Let The Adjustments Begin

Darius Soriano —  June 5, 2010

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Basketball, like life, is about progression.  While there are valuable lessons to be learned from the past, the point is not to live on any past accomplishments or relive past failures, but to take the next step forward and improve on what’s happened. 

And this is where the Lakers are in this series with the Boston Celtics.  It’s obvious that the Lakers have learned and grown since their 2008 Finals defeat; game 1′s victory showed that fact over and over again.  The Lakers were able to get to the basket frequently, they were able to out muscle the team that many have said is stronger, they were able to out strategize and out execute the team that relies on such things to win their games.

But game 1′s effort and execution is yesterday’s news.  Just like the loss of 2008, it can be drawn on as experience and as a blueprint for what works and what doesn’t, but it can’t be used as anything more than that.  The only thing that is carried over from Thursday’s win is the result.  Boston will not come out defeated in the next contest just because the last one ended that way.  And if the Lakers expect to repeat in victory in game 2 (and as champions at the conclusion of this series), they’ll need to do more than just recall what worked, they’ll need to do what worked.  And they’ll need to compensate for what the Celtics will change, as changes are surely coming considering so much of what they tried in game 1 did not work. 

So, once again, we talk adjustments.   In an email exchange I had with Kwame A., he passed along some of things that he thinks the Celtics may try to implement in order to have a more successful game 2:

1st Adjustment: Pierce Defending Kobe. 
I think Pierce will get the bulk of the minutes on Kobe. Doc hopes this will have a two-fold effect. 

One-this will allow the Celts to contain Kobe on the perimeter more, forcing him into lower percentage shots, keeping him out of the lane, and not allowing him to create shots (or second shots) for teammates. 

Two-this will allow the Celts to keep the most important offensive weapon-Jesus Shuttlesworth-out of foul trouble, and available to take Fish and Sasha on the maze of screens he enjoys coming off of and draining sweet jumpers.  We have a counter for their inside game (our length), we have a counter for their go-to scorer (Ron-Ron), we don’t have a counter for Ray Allen and those damn highly effective, 63% of the time illegal, screens he comes of off. 

Like we mentioned in the preview, Allen coming off these screens opens up passing lanes for Rondo, open looks for Boston bigs and those are things we didn’t allow in game 1.  Weird enough, the best way to ensure Allen is on the floor to do this, is with Pierce on Kobe.

I hope that the Lakers don’t let this affect them.  They cannot counter this with an emphasized effort to get Ron the rock on the block.  They have to keep running their sets, and trust Kobe to keep the offense rolling.

2nd Adjustment: More Sheed

Again-this has a two-fold effect.  One-Sheed was the best defender on Pau in game 1.  He blocked a hook, and also was able to move better with Pau than KG could.  Wallace, for everything said about him, is a damn good post defender, and even though Perk was there for the ’08 run, Doc may defer to Sheed and allow him the most minutes against the Lakers most important offensive weapon. 

Two-Sheed opens things up a little offensively for the
C’s.  Without James Posey, the C’s only have 1 full-time threat on the perimeter-Ray-Ray, and another scorer (ADA wheelchair compliant Paul Pierce) who can masquerade as a 3pt threat.  Outside of that, Sheed is their best outside weapon.  When he is in the game, Garnett has more space to operate on the block, and Rondo and Pierce have a legitimate release valve on the perimeter when the drive to the hoop.

3rd Adjustment: More 1-4 Flat Sets For Pierce:

Paul Pierce was having a very hard time getting the ball in a position to score.  This was evidenced by his 9 field goal attempts.  Granted, he took 13 freebies, but still, this suggests Artest did a great job keeping Pierce away from his sweet spots.  To get Pierce a better chance to work in space, and to give him better passing angels on the drive, we may see lots of 1-4 flat sets featuring Pierce up top with the ball.  With their starters, this could allow them to let Allen camp out in the corner (preventing help), while leaving Perk underneath for boards and dunks, Rondo roaming and cutting and Garnett cherry picking spots on the high post to drill from.  The Lakers will have to have their rotations together for this attack.  Kobe must be vigilant not to allow Rondo a free layup on a simple cut, and Pau cannot allow Garnett to get going from 17 feet. This is why timely help by Drew-which he did quite effectively in Game 1, will continue to be key for the Lakers.

4th Adjustment:  The C’s will shrink the floor

Doc Rivers said it explicitly in the post game presser.  They want to shrink the floor.  This was what made Kobe a 40pct in the ’08 finals.  Boston can do this to teams.  They choke you off, and it is what makes them who they are.  They can do this because standard set offenses do not provide the spacing to stop the reaching, rotating and reactions of a tuned in and aggressive C’s defense.  Only thing about that is when you spread it out with great spacing, they can’t shrink the floor.  That is why the triangle is the Lakers best friend and why the 4th quarter was kind of alarming for Laker fans.  Kobe-as Dwyer on Ball Don’t Lie keeps saying-can’t go into a predominantly high screen and roll game.  This is what allows the C’s to key in.

The Lakers can leave the Tri-they did early in the game in favor of a high-low game with Pau and Drew and it worked wonderfully.  The C’s were caught off guard by that, they won’t be next game. 

The other effect of not allowing the C’s to choke you off defensively is that it stifles their transition game, and essentially, Rondo’s overall effectiveness and impact on the game.  Without the turnovers and the run-outs, Rondo is forced to operate in the half-court, and that is where the Lakers want him.

Hey, let’s just hope Tommy T. isn’t working the videotape and is out looking for a job.

I agree with Kwame on all of these points.  Boston must figure out a way to slow Kobe, stop the Lakers penetration, control their defensive backboards, and get their offensive players going where they can score enough points to match what the Lakers are capable of.

From the Lakers’ perspective, I think we should also point out that they’ll need to make some adjustments of their own even though they were the winning team.  For example, even though Gasol was effective scoring the ball, a lot of his points came off offensive rebounds, weak side flashes, and the P&R game.  In game 2, I’d like to see Pau get more straight post up opportunities so he can go to work on the low block.  Over the course of this season, we’ve seen how effective the Lakers offense is when the ball is going inside first and I’d like to see more of that in game two rather than the plan that relied on dribble penetration and screens on the wing from game 1.

On defense, I’d like to see the Lakers continue the things that worked in game one, but I’d also like to see Kobe gamble and help less on defense and not allow Rondo to get behind him as frequently.  In the last game, Kobe helped far too frequently (considering the effectiveness of the players he was helping on) and it opened up lanes for Rondo to cut through and receive passes that set up easy shots for himself or his teammates.  I’d also like to see the Lakers secure rebounds and push the ball more frequently and then get more from their transition chances.  Besides the alley oop the Kobe and the leak outs by Gasol, I’m having trouble remembering much success on the break by the Lakers.  And for a team that rebounded as well as they did while also considering how the Celtics looked in terms of their mobility and quickness, I think the Lakers could have done a bit more.

All that said, these are just a few things that we’ll be looking for.  What say you?  Let us know in the comments as we start to get ready for game 2 tomorrow.

Darius Soriano

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47 responses to Let The Adjustments Begin

  1. I completely disagree with Kwame about not going to Artest if he’s guarded by Ray Allen.

    That’s what you absolutely NEED TO DO. The whole thing with Ray Allen is his offense relies on a high octane moving/weaving/timing combo that requires a lot of energy. So you need to wear him out on defense.

    Kobe did that fantastically on Thursday. Instead of settling for mid-range jumpers, he went right at him again and again, and completely took Ray out of the game.

    If they put him on Artest, you’ve got to do the same thing. You can’t let Ray off the hook by having Artest float around the perimeter. You’ve got to have Artest bang Ray around in the post.

    How much of that do you think he’ll be able to take, anyway? Artest, when he’s got a mismatch, has shown himself to be very effective when he sets up in the post.

    So that’s what you have to do.

    You go to that mismatch a few times, and Boston is forced to switch up their defense and put Pierce back on Artest.

    You absolutely can’t let Boston off the hook if they try to get away having Ray Allen try guard a guy who is literally twice his size.

  2. I agree those will likely be the adjustments we see from Boston. I also think we will see more Pick and Rolls for Pierce in the middle so that he can get a little bit of separation from Ron Ron. This seemed to work pretty well for them in the fourth quarter, and is one of the reason Pierce was effective in that quarter. Also if Ron gets in foul trouble I expect the Celts to go to Pierce more often when someone else is guarding him.

    Its going to be a tougher game. The Celts are going to come out with a lot of energy and play more physical to try and throw the Lakers off their game. I expect a low scoring defensive slug fest.

  3. Wallace getting more time at Perkins expense will open things up for Bynum.

    Pierce defending Kobe is going to wear him out, especially if Kobe doesn’t settle for quick jumpshots. They can pull a page out of the Ray Allen book and force Pierce to work through screens to stay with Kobe.

    As long as the Lakers take advantage of the what the Celtics adjustments offer, they should be fine.

  4. thisisweaksauce June 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Burgundy (1)

    Also, I think Artest can put Ray Allen in foul trouble as well. Ray Allen in foul trouble worked out pretty well, didn’t it?

  5. If Pierce guards Kobe, and is somewhat effective, and Artest doesn’t compensate by taking Allen to town, then I wonder if our most logical counter-move is:

    Lamar subbing in for Artest? Allen can’t possibly guard Odom, so this would basically force him to guard Kobe. The downside, of course, is that Lamar would have to guard Pierce. So I guess it would really come down to whether it’s better for the Lakers to have Artest guarding Pierce or Allen guarding Kobe.

  6. One thing I think we and the Hated Ones have had in common this postseason is an ability to rise to the challenge and play brilliantly in must-win games. The flip side of this coin, of course, is that both LA and B*s have played uninspired basketball in games without that extra pressure. I really expect B*s to lay it on the line in game 2 and hope that the Lakers will be able to withstand this assault. Despite all the absurd tennis talk of ‘just holding serve’, 2-0 would be close to devastating (only Det has won the 3 middle games in the history of the Finals, which means we’d be looking at a return to Staples at 3-2 LA at worst, in my opinion), whereas a split in Staples would give Bos all the momentum moving forward.

    By the way, what is all this ‘held-serve’ crap anyway? What talking heads call ‘holding serve’ in the playoffs is actually winning half the games necessary to be declared the winner of the entire series– it would be as if a tennis player held serve 9 consecutive times and the other player was about to serve for the very first time. That would be considered a huge advantage, right? No wonder why the 2-0 team almost always wins.

    This is a monster game. I expect to see a much tougher Bos team laying it all on the line and want the Lakers to meet that challenge and more. Wake up, Lamar! LET’S GO BOYS!!!

  7. Burgundy,
    I think you’re overstating Kwame’s position. What he said was that the Lakers should avoid “an emphasized effort to get Ron the rock on the block. They have to keep running their sets, and trust Kobe to keep the offense rolling.” And with that, I completely agree. Many complain about the Lakers not taking advantage of mismatches but what’s lost in that talk is that the Lakers run a read a react system that features Kobe and Pau. So, the other guys are going to have to get their offense within the flow of the offense – that includes Artest. There are plenty of actions that lead to Ron in the post and if Ray is on him, I’m sure we’ll see those actions. What I don’t want (and what I think Kwame is saying) is for Ron to now be some sort of go to player in the post just because he’s got an advantage over his defender. I mean, we just saw Ray Allen try to do the same thing to Fisher and it’s not like that was the most successful thing in the world.

    The Lakers need to run their sets and trust their decision making and not let the Celtics adjustments dictate their next move. The Lakers won the last game because they set the terms of the game. If Boston tries to make adjustments like Pierce on Kobe or ‘Sheed on Pau, the Lakers should keep running their sets until the C’s prove that their adjustments trump the Lakers standard sets. When I spoke about the Lakers adjustments, my point was to slightly shift some things around, but in the end, unless the C’s can stop Kobe (wether it’s Allen or Pierce) why go away from that and to Artest on the post against a smaller defender? That’s what the Celtics want. Sure, they’d like to slow Kobe, but what they’d prefer is that the Lakers overreact to they’re adjustments and go away from him.

  8. Darius – I see your point, I’m just saying you can’t let Allen off the hook by having Ron be a perimeter player if they put Pierce on Kobe. That’s what the Celtics want. There’s nothing wrong with going at a mismatch.

    Besides the fact that putting Artest in the post will cause the Celtics to have to shift their defense, creating other openings.

    You also can’t compare Allen trying to take Fish into the post with Artest taking Allen into the post.

    Allen isn’t a post player. He doesn’t really have a post game. So when Allen took Fish into the post, even though he had the height advantage, he didn’t really have any ability to get a good shot off.

    Artest, on the other hand, DOES have a post game, and could most certainly utilize it against a smaller defender (as we saw in the Phoenix series when he went at Richardson a couple times).

  9. #8. Burgundy,
    I hear what you’re saying and your point is well made. Really, I just think there has to be some balance in how the Lakers attack. Like I said, if Allen ends up on Ron, I think the Lakers will run some of their actions that get Ron his touches in the post. I also think that Allen on Artest would mean Ron going to the offensive glass with more force and make Ray play through entire defensive possessions without being able to leak out and run to the three point line for his open jumpers. There are ways where the Lakers can take advantage of this potential match up without forcing anything (not that you were saying that, per se). We’ll see how it all plays out though. I do understand that Ron in the post against a defender that doesn’t have the strength to handle him well down there (see Durant in the OKC series), but all in all, the Lakers need to be forceful with Kobe and Pau and then work their offense with the crispness that they displayed in game 1.

  10. The Lakers must be patient and allow somebody else besides Kobe to initiate the offense, if he’s being guarded by Pierce. Instead of trying to bull his way to the basket, Kobe should work off the ball and use screens to catch the ball at the elbow. (They usually run this action for Fisher for an 18 foot jumper)

    Did you guys catch that Gasol/Bynum pick and roll in the 1st quarter? Drew missed the shot, but it resulted in a great opportunity.

    I’m not too bothered by our 4th quarter. I think it was a mistake to put Pau on Rasheed. If they had used Odom on Rasheed, we would have had a shotblocker in the paint. Odom’s also better suited to show hard on Rondo. I don’t mind conceding 3s to Wallace, even.

  11. This breakdown by Kevin Pelton of Kobe vs. various Celtics is a must read:

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1154

    One thing it leaves out though is “fouls drawn.” Pierce fouled Kobe three times in just 7 possessions, so Pierce may not be able to stay with Kobe any better than Ray Allen (3 PFs in 10 possessions) and certainly not Tony Allen (2 PFs in 9 possessions).

  12. What will guarding Kobe on the defensive side and dealing with Ron on the offensive side do to Paul’s stamina? Doc has to be careful about how long he allows Pierce to play Kobe. Considering everyone sees this adjustment coming I would guess Phil Jackson does as well. I’m sure he has a counter adjustment ready to go.

  13. Some effective action we got away from in the 4th quarter was Pau slipping the ball screen in the slot, receiving the pass in the short corner, then finding the flash cutter to the high post. When the ball was then driven to the rim, it drew help, and we got some dunks and bunnies against the over-helping C’s.

    I anticipate the C’s will try to bait us into more 3 point attempts with a pack line defense. We’ll know early if our perimeter players have the self-discipline to avoid the temptation to jack too many 3 bombs. Keep it in the interior to leverage our length and limit Boston’s run outs.

  14. Like I said earlier, putting Pierce on Kobe won’t help them that much – Kobe will beat anyone, but it will help us allow Ron to pin Allen under the basket instead of leaking out.

    Another adjustment I’d like to see – backside lobs to Kobe when the defender is aggressively denying. We had a couple opportunities for this last game but we missed it.

  15. The ugly truth that the Celtics don’t want to say is Garnett is not the defensive anchor that he was in 2008.

    All of the media were baiting Kobe, Phil, and Pau into saying that. All were smart enough to bite their tongues except for Pau.

    Regardless, the reason you saw Kobe getting to the hoop so effortlessly was because the rotations were late from Garnett and Perkins. The Celtics SSZ was expanding and contracting effortlessly and they were still contesting jumpers because of KG’s length and athleticism.

    I’m not saying this is going to be an easy series because the Celtics are a veteran team and have pride. So they’ll play even tougher and try to reclaim that energy on the defensive end to beat the Lakers.

    Oh Pau I hope you bite your lip next time.

  16. lil’ pau,
    Miami won the middle 3 home games of the finals, too, after losing the first 2 no less.

  17. I actually like what Pau said, or didn’t say really, about KG. The media hyped it up pretty hard in my opinion… But let’s say KG decides that he wants to prove Pau wrong and go after him all game offensively. That would be awesome! KG’s game nowadays is almost exclusively jump shots unless he’s getting looks off of Rondo’s penetration or second chance opportunities from offensive rebounds. If he goes off for 30 points then it will be because he shot the ball 25-30 times which would be beautiful. If he’s gonna get points by shooting jump shots then I would much rather him be shooting than Ray Ray or Pierce.

    What worries me a little bit is that Kobe might get stuck guarding Pierce more and Rondo will have Fisher guarding him. Pierce may even be better than Kobe at drawing fouls and Kobe on the bench hurts LA much more than Ray Ray on the bench hurts Foston.

    One thing that seems to be missing in all the articles being written is Bynum’s impact so far. Perkins was literally non-existent. I’m not sure if it’s because he is a little banged up or if he just isn’t playing with the same fire for fear of the next technical, but I think Bynum is just a load for him to deal with. I have been down on him for being so injury prone, but I have to give props to him for not shutting it down throughout the playoffs.

    Anyway I can’t wait to see what PJ and Doc come up with for next game!

  18. Off-topic, but the Bulls will be monstrous defensively next year. Thibodeau is apparently bringing in Ron Adams from the Thunder. Two of the greatest defensive minds in the game (arguably the 2 greatest) coaching a guy with a motor like Joakim Noah – that’ll be fun to watch.

  19. I think the question on all of our minds is which of these future Hall of Famers will end the season with two more rings than LeBron.

    Brian Scalabrine is coming off a career year, including a memorable game on January 13 when he exploded for 11 points on 4 for 11 shooting against the New Jersey Nets. The Celtics swingman was a model of consistency, shooting better than 66% beyond the arc in February, a month in which he took nine shots.

    Adam Morrison was something of a wild card when he arrived in Los Angeles, but he really found his game alongside Kobe Bryant. Ammo had the best run of his career in November when he scored in four consecutive games. Lakers tactician Phil Jackson out-witted the league when he limited Morrison’s minutes to 72 in the final three months of the season to ensure Morrison was at his best come playoff time. Ammo hasn’t disappointed either, thrashing the playoff naif Oklahoma Super Sonics for four points in consecutive games in the opening round.

    We can only hope to see these stars unveil their full potential in the NBA Finals.

    (just a joke, don’t delete me)

  20. Edit – I’ll change that. They should be monstrous. But there might be a reason no team has offered Thibodeau a contract until now. We haven’t seen him in interviews. Some people are great assistants but don’t have that ability to lead a team. We’ll see.

  21. the same journalist who called for the Celtics to “rambis” dwight howard is the same guy that tried to provoke garnett.

    bob ryan of the boston globe defended pau and lambasted that journalist(rod borges) on his blog.

  22. I would love to see some good stats on Ron’s post effectiveness. My observation is that he doesn’t always make good decisions, and one of the most important things about the triangle is that it requires good decisions from the post (and Bynum, to his credit, is slowly getting better after looking like he might never get it). Kobe and Pau are excellent decision-makers in the post. They don’t always succeed of course, but usually the right thing happens.

    So I agree with Kwame and Darius, and my concern about repeated attempts to post up Artest is that under pressure he can easily put together bad stretches of decision-making [say, 1) offensive foul, 2) forced shot against the double 3) telegraphed pass] and you’re not only 6-8 points back, you’ve taken the life out of the offense in order to “punish” Allen.

    Of course, Ron can also do great things in the post and I don’t think he should be encouraged to stay on the wing. I just think everything needs to keep the offense moving and the ball moving. Going repeatedly to Ron will not achieve that.

  23. Snoopy,

    As long as Thibodeau doesn’t quote from “Hitch” I think he’ll be ok.

  24. The reason that I have confidence that LA defends the chip, although in a hard fought battle, against the C’s is for one reason. Who does the Lakers have to double team on Boston? Ron Ron can hold down Pierce alone, Pau can check jumpshot KG man o man.

    In 08, thats what made life hell at the defensive end. LA had to double KG in the post, and help Vlad guard Pierce. He couldnt keep him in front of him if his life dependent on it. With all the help it just opened up to many easy shots for players like E. House, J. Posey, and L. Powe. Those open shots will be few far and between with players able to stay home this year.

    Lakers in 6.

  25. On adjustments – I know this is basic, but the first one is that they are going to rachet up the intensity. They are going to play more physical, particularly on the defensive boards- whether that works or backfires will depend on the officiating.

    I actually think they are going to pack the paint and dare the Lakers to shoot from the outside- some variation of a box and one. They know they got killed on rebounds and points in the paint – a couple of personnel switches is not going to change that as much as a commitment to keeping four guys with a foot in the paint (because the only matchup they really win is whoever is on Fisher). They are going to double Gasol when he gets the ball and just wall off Kobe on his drives.

    I think the Lakers other than Gasol and Bryant are going to get a lot of open looks. If they hit them, the game will be a blowout because the Celtics won’t have an answer. If they don’t, look to see a very tight game for three quarters that the Lakers lose with a ‘live by Kobe die by Kobe’ fourth quarter.

    The Celtics can’t match the Lakers man for man, but they can take away the two best players (or limit Gasol) and let Kobe get his points but on a very high number of shots and poor percentage.

    On the offensive side, they are going to look to keep R Allen on the floor (duh) and get Rondo out in transition off of Laker misses on long twos and threes.

  26. At this point in time, I love it when Garnett shoots. The more he shoots, the better. He faded in the Magic series and his old, tired legs aren’t getting any younger as the games and minutes pile on. He’s only got a face-up game, and the farther away he roams from the rim, the less likely he is A) to make his shots B) to draw fouls on Laker players and C) to get offensive boards.

    The only inside game Boston’s going to be able to muster is off of penetration. In the half court sets, L.A. will own the paint. So long as the Lakers attack the rim and don’t settle for threes — which lead to long rebounds and the run-outs that Rondo lives for — this will be a much easier series than many expect.

    KG’s defensive presence isn’t what it was pre-injury, and the fact that he now has to guard a seven-footer with size (Bynum) or tons ‘o moves (Gasol) also doesn’t bode well for Boston. For myriad reasons, every word Pau said was right and everyone should realize this isn’t 2008.

    Boston’s only in the Finals because they played well against very favorable matchups. They’re run of favorable matchups ended Thursday and won’t resume until the fall.

  27. @19: awesome.

  28. While a lot of people seem to be worried about KG being “fired up”, I’m actually looking forward to Gasol being “fired up”.

    KG’s “who is he?” comment was far more insulting than Gasol’s polite, articulate, and honest answer about KG’s play.

  29. Burgandy,
    Per usual you hit the nail on the head… If Allen is guarding Artest (which I don’t see happening) the Lakers should punish them by giving the ball to Ron either in the high post or on the perimeter. Wasn’t that one of the reasons to make the upgrade and bring in Artest over Ariza? So teams couldn’t put their SF’s on Kobe? There are other reasons you can’t put PP on Kobe… he is a bad defender against Kobe for one… and Pierce has a tough enough job banging with Artest on the other end as is. The guy I can see guarding Kobe is Rondo. He is their best defender and his defensive talents are being wasted sitting on the outside alone with Fisher who is just a spot up shooter. Although Rondo will be posted up by Kobe he can at least keep Kobe out of the lane.

    Darius,
    Did you just compare Ray Allen’s post game to Artest’s? Lol. Allen at this point in his career doesn’t have practically any one on one offensive skills.

  30. And if the Lakers get the ball into Artest being guarded by Ray Allen… I can assure you it would do the opposite of stagnate the offense. The Celts would have to send an automatic double leaving Kobe open on the perimeter. I am going to the game tomorrow… so I will get an up close look.

  31. For the past couple days I’ve been telling friends that Boston needs to go to Pierce on Kobe. I saw one fragment of a possession late in the game in which Pierce made it difficult for Kobe to get the ball and a light bulb went off in my head that Pierce’s size would be difficult for Kobe to handle. I also seemed to recall Pierce locking Kobe down somewhat in 2008 so I agreed with Abe’s prediction until about 6pm tonight.

    It was at that time that I started to think about the matchups when the Lakers have the ball with starting lineups on the floor

    Bryant – Pierce
    Fisher – Rondo
    Gasol – Garnett
    Bynum – Perkins

    *Artest – R Allen

    *This matchup is why Boston won’t go with more Pierce on Kobe. It forces Allen to guard Artest and theoretically Artest would have a field day against Allen. I don’t think he would because Ron’s inside game is “unpolished” to put it mildly, but the risk is too high. Artest can demolish Ray Allen inside with his size and cause the defense to get bent out of shape during rotations. I rewatched a portions of Game 1 and Pierce only guards Bryant a few times when there are three guards on the floor for the Lakers (think: Farmar, Brown, Bryant). Then Rondo and Allen guard the other two (Or Nate Robinson). Boston may go small-ball against the Lakers to get the Pierce/Bryant match-up but that’s a risky move if Lakers decide to stay with Artest. I’m sick and tired of hearing differences between 2008 and 2010. However, Boston not having someone like Posey and Lakers having Artest is the sole reason for this difficult choice. In 2008 Pierce or Posey could guard Kobe and both could punish Kobe on their offensive end because of their size. This year, the Celtics don’t have that option.

    I think the Lakers should avoid playing Kobe at the 3 as much as possible to avoid the matchup. If (and this is a big if) Pierce is having success on defense against Kobe, the Celtics should try and play Rondo and Robinson together as much as possible. This could force (although not guarantee) the Lakers to bring in a smaller lineup, pushing Kobe to the 3 spot.

  32. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCOn9NiSgfs&feature=fvst

    please come to boston : kenny loggins

    dude: vladimir radmanovic is not playing the fence
    dont know where he is. andrew bynum is starting center. he’s no wilt . but he is in the game. lakers in 5. green wins game #4 if refs call home court fouls.
    game #2: stats la 112 bos 86. our tacos’ aren’t green

  33. The big key mentioned here is Pierce guarding Kobe. The thing with both Pierce and Allen is that both guys love to use their hands on the perimeter, which would be great 7 years ago, but the NBA rules have changed with the hand-check rules (the refs remembered the rule change in the 2006 Miami-Dallas finals, but not the 2008 finals, for some reason). I think the rule is silly. I miss aggressive perimeter defense. But it’s not allowed anymore and Kobe has to do a good job of accentuating those fouls. While Ray Allen is key for Boston, Pierce is their best guy at creating his own shot. The Lakers have a wonderful opportunity to take him out of the game with foul trouble if he guards Kobe, that is, if the officials are as diligent in enforcing the rulebook as they were in game 1. If Kobe is determined to beat Pierce off the dribble, Pierce WILL reach. Also, Pierce has a history of trying to block Kobe’s jumper, so Kobe should throw in the occasional up-fake. I’m serious. If they decide to switch Pierce onto Kobe as the primary defender, Kobe needs to show wheelchair guy to the pine.

    Secondly, I do not like Artest on the block, unless a play is designed specifically for this. What I mean is, if Artest is calling for the ball with 12 seconds on the clock with Ray on him down low, they shouldn’t go to it just to got to it. It may work occasionally, but if it doesn’t lead to a basket it WILL lead to transition opportunities for the Celtics, which is the LAST thing you want. You’re asking Ron to find his cross-match in Pierce which is not easy when he has to run 94 feet after a failed post move. Remember all those transition threes for Pierce and Allen 2 years ago? That’s what you get when the Laker 2 or 3 fails to score around the basket.

    Speaking of Ron, look for him to body Pierce up more on the perimeter. He gave him a little too much cushion in G1. Ron needs to deny Pierce quality mid-range looks, which is not easy when you’re also trying to stay in front of the guy. Ron needs to be aware of where the help is so he can shade Pierce toward a big. This will be difficult with Pierce operating at the top of the key, but you can’t give the guy the mid-range game. I’d much rather him be a play-maker for them, especially since most of Pierce’s passing options will be high risk with Artest hounding and the Laker long arms everywhere.

    And finally: Kobe – please stop helping off of Rondo, especially when Rajon is around the basket. Trust your guys.

  34. A couple of fun, random facts when we look back to the regular season:

    - The Boston Celtics tie for the worst home record of any playoff team.

    - On the other hand, the Celtics have the East’s best road record while we have the West’s best home record. Something will have to give for Game 2.

    - We finished the regular season 4-6; only one playoff team was worse, and that was Boston (3-7).

    - 3 rounds later, our final opponent has the same record as our first-round opponent (50-32).

  35. You know what I just thought of?

    Jackson wants Kobe on Rondo but Rivers wants Rondo on Fisher and Pierce on Kobe (presumably). But Jackson wants Artest on Pierce. But Rivers needs Allen on Artest so Pierce can guard Kobe.

    With all of these cross-matches, what are the odds that the coaches will actually get their desired match-up when the ball’s not being taken out of the net?

    I mean, isn’t it possible that if, for example, the Lakers get a stop with Kobe on Rondo and Artest on Pierce that you end up with Rondo guarding Artest (on the block) on the next possession?

    Just one of many possibilities.

    Kind of hilarious.

  36. Darius,

    I think that Kwame’s “adjustments” and your further suggestions are premature. The progression of matchups in the first game were largely driven by fouls–and that will also be true in game 2.

    If the refs “let ‘em play,” the physical level of defensive play most likely will focus primarily on Pau, not Kobe–somewhat as we saw against OKC–maybe even a form of Gentry’s Arizona zone. ‘Sheed might even be a major presence under those circumstances.

    To play Celtic basketball, the goal is not to score more Boston points, but to reduce Laker points by about 20. That suggests more reaching and grabbing–more turnovers–and more transition basketball. Such an approach relies more on team energy than individual matchups–and both teams would once again go deep into their benches as in game one–but for different reasons.

    If the refs really call them tight, the game may well be won by the last players standing, since Bynum, Gasol, Odom, and Fisher might be vulnerable for the Lakers, and Perkins, Big Baby, ‘Sheed, and the two Allens for Boston. Kobe and Gasol vs. Pierce and Rondo might well spend much of the night at the foul line.

  37. if the celtics put pierce on kobe, look for mamba to be very agressive and mark his territory in the 1st quarter. he will do anything to draw fouls against pierce, so its going to be interesting how he stays out of foul-trouble. he was quite effective in the 4th quarter (but did get 3 fouls on just a couple posessions), but i think by that time kobe was a little tired. if he gets pierce in the 1st quarter he will start gunning

  38. For what I saw in game 1, the lakers should certainly go inside when Pau and Bynum are in the game, it may be me but it seemed that the Celts couldn’t defend them.

    Also, it surprised me that Boston almost gave up on offensive rebounds. They certainly do this to improve their transition defense but come on, they could have gotten some offensive boards with litle effort.

    It also seemed that the Lakers beat them in intensity by a wide margin, and I believe in this aspect Boston has more margin of improvement than the Lakers.

    The observation that the Celts only put Pierce on Bryant in small lineups time is very interesting. But I think that they will try it with the starters for a while to see how Ron turns out against Allen and if Ron is productive they will probably avoid it on a regular basis.

    By the way, Pau’s song :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRSYU4YSISA

  39. In game #1 the Celtics had few fast breaks and also gave up offensive rebounds to the Lakers. That is a formula for disaster – and it happened.

    This game, I suspect, Doc with accept only one of these two scenarios. Either leak out for fast breaks (if the Lakers are missing) or remain behind and fight for offensive rebounds. I don’t see how they get both done with the Laker length, unless the Lakers start jacking up long 2s or 3s. That was the key to the 1st game and I am sure Phil is reminding everyone of that fact.

    This leaves the Celtics with only one real option – pack in the paint to reduce the drives and cut off the angles. Since the Lakers are not a good jump-shooting team, I don’t see how the Cs use any other strategy.

  40. The big question is will Stern march out the secret weapon? If Bennent Salvadore runs out on the court with a stripped shirt on my finger runs to the phone. Lakers fav by 61/2 tonight and he changes the game by at least 5 points.

    just saying——————-

    look for early fouls on Andrew, Ron and Fish. Going to be a much togeather game tonight. This is the season for the Mean Green Cursing Machine.

  41. Refs for tonight -

    McCutchen
    Callahan
    Mauer

  42. I think after the complaints about the surfeit of whistles, allowable contact will be higher. Arrest should not waste this opportunity to increase physical pressure on pierce.

    Of the few things that the lakers did poorly last game, the most glaring was the big’s inability to set solid picks for Kobe. A combination of the bigs not setting up higher and kobe’s lazy rubs allowed his defender to trail him easily. As a result, in the 4th the lakers got no dribble penetration. They will have to be alot more precise and patient on their screen roll this game.

  43. By the way if you see a tall Italian guy, foaming at the mouth with mustard and beer on his black jacket being led out from behind the Boston bench.

    That will be me yelling at the ref if its Salvatore.

    Or me if Phil play Sasha.

    or me just in general.

    As my wife tells me
    “there should me a mental hospital for Lakers fans”. I would be the poster boy.

    ps
    Thank you v 0 R you just saved my suit with your ref information. How do you get that its supposed to be highly guarded?

  44. Ken, it is posted at NBA.com around 9 AM EST on game days, I believe.

    http://www.nba.com/news/referee.html

  45. No kidding! That’s is outstanding info. As we know it can make a difference in the way the game is called. Refs just like players have tendencies.

    Lakers by 4 tonight. Fouls will be a early issue. Look for big games from Allen and Rondo and we need LO to show up big time.

  46. @19: I *think* I read that somewhere before (or similar) here or elsewhere. It’s still funny though…..not a knock.

    As for the game itself, man is game 2 so critical. Game 2 will tell me if the Celtics’ adjustments will actually work or are they done in the series(with all things being equal).

    I think Kobe does about 30 with more shots though, Ray Allen gets more jumpers, KG makes a few more outside shots while Sasha makes another hoop in the game and the Lakers just scratch their way to another win. :)

    Here’s to being halfway to a parade!

    Bye.