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Final Saturday Notebook: Phil’s Words, Sheed’s Tech, TA’s D

 

• Hey, do you think Phil Jackson might not really like the way this Celtics team plays? Here’s Jackson in the Globe:

“Yeah, you can be provocative and get out there and act kind of like they do if you want to and get in people’s faces and do that,’’ Jackson said. “But that’s not the way I like to coach a team. That’s not what I consider positive coaching, and that’s what I like to think is the right way to do things.’’

This isn’t Jackson’s first shot at the C’s style of play. Jackson prefers something of a beautiful game, and the combination of the triangle and a group of big men who pass willingly produces the style of hoops Jackson prefers. 

The Celtics don’t play quite as beautiful a game, but I think Jackson sells them short a bit in this regard. Rajon Rondo has a stylish transition game, and the C’s half court offense, when it’s working, is predicated on all sorts of off-the-ball screening and movement and nice interior passing. It’s not as if the Celtics are the Hawks, you know? 

• Marc Spears at Yahoo! checks in on the C’s battle to contain Kobe Bryant and gets Rondo to give a simple, accurate explanation of how Boston is guarding Kobe:

“When he is driving, [Kendrick Perkins] and Kevin [Garnett] are going to step up, making him see defenders.” “On the wing, guys like myself and Paul Pierce are going to shrink the floor and make him see four guys on the gaps and the elbows.”

Kobe has his own explanation for his game-high seven turnovers in Game 4:

“That’s just me playing like crap,” Bryant said.

Note: Kobe is talking only about the turnovers there. He ranked the C’s defense “right up there with the best of them,” Spears reports, and he has praised Tony Allen specifically during this series. 

• And that praise is justified, according to Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com, who offers up some interesting numbers on the TA/Kobe match-up:

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bryant is now just 5-for-19 (26.6 percent) in the Finals with Tony Allen as the Celtics’ primary defender on him. 

And:

Even when he doesn’t cause Bryant to miss a shot, he deters him from even taking one. In the 73 possessions that [Tony] Allen has guarded him this series, Kobe has touched the ball 79.5 percent of the time. In the 234 possessions when it’s been somebody other than [Tony] Allen checking Kobe, Bryant has touched the ball 88 percent of the time.

Phil Jackson adds this:

“I think he steps on his right really well, makes him go left and keeps on the floor instead of getting up [in the air] on the pump fakes,” Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. “He does a good job of that.”

Jackson nails it here. When I watch TA guarding Kobe, my first reaction is that TA is crowding Kobe too much. He sets up just to Kobe’s right and gets himself nearly chest-to-shoulder with Kobe, and he just looks so vulnerable to a Kobe blow-by going left. And he is—sort of. When Kobe goes left decisively, he can certainly get a half-step on TA right away. But the key, so far, is this: TA is strong and quick enough to prevent that half-step from being a full step, which would be enough for Kobe to turn the corner, get into the paint and draw the defense. 

Instead, Kobe often ends up taking a pull-up jumper from the left wing as TA recovers to contest the shot. And that’s exactly the shot the Celtics want Kobe to take in that situation. If he does get by TA and turn the corner—or at least approximate turning the corner—at least one Boston defender is there to swarm Kobe and keep him from the rim. This forces a pass a tricky 10-footer against tough defense. 

The C’s are willing to live with that scenario, too. They can’t live with the open jumper in the flow or the easy blow-by into the paint. Ray Allen has been susceptible to the latter. 

One thing I’d expect Kobe to try: Go left, fake the pull-up jumper and try to cross TA up with a hard dribble to the right. Be ever vigilant, Tony. 

• As expected, Sheed’s 4th-quarter tech—his 6th of the post-season—will not be rescinded, the Herald reports. He remains one away from a suspension. I wonder: Could Sheed play with the same muzzling device the cops used on the gimp? I don’t think that would effect his mobility or his shooting stroke. 

• Doc Rivers thinks Rajon Rondo may have taken the first step in getting over his recent free throw problems during Game 4 (via the Globe): 

“I thought in Game 3 when he missed a couple, he stopped driving, and that’s what happens when you miss free throws and then you don’t want to get fouled anymore,’’ Rivers said yesterday. “I thought [Thursday] night he kept taking it to the basket, and for me that was huge.’’

And the problem (of course!) is mechanical, not mental:

[It’s] nothing that he can’t be taught, I can tell you that. He fell away. His elbow was out. The first one [Thursday night] you could see it right away. So we’ll get it back.’’

Cedric Maxwell to Bill Plaschke:

“There was a time, if I saw a Laker on fire and I was holding a glass of water, I’d drink the water,” said Maxwell.

And:

“There was a time I couldn’t say the name ‘ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’ without throwing up,” Maxwell said.

• Doc on next season and the championship window (via Chris Forsberg at ESPNBoston.com):

“I think, hopefully, we sign Ray back. I think I can say that; if not, I just got fined. I think Kevin is going to be better next year because of a year away from surgery … So we don’t think that [the window is closing]. I think everyone outside of us, a lot of people do.”

I have a hunch that people are over-estimating the market for Ray Allen. I’ll leave it at that until the off-season. 

• Darius Soriano at Forum Blue & Gold discusses what the Lakers might do if Andrew Bynum is a no-go on Sunday. Among the possibilities Darius mentions: 1) Some playing time for long-lost big men D.J. Mbenga and Josh Powell; 2) Using Ron Artest at the power forward spot to defend Big Baby.

Interesting. You’d think that Artest could only really defend Big Baby if the Lakers went small and pushed Odom to the bench, but I suppose it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Odom could shift to the three on defense and do a semi-credible job on Paul Pierce (or whichever player at at the three at the time) for a few possessions. 

But at that point, we’d be talking about a ton of cross-matching both ways. 

• Phil Jackson also mentioned the possibility of Mbenga and Powell seeing minutes (via the Globe):

“Sometimes a guy hasn’t played in a while and you’ll look in there and it may be kind of vacant in there, a wake-up type of thing,’’ Jackson said. “But I do check every game or so to see if these guys are still on beam. D.J. has lost a little bit in the process of not playing, and he needs that. But Josh Powell is ready to play.’’

I love the way Jackson talks about his players. Honest and candid without being insulting.

• At NBA Playbook, Sebasitian Pruiti shows (with video, of course) how the C’s Bench Plus Ray unit used superior off-the-ball movement to create decent looks against LA’s defense in Game 4. This illustrates a theme we’ve come back to all season here: The C’s cannot afford to get away from their principals on offense. The veterans aren’t as efficient in isolation as they once were, and Rajon Rondo remains hit-or-miss as a finisher, particularly against elite teams. They must treat every possession with care.

Pruiti also nicely sums up Baby’s occasional problems finishing at the rim:

Against two bigs, Glen Davis isn’t all that effective (he out-muscles one, but the other big man gets the block).  Against one, he can use his body to get the ball up on the rim.

Lamar Odom does not appear to be the sort of big that bothers Glen Davis. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol represent precisely the type of player pair that can squelch Baby’s inside scoring.

• Pruiti also has this post about Big Baby’s ability to finish at the rim in Game 4.

• On Friday, Doc discussed how Glen Davis and Nate Robinson have reacted to the pressure of the Finals (via the Herald):

“I think our young guys are loose,” Rivers said. “They’re extremely confident. Just watching (Glen Davis) and Nate (Robinson) in the postgame interview, you wouldn’t have thought that they were in a world championship the way they were acting. That’s just who they are. And sometimes that’s really good and sometimes it’s really bad. But when you’re down, I think it’s good because they don’t care. They’re just going to play anyway, and that’s a good thing.”

I’ve been joking among friends that I’m not sure Nate Robinson actually realizes this is the NBA Finals. The downside of such looseness, of course, is the occasional pull-up 20-footer when the offense should be reset and the sort of taunting that can lead to a technical foul. That must be cleaned up going forward.

• Our own Brian Robb, who is in Boston, had the pleasure of interviewing Julius Erving for TrueHoop. I urge you to read the full interview—Dr. J talks a lot about Boston and this Finals series—but here’s an interesting excerpt:

The emphasis on the Celtics establishing the low-post game and getting Kevin Garnett going in Game 3 also hurt their offense in my opinion and swung the momentum. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce struggled shooting because they were the second and third options on those plays. They looked nothing like Game 2, when they were moving the ball around and finding the open man. Instead they were intent on establishing Kevin, and they did it, but in establishing him, it took them away from what they needed to be doing on offense. 

• The ratings for the Finals have been killer—the best since ’04—which is obviously proof that the NBA has fixed the playoffs so the Celtics would face the Lakers in the Finals. 

On that note, enjoy the World Cup today. U-S-A!

  • Devon

    Great post Zach, “Could Sheed play with the same muzzling device the cops used on the gimp? I don’t think that would effect his mobility or his shooting stroke.” (Nearly peed my pants)

  • Korey

    Zach,

    I think you dont somewhat indirectly say what the source of TA’s success against Kobe is and that is “help defense”:
    “If he does get by TA and turn the corner—or at least approximate turning the corner—at least one Boston defender is there to swarm Kobe and keep him from the rim. This forces a pass a tricky 10-footer against tough defense. ”

    The story hence is more about Ray Allens lack of defense more than it is about Tony Allen’s “great D”. Any warm body with decent athleticism can follow Kobe around get shook up and try to contest shots. He can guard chest to chest because he knows he has help. Ray Allen is so BAD at D he cant stay close enough so that his help D can help.

    Can Kobe get by Tony Allen ? Of course, you admit that. Why is he taking pull up jumpers? Like you say, Because the Celtics bigs and help defenders are *closing* that gap allowing Tony Allen to recover while Kobe shoots the J.

    Why does Tony Allen get so much credit for that? He follows the game plan, but him individually isnt the reason Kobe is not going off going off, he’s just doing his regular drop 30 points things.

    Tony Allen is no better defender then Jared Dudley or Grant Hill. The difference is that once Kobe shakes the bejesus outta Tony Allen there is more traffic to navigate through and particularly BIGS w/length to go through whereas in PHX you shake up Robin Lopez or Channing Frye.

    I LOVE it when people given a OK defender this stopper level. It shows a lack of understanding of the game (not saying you did this Zach).

    Tony Allen is OK. But give props to the help D, not TA.

    Or risk Kobe getting mad to prove a point and lighting the *heck* outta Tony Allen next time out. Just saying…

  • pilgrimtraveller

    korey, your presumption in kor-recting zach is laughable. neither zach, nor any sentient celtics fan (of which there are many, by the way), would claim that tony allen is individually responsible for defending kobe. implicit in any discussion of tony allen’s manifest success guarding kobe is the fact that tony plays within a team defensive scheme. zach is arguing that the celtics defend kobe better when tony allen is the primary defender than when ray allen is the primary defender. indeed, with tony as primary defender, the celtics effectively neutralized bryant in the fourth quarter of the fourth game. and i believe that had tony not been kicked in the throat and taken out of the third game, the outcome of that game may well have been different. of course, injuries are part of the game (as lakers fans are realizing to their chagrin as they contemplate bynum’s injury-induced fall from effectiveness). while my position that a foul should have been charged to kobe for the (unintentional) kick is a minority position, even among celtics fans, i call to your attention the fact that david stern announced the nba is examining that play. i won’t be surprised to see rules changed soon regarding such plays. it was a game changer.

    you should remember that intelligent celtics fans revel in their team play. we regard it as a fact so blindingly obvious so as not to require constant restatement that any individual celtics accomplishment was made possible by team play. and that’s why many of us don’t like kobe, despite the obvious fact that he is a transcendently gifted athlete and one of the best basketball players playing today—indeed he may be the best. but he still thinks he can beat his opponent more or less single-handedly. he has yet to recognize what jordan recognized as he matured, that he may have to sacrifice his individual stats to achieve team wins, that he may have to help much lesser players play better. i love it when kobe goes into hero mode. no, tony allen can’t stop him then, and the celtics can’t stop him then, but we can and will stop the lakers then.

  • pilgrimtraveller

    korey, here’s a quotation from doc rivers that was published in today’s boston globe: “It’s a team effort is what I hope all of our guys are saying, and it really is,’’ Rivers said. “You know, Tony, I got on him I don’t know what game it was, we were talking and he has to be in some ways our [Ron] Artest. That doesn’t mean you’re going to stop anybody. There’s nobody, by the way, that’s stopping Kobe Bryant. If it is, I haven’t met him, or it, because I don’t think it would be a person.’’

  • Truth

    This is how you handle the C’s monkey play….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnFsXfnMxao&NR=1

  • JMM

    Korey,

    Isn’t there a Laker’s blog for you to defile with your drivel?

  • Jay P

    Lol @Truth

    Haters just keep on hating, call it physical, call it dirty, call it whatever you want, just don’t say it’s not effective.

    Phil, you can play whatever style you want, we’ll play Celtics basketball. Dirty, gritty, tough. Step up and show a spine or watch your championship slip away.

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

    @Korey: you saw the part where I quote Rondo about how the C’s help on drives and shrink the floor, right? how defending Kobe involves all five players? Or did you not see that?

  • Korey

    @Zach

    The first line in my post, I actually changed and messed up.

    It should say:
    “I think you somewhat indirectly say … ”

    instead of

    “I think you DONT indirectly say”

  • Korey

    @pilgrim

    #1 I didnt say a “Celtic fan” gave tony allen that much credit.
    “I LOVE it when people given a OK defender this stopper level. ”

    The culprit in this case was Dave McMenamin writing a whole article for ESPNLA about Tony Allen.

    As if advanced statistics really say that Tony Allen was really responsible for Kobe’s 4-19 or whatever when Allen was guarding him.

    A better theory is that the help defense may be more on alert when Tony’s gguarding Kobe. Or whatever. The point is just that people get way too worked up with this defensive stopper story.

    Ron Artest isnt stopping Paul Pierce.
    Kobe isnt stopping Rondo.
    tony Allen is stopping Kobe.
    And KG for dang sure aint stopping Gasol!

    #2 your name makes no sense. Where are the pilgrims? And why are they traveling

  • Korey

    @JMM

    Yea there is a LakerBlog. And I’m on there too.

    screen name: mistaceo.

    I’m still waiting for you to say something remotely intelligent on this Celtics blog, because your representation of a Boston sports fan is a word less than embarrassing…

    Try PATHETIC.

  • Korey

    @pilgrim

    Everything I say isnt some attack on what Celtics fans think.

    Lighten up young fella’ and just read, listen, and debate.

    I was ranting on the concept of “Tony Allen” defensive stopper.

    The quote you give from Doc Rivers is irrelevant. A Better quote is one where he remarks “oh you trying to set Tony up…” or something to that effect.

    At no point did I remark that Celtics fans though that Tony Allen was some all-nba defender ALTHOUGH I do have comments directed toward me on this very blog stating Tony Allen’s defense as part of his worth to the team and suggesting he would bother Kobe and do all this/that. But I’m not even going there.

    bottom line: Read the post. Debate the post. but i’m not saying every Celtic fan thinks this or that. That’s juvenile. I’m debating basketball topics.

    And this Tony Allen thing WILL get blown up and showcased on ABC tomorrow when he comes in the game and it will make me sick. Oh well.

  • Korey

    And finally pilgrim…

    You dont like Kobe going into hero mode…
    but you like when Paul Pierce goes into hero mode? You liked that Game 4 v. Orlando?

    …oh you only like it when it works out?!

    Stop it. The selfish, individual, stats talk about Kobe for a guy is has played the last few seasons with countless injuries (dont injuries affect your stats?) is silly.

    Championships is the name of the game and if you watched Kobe’s games, assist totals, and effort during every game you would know that.

    Kobe will do anything to win including jack up every shot if necessary.

    One of Hollinger’s top 10 games of all time is a Jordan 15-35 “masterpiece”.

    The basketball nation’s altered view of Jordan is hilarious. yes, he’s the G.O.A.T. But that doesnt mean everything he ever did was pristine and perfect. Although nobody remembers that, they just remember the chips. If / when, Kobe gets 5 or 6 chips, people will do the same and act like he never messed up.

    I guess pilgrim you are part of that revisionist crowd. Sad.

  • JMM

    Korey,

    There’s a difference between typing a lot and having something to say.

    As you have nothing to say, please either shut up or save your inane commentary for the Lakers’ blog where people appreciate that kind of crap.

  • stephen

    @Jmm—— Hmmm—Korey, perfect name for a Lakers fan. His brothers name is probably ”Chip”" or “”Biff”"

  • Korey

    I dont think “inane” will get you into Harvard JMM…

    Once again, still waiting for you to talk basketball.

    Obviously, your incapable of that. Oh well.

  • stephen

    @Korey—name the starting 5 for both the 1986-87 Lakers and Celtics.

  • stephen

    Yeah, I didn’t think you could.

  • stephen

    Oh, and if you take long to answer then I’ll know your rushing to crack open your sports almanac or you weren’t around yet.

  • mitch

    korey is such a loser, it’s actually pretty laughable. Pity he doesn’t spew his bullshit in the blue and gold forum
    go c’s!

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Korey definitely has a fixation on TA. He is hyper sensitive to TA getting any praise or credit—even from Phil or Kobe. Korey, just let it go….TA is a great defender & when the entire Celtics team plays defense with the same intensity as TA, they win. We like TA’s D no matter what you say so get over it & move on to your next target.

    On the flip side, we don’t want TA to shoot any jumpers. Just slash or pass TA. Thanks TA for all of your hard work & tremendous effort on D. We loves it. Gimme some mo’

  • stephen

    @Mitch—I think Korey comes on here to get some actual basketball education. He isn’t going to get it by going on to the blue and gold forum. Other posters like Dustin Hoffman and Sylvester Stallone really don’t know very much!!!!

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