There has been a lot of blame thrown around around after the game 1 debacle amongst Celtics fans, much of it warranted. KG couldn’t hang with Gasol. The C’s offense couldn’t get into a rhythm. The C’s rebounding was abysmal. The hustle and effort weren’t there. Bad Tony made a cameo. The list goes on and on. Yet, there remains one problem that I’ve seen no one touch on yet. The Celtics couldn’t hit a layup, if their life depending on it last night.
Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the numbers are alarming. For some perspective, let’s get some regular season numbers out of the way, to set some expectations for both teams going in, thanks to our friends over at HoopData
Regular Season At The Rim Numbers:
Celtics: 64.4% (2nd) 26 attempts/game
Defending The Rim
Lakers: 59.8% (10th) 26.9 attempts/game
So we have an elite scoring team around the basket, going up against an above average defensive team at the rim. Knowing the Lakers length in their big men, a dropoff in the C’s percentage this series woul have to be expected.
In fact, Tom Haberstroh, also of Hoopdata did a piece recently for ESPN, chronicling the C’s struggles against elite defensive teams at the rim. Boston shoots just 58.5% at the rim against those top teams.
Still, I don’t think anyone could predicated a performance around the bucket, as bad as the Celtics had last night, where they went a whopping 12 for 27 around the basket, for an atrocious 44.5 FG percentage at the rim.
For a sense of perspective, the worst team in the NBA this year, shot 56.3% at the bucket and the league average for that region of the floor is 61%. That makes the C’s night at the rack, easily one of their worst performances of the season. So who were the perpetratiors in this debacle? I name names, after the jump
These names won’t shock you, as they bare the brunt of responsibility for the poor effort in game 1. Still, they deserve some blame. Here are their game 1 numbers at the rim:
Kevin Garnett 2/6 (season average 65%)
Tony Allen 1/3 (season average 64%)
Rajon Rondo 1/6 (season average 65%)
The guy who has gotten the most attention from this effort has been KG, who missed two point blank shots in the fourth quarter. It was a tough night for The Big Ticket all around, pure and simple. I expect him to rebound, but he will struggle against the length of Gasol all series long.
The guys I am more worried about though are Rondo and TA. Rondo looked tenative last night around the bucket, and his poor shooting percentage seemed to lead to him making the unnecessary extra pass at the hoop when he had an opening to take the shot. That kind of passiveness plays right into the Lakers hands when guarding him, but it’s clear the Lakers length up front will be giving Rondo (as well as TA) problems all series long.
While both guys have been more consistent than ever this year, they can still show signs of being flustered around the basket when they struggle. The C’s can’t afford them to go into a slump in this series, they need offense from both parties. The good news is, the numbers probably can’t get any worse going forward on the offensive end from close in. Then again, the C’s probably can’t expect Rondo to make 3 out of 5 jumpers from outside 16 feet every night going forward either.
The C’s are at their best when they attack the bucket, they just need to make sure they finish the job.