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 Howard. Kendrick 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.