than enough. I see Kobe covering Rondo, who is a poor shooter, Artest on Pierce and Fisher on Allen. Fisher proved he can work through the screens well against the Suns. This is going to be a great series.

  • http://celticshub.com Dee

    This is to Korey regarding the Artest / Pierce matchup… Pierce battled a much better defender in LeBron James (quicker, faster, bigger equally if not stronger)in the second round and the Celtics won in six. Your argument doesn’t hold water as the beauty of the C’s offense is there are multiple players who can step up.

  • Korey

    Dee,
    I understand what you are saying, but you are trying to correlate a single event to why the Celtics won vs. the Cavs and why the Celtics will win vs the Lakers.

    LBJ is a better defender than Artest…FACT.

    LBJ’s had 10x more responsibility than guarding Pierce…FACT. So while LBJ did guard Pierce, he also had to drop 30, get 10 boards, get 10 assists, and also block shots on fast breaks and in weakside help. Did I mention LBJ had to go guard Rajon Rondo too?

    So Pierce was able to get relief from LBJ quite frequently. No one man can do all those well.

    So this is totally different still. Artest need not score, rebound, pass, do anything except annoy the hell outta Pierce. That’s it. Ask Carmelo Anthony and Durant how that felt like. This isnt a matchup where Artest is going tit/tat with Pierce. it’s 100% defensive energy on one guy.

    And the reason its important is that Gasol/KG cancel out, Kobe is unstoppable, Rondo can be unstoppable, but having Pierce go off consitently (like in 2008) would be the tipping point.

    Tip… no …more!

  • Jay P

    @Korey

    You’re right in that LBJ had to do more than guard Pierce. But you’re forgetting the fact that Pierce, while trying to score on LBJ, then had to turn around and go guard him on the other end.

    Huge, monumental, exhausting task.

    So while Artest’s only focus is to stop Pierce, and he doesn’t have to expend any energy carrying the teams offense as well (like LBJ did) well, Paul doesn’t have to expend any energy stopping Artest’s offense either. So that makes him ever harder to stop.

    It goes both ways ya know.

  • John

    Artest appears to like defending players by sticking his hand in front of the shooter’s eyes. Bet Pierce has been watching film and will figure out a way to move his head to turn that into a foul.

  • t4inc

    Wait… you quoted Charley Rosen, the guy who has a man-crush on Phil Jackson and who, in 2004 (allegedly at the bequest of Phil Jackson) took it upon himself to blitz Kobe as a selfish, egotistical player?

    That is the same Rosen who said Lebron wasn’t any good going into the league?

    Well… if that’s the case: it’s great that he picked the Lakers, then! That means they won’t win. He’s like the living contrarian indicator of basketball!

  • mitch

    When the c’s win, none of these laker fan “annalysist” will be back at this hub ever again

  • joe

    ‘Kobe is unstoppable’

    ayo @korey got some reading for u http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_NBA_Finals

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