On Tap: The Boston Celtics

Kurt —  March 20, 2006

Not the usual format today, but that’s due to other stuff crowding blogging time.

Collapse: First, let’s talk — as some of you have been doing in the comments below — about that loss to Cleveland. I certainly didn’t love that last shot, but the problem was that it ever came down to that last shot.

After a good start to the fourth quarter that kept the Lakers up comfortably in the double digits, things went south when the Cavs subbed back in Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Flip Murray and Phil Jackson countered with Kwame Brown, taking out Bynum. Bynum actually led the Lakers in +/- at +13 for the game, but that was because he only played a few minutes against Ilgauskas (and was -3 in that stint). Still, I might have given him another chance as Brown (-16 for the game) was not doing much better.

When the Cav’s starters came back in rested, the Lakers had no way to match that energy. Kobe never left the court in the second half, and Odom did for less than a minute, while they both put up good numbers for the game they couldn’t drive the offense late. The Lakers shot 29% in the fourth quarter, 33% in the third. Meanwhile, on the other end, the Cavs shot 56% in the fourth. The Lakers lacked the energy to get key stops (as they had earlier in the game) or consistently hit key shots. Cleveland is not a very deep team, but the Lakers are even thinner and it showed.

Now, the last shot — yes, ideally he should have passed it. But Kobe only tends to pass those shots when he gets penetration — remember the end of the New Jersey game, with about 30 seconds to go Kobe got inside then hit Smush for the open three. When he can’t get inside he wants to elevate and shoot. Yes, he should look for the open guy, but the time has come for Phil to run Kobe as a decoy out of this late play and let Odom take the last shot. Or someone else.

It has come to typify the Lakers’ season, needing Kobe to hit a three-point fadeaway over two or three defenders to get the win.

The Celtics again: Boston is 3.5 back in the playoff chase and have about a 6.1% chance of making the playoffs. Jeff at Celtics Blog is trying to pump up the base, but they need to go on run if they are going to make it.

Paul Pierce is doing his part, in the last 10 games he is shooting 52.3% (eFG%) with a true shooting percentage of 57.9% (think of TS% this way: if you scored two points every time you shot the ball, your TS% would be 100%. The league average is closer to 52%.). Old Laker nemesis Wally Szczerbiak and the less known but good Ryan Gomes have been playing well of late as well.

When these two played in February it was an entertaining game, but the Lakers lost a close one at the end. Shocking, I know. Pierce had 39 but you know he was going to get his, the damage came from the supporting cast. Delonte West had 19 and was a team-best +11, Gomes also had 19.

Reason I think the Lakes can win: Just one really, they are 34-34. Every time they fall to .500 they find a way to win and stay above the mark.