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Is it that easy to guard Dwight Howard?

 

Yesterday’s Daily Dime over at ESPN had a couple of must reads for Celtics’ fan.  One is a long exposé by Jackie MacMullan where the veteran Boston reporter gives detailed information and analysis on Danny Ainge’s style as a GM.  Apparently he does not shy away from making any big trades that might anger the Boston faithful.  Not exactly something we didn’t already know but MacMullan makes it interesting nonetheless.

MacMullan’s piece was great, but the Dime piece that piqued my interest was John Hollinger’s analysis of the new Dwight Howard stopper:  Jason Collins.  As soon as I started reading this, I thought to myself, “really?”  It can’t be that easy to guard Dwight HowardKendrick Perkins has essentially made his career on being the one guy in the NBA that can actually effectively guard Dwight Howard one on one.  So now we can assume that Jason Collins is as good at guarding Howard as Perkins?  Seriously, if that were the case than Ainge has even more firepower to throw at the trade detractors.

No one is making any of these illogical leaps other than me and mine are of course more tongue and cheek than anything else (I don’t need to tell you how good Kendrick Perkins is).  But still, Hollinger does break down the ways Collins found success in guarding the NBA’s best big man in the Hawks win the other night.  And you’ll be happy to know that what Hollinger found can be easily replicated by a healthy* Celtics’ front line:

Here’s an example of something Collins did the other night to stop Howard that just screams of Glen “Big Baby” Davis:

“Collins started all four meetings this season, and the Hawks held Orlando to an average of 82.5 points in those games. The key was not just that he limited Howard’s points and periodically got him out of the game entirely with his penchant for drawing charging fouls, but that his single coverage took away Orlando’s 3-point game. Orlando made only 19 of 84 3-point attempts in the four meetings; that’s obviously a lower rate of accuracy than the Magic’s norm, but perhaps more notably a lower frequency of attempts.”

And doesn’t this sound like something Shaquille O’Neal could take care of with little or no adjustment period?

“Collins did one other thing as well that had Howard and the Magic upset — when Howard got a clear look, Collins fouled him. HARD. A neck-tie by Collins in the second quarter had Howard particularly vexed, especially in the wake of the near-scandalous officiating at the end of Monday’s loss to the Knicks. Amazingly, Howard has not had an opponent called for a flagrant foul the entire season.”

And here’s Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy on Collins defense against Howard:

“That’s the best defense on [Howard] on all year,” Van Gundy said. “[Collins] did a great job. [Howard] missed a couple of good shots against Horford, but against Collins he didn’t even get many good shots. I thought he did a great job on him.  He’s big, he’s physical, he doesn’t give him many angles to the basket, he doesn’t give him anything easy, and Dwight had trouble just getting good, on-balance shots.”

Doesn’t this sound exactly like what Van Gundy has  been saying about Perkins for the last few years.

Dwight Howard has diversified his offensive game this year enough that no one can really shut him down.  You chest him up, he drives by you.  You give him space, he has a reliable (enough) banker.  But the point is that what Collins did last night has been the game plan for Howard’s entire career.  Some teams just have the personnel to get it done and some don’t.  I believe the Celtics have that personnel even without Perkins.

What do ya’ll think?  Do the Celtics have enough without Kendrick Perkins to stop Howard?  Are you more worried about Andrew Bynum should the Celtics and Lakers meet in the Finals again?

*Always, always, always the caveat.

  • Rich

    @Berkcelt What do you mean? The Cs did a pretty good job against Howard on that Christmas game.

    Yes, I think the O'neal brothers can get the job done if needed against the Magic. And I'm obviously more worried about the Lakers as a whole than any other team in the East.

    • Berkcelt

      From what I recall, Shaq got in foul trouble trying to guard Howard. I know there was a lot of complaining afterwards about Delaney picking on Shaq but I just remembered seeing a guy who had trouble staying with him. Howard also got in foul trouble so that helped mitigate the problem of having to deal with him. I usually like the job Baby does on Howard. I'm not overly concerned or anything, I just think Shaq in particular is a little slow for Howard.

  • srb

    Nobody on the team has the movement that Perk has, maybe Big Davis does but it doesn't matter because of his size so he's not going to be able to body up on him. That's not such a big concern though because the matchups at the other positions favor the Celtics.

    It's the Lakers clearly that we have to worry about, although I like Shaq on Bynum better than Shaq on Howard.

  • DBro

    Big Baby and the O'Neal Brothers will be able to handle Dwight, should the Celtics end up playing the Magic… Baby has already proven himself against Dwight in last year's playoffs. However, at this point the Celtics would face the Heat and the Bulls would face the Magic in the Conference Semifinals, and I think that the Bulls win that series in 5 games and go on to face the Cs in the Conference finals. The Lakers are the biggest threat if Bynum is healthy… Or perhaps we should be more worried about the Thunder with Perk playing well for them!

  • CG12

    Baby does a nice job against Howard. The biggest thing is to keep him from getting too close to the hoop, which Baby can do because of his agility, strength, and weight. Baby has problems with some taller guys who actually have touch, like Hibbert and Duncan. Howard has little touch, so he ends up clanking 8-foot hook shots off the glass. He has the sweeping hook going across the lane, the drop-step dunk, and now the 10-foot banker. That's it. He gets most of his points off transition and cleaning up the boards. Bynum worries me waaaay more than Howard. Howard is a chump.

  • rondeezy

    gotta worry about bynum let Dwight score 100 points a game the other magics suck. we can’t do that with Bynum tho cus there’s pau and kobe

  • james patrick

    WHAT'S THE LATEST WITH KRISNIC???

  • kricky

    Without Perk we need to throw different looks at him. I think he is still figuring things out offensively and can get confused when you do this. We have 3 guys and 18 fouls. KG needs to close out the perimeter on the shooters like Anderson, but can double team at times when they go with Bass at the 4. But we also have to clean up the boards. 2nd chance points have killed us all season.

    We can give up 30 to Howard and still win, as long as we clean up the defensive rebounds and stick with one on one so that shooters don't get open.

    At the other end, RR will be a tough draw for their small and slow PG, so we can clean up with that match-up.

  • ozcelts

    Lakers (Bynam kicked Chandler all over staples centre yesterday) worry be much more than the Magic who above anything else lack heart

  • Chris O

    No offense but I think this is moot anyways. We are not going to see Orlando in the playoffs. They may evven lose to ATL.

  • MMM

    you are an idiot.Shaq cannot guard howard. Howard is much more athletic.

    • Batman

      that means nothing whatsoever. everyone is more athletic than Shaq

  • skeeds

    offcourse I'm not worried more about Bynum than Howard, as a player. Bynum is too unreliable, has off games, and has underachiever written all over him.

    Howard on the other hand is the most perfect sample of human dna physically that I've ever seen, and unfortunately for us, has begun to get the grip of how ridiculously easy scoring should be for him. His defence I won't even talk about. All in all, he is a "gamechanger". A player whose skillset, physical attributes and the impact these have on the game define an era. Shaq, A.I., those are gamechangers, and Howard is too. Teams hunt for players who can guard him, even if it's the only thing they're good for.

    But I'm definately more worried about Bynum playing alongside Gasol and Kobe, than Howard and the Magic. The reasons are I think obvious, but they have little to do with Bynum's performance, and alot to do with teams being unable to control him plus the best scorer in the NBA and a top 5 power forward…

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