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Tuesday Morning Notebook: TA’s Future, Mindsets, Bring the D

 

A brief smattering of C’s news to start your day:

• Tony Allen would like to re-sign in Boston after this season, when he becomes a free agent, according to WEEI.com:

“I am a Celtic,” he told WEEI.com. “I love being a Celtic. It’d mean everything in the world [return next season].”

So: What is Tony Allen worth? When he’s healthy, it’s clear that he has evolved into a potential defensive stopper you can throw at elite shooting guards and the occasional small forward. He has given Kobe Bryant more problems than any individual Celtic defender, though of course limiting Kobe involves all five players on the court.

But he remains an offensive liability. He still can’t shoot jumpers, he’s still unsure of himself as a ball-handler (his turnover rate this season is about what it has been through his career) and the team’s offense this season scored about five fewer points per 100 possessions with TA on the floor versus with him on the bench, according to Basketball-Value numbers for the regular season and playoffs.

But the team’s defense gets better with TA on the floor, and some numbers from this series show how valuable TA can be in this system.

• Chris Forsberg at ESPNBoston.com  has some numbers on TA:

[Tony] Allen guarded Bryant for only 15 possessions Sunday, but the Lakers’ star was only 1-of-5 shooting (20 percent) for two points during that span. Against all other defenders, Bryant finished with 36 points on 54.5 percent shooting over 60 possessions.

For the series, Bryant is 6-of-24 (25 percent) when defended by Allen.

Doc on TA:

“Tony, I got on him — I don’t know what game it was — but I just, basically, we were talking, and he has to be in some ways our Artest,” said Rivers. “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.

“But Tony’s job is to come in, and his main focus is defense.”

• Forsberg has some other numbers that show what a shooting anomaly Game 5 was:

Boston’s offense finished 15-of-16 shooting (93.8 percent) within 5 feet when Bynum was on the court and 17-of-23 overall (73.9 percent). Over the first four games of the series, Boston was shooting just 50.6 percent around the basket.

And Pierce’s isolation game has also taken off in the series, especially in Game 5. Some numbers (via Forsberg, again):

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Pierce averaged only 0.86 points per play while shooting 36.9 percent off isolation plays this postseason.

And:

Pierce’s ISO production has spiked in the Finals, highlighted as he scored eight points off seven isolation plays (1.14 points per play) in Game 5.

Pierce is averaging 1.04 points per play, while shooting 45 percent this series.

Can that last?

The Celtics will not shoot 94 percent on at-the-rim shots with Bynum on the floor again. You can book that. Their shooting percentage on two-pointers was outrageous in Game 5 and likely can’t be duplicated. They will need to compensate by doing a couple of other things: 1) Limiting turnovers; 2) Hitting a few threes.

• Ray Allen with the goose bump quote of the day in the Herald:

“When we started the season they picked us to make the Finals, and they forgot us along the way,” Allen said. “But here we are, capable. The tougher it is, the better we become. The beautiful thing about this whole situation is that we never had homecourt advantage except for the first round.”

And:

“You have that tendency to look ahead,” Allen said. “I’m sure a lot of people are thinking about what’s on our mind, but you have to mentally block it out. All day tomorrow you have to think about what you need to do, and how you need to rest – the small things you need to do to start the game off.”

“The moment you look up, you’ll be in that moment. But you have to work for it. To achieve that moment that we want, it’s going to take everybody to do the things they do.

“We can’t leave any stone unturned and we can’t take shortcuts,” Allen said. “When our opportunity comes, we’ll be standing right there, and we’ll have our moment.”

• At NBC’s outstanding NBA blog Pro Basketball Talk, John Krolik examines whether LA’s offensive problems—and an over-reliance on Kobe of late—stem from Boston’s defense or from a failure of execution on LA’s part.

  • JayAllDay

    Good article, in my opinion, the celtics best is equal to or greater than the lakers best. Not talking about any individual player but if you look at the ways the celtics have won games this series ( bench in game 4, Ray and Rondo in game 2, Pierce in game 5, and defense every game) it would be nearly impossible for the lakers to win if my c’s are clicking on all levels, which i think they will.

  • Jay P

    @JayAllDay

    Ya, ironically, as close to the “all-team effort” we’ve been waiting for that Game 5 was, it was still done without Ray Allen for the most part. We have still yet to see a game where all of the Big 4 are effective.

    I don’t expect Paul to hit his mid-range game at Game 5 levels for two more games. But if Ray can get anything to fall at all, it will easily balance out a few missed shots from Paul. If both players move back to the mean shooting, KG stays aggressive, and Rondo continues to attack, the Celtics will win. If Ray continues to struggle, or we see the Game 1/2 KG (tentative, backing away) we’ll be in trouble, as I don’t think you can expect Paul to carry another game, it’s unrealistic to expect him to shoot 60%+ from mid-range.

    Unrelated referee talk:

    Tonight’s referee assignments: Monty McCutchen, Joe DeRosa, and Ken Mauer.

    I’m oddly optimistic about this crew, there’s no Salvatores, or Rush’s there and no name really jumps out at you as a major issue. That kinda scares me…

  • Coolin

    @ Jay P: Pierce is going big tonight and Ray will finally awake from his offensive struggles by hitting a few three’s. I am more worried about Garnett and him going back to his first two games performances, that can’t happen and I expect Rondo to be very good tonight because he is due a stellar game.

    As for Tony Allen and what he is worth, shoot I wouldn’t give him a penny more. He is atrocious at shooting the ball and he even has a hard time making lay ups. The only thing he is good at is defense. He could significantly make more money if he used his brain out on the court (i.e. never dribbling the ball unless it is on a breakaway, or passing the ball more just to name a few).

  • Jay P

    @Coolin

    I hope you’re right, but I just don’t we can really expect Paul to shoot the same %. That being said, I don’t expect Kobe to hit those kinda shots again either, %s for both players say they just can’t keep going in consistently.

    Other plays on both teams are going to have to step up in Game 6. Ray for Boston, and Pau for LA have to be huge for either team to win.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    artest got b*tch-slapped by kobe in game5 when he called out that he wanted to guard pierce right in front of artest and the entire team and coaching staff. i mean, thats artest’s only job and he always blabs on about being the team leader on defense and crap.

    ron-ron will be psyched up for tonight and very physical with truth. also will get the benefit of the officials on the homecourt. should be a great matchup to watch tonight…..

  • Zain

    @Jay P

    McCutchen and Mauer reffed game 2.

    DeRosa reffed game 1.

    Hopefully they won’t call as many fouls to put us in foul trouble as they did back then.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    one interesting part of TAs progression this playoffs is he seems to get less touch fouls called on him against superstars. its like he’s earned the officials repsect on that front, and thats a HUGE part of becoming a true stopper in the league.

    example: marquis daniels is the opposite end of the spectrum. he gets fouls for breathing on stars. made him totally ineffective in the stopper role all year.

  • sam

    I think you’re overstating the flukiness of Boston’s accuracy. That was more a result of poor Laker defense than hot shooting. Most of the Celtics at-rim shots were very weakly contested if at all.

    I think Bynum’s lack of mobility played a large part in this. Perk got a shot over him for what seemed like the first time in this series, he was laboring on pretty much every contest, his pick and roll coverage was slow and he was unable to adjust to the offensive player’s adjustments (e.g. KG’s leaning lay-up off the 3/4 pick and roll).

    If Bynum’s knee feels and moves better and the Lakers improve their rotations, we might be in trouble at the rim again, but I don’t consider that a matter of coming back to earth, more like the Lakers waking up.

    Regarding TA, the one shot that Kobe made against him last night was incredibly tough: TA gave him zero space behind the 3-pt line, Kobe drove left, and took a leaning fadeaway from 18 feet with TA about an inch away from a block. TA has had an amazing defensive run in these playoffs. I don’t think there are 3 tougher covers in the NBA than Wade, Bron and Kobe and TA’s had a few moments when he not only contained them, but smothered them (moreso Bron and Kobe than Wade).

  • I love Green

    We gotta win this game tonight. I don’t feel like dealing with a game 7 in LA. Lets hope Paul stays hot, KG continues to play well on defense, Rondo’s turnovers stay low, and Ray steps up. We’re going to need a few 3s from Ray tonight, not 8 like in game two, but 3 or 4 would definitley help.

  • steve

    I’m predicting Artest to do something crazy like the Pierce take down in game 1. I give it less than two minutes into the game.
    I hope the C’s keep their heads tonight if the Lakers try to be physical again. Just play your game and play the stellar D.

  • Derrick

    Good point koolaid.

    TA needs to work on 3 things, 2 of which should be easily improved.

    1. Dribbling How in the world can a 2 guard be so bad at dribbling. Many times you watch him drive the lane and see the ball get stripped. But then you watch the replay and you’re like noone even touched the ball, he just lost it.

    2. Passing Maybe you can say he has bad hand/eye coordination, but his inabilily to hit a moving target makes Jamarcus Russell look like a Pro-bowler

    3. Baseline 3 pointer With Tony basically standing on the baseline the entire possession, he needs to be able to knock down that shot (think Bruce Bowen)

    The celtics need this guy on the floor, especially against the teams Boston has faced this year.

  • Jay P

    TA will not be a shooter, not any time soon. He needs a complete re-work of his mechanics to make that possible.

    I believe he has the work ethic and with the right shooting coach (calling Mark Price, come in Mark Price) it’s possible, but don’t expect it anytime soon.

    To me, TA’s made progress, his play making ability, and defensive ability cannot be under valued. If he continues to progress at the rate he has this year, we can’t expect a lot from him going forward, and I believe he has the work ethic to make it happen and make himself a valuable 6-man in this league.

    He absolutely should be resigned, if they money is right, and his comments tell me he will accept a team friendly deal. There’s a lot of upside to Tony, and as long as he’s willing to accept 1-2 years for reasonable money, there’s very little downside there either.

  • Jay P

    “we can’t expect a lot from him going forward,”

    This was suppose to say we CAN expect a lot.

  • http://www.hotmail.com Josh

    Predictions:
    -Celtics win tonite and hoist Larry #18.
    -Rondo has a great game and earns MVP honors.
    -Kobe grabs Bynum after the game & literally throws him under the bus.
    Big Baby breaks his thumb (again) early in the 4th on a dunk attempt.
    -Nate Robinson will hoist an ill-advised 3 point attempt.

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