Looking For Answers

Darius Soriano —  June 14, 2010

There’s an eerie familiarity to what’s currently happening in the NBA Finals.  Much like the 2008 match up between the Lakers and the Celtics, the Lakers look a bit befuddled on offense while their defense is coming up short at inopportune times.  Meanwhile, Boston’s defense is as smothering as ever and their offense is finding the cracks in the Lakers defensive schemes to score just enough points to keep the Lakers at arms length over the course of a game.  Things are not looking good for the Lakers and it’s now time for them to play their best game or suffer another Finals defeat at the hand of the Celtics.

Everywhere I look, people are searching for answers.  They want to know what adjustments can be made.  They want to know what secret play can be run.  They’re looking for that tweak to the Lakers’ schemes that will turn the series back in favor of the Lakers.  Well, everyone can stop looking – those things don’t exist. 

The Lakers are not going to change what they do.  They’re a Triangle team on offense and funnel you to the paint (to contest with their bigs) team on defense .  That’s what they’ve been all season and expecting them to come up with some sort of X’s and O’s elixir at this point in the season – when at the brink of elimination or on the verge of forcing a deciding game 7 – is not the way that basketball works.  At this point in the season, you go back to the fundamentals of your game and you do them better.

There is your answer.

The Lakers must get back to playing their brand of basketball; they must get back to the style that got them this far in the playoffs where they won 2 of the first 3 games of the Finals.

That means going back to the post and working the ball inside out.  This is easier said than done because of the way that the Celtics are muscling Gasol from the low block.  My answer to that is to fight harder for position and be patient when making post entries.  Work better passing angles and allow Gasol to get open.  And then after making the catch, Pau needs to play his game by attacking the rim when players crowd him and shooting his face up jumper when the defense plays off him.

The Lakers must also get back to cutting and screening off the ball after initial passes are made.  Too often in the past two games the Lakers have been jogging in their movements.  There has not been enough urgency in the Lakers movement off the ball and it’s led to the stagnant sets we’ve all witnessed in the past few games.  This has led to Kobe needing to have the ball in his hand entirely too often for the Lakers to end up with an even halfway decent look.  If the Lakers move better off the ball and create the separation need to make catches so they can either shoot or move the ball on again, the crispness to this offense will return.  This will help Kobe and Pau who all to often have been asked to create one on (more than) one and take to the teeth of a waiting Celtic defense.  If players are moving better off the ball, those help defenders are then occupied by the men they’re guarding or caught in a position of helping with not enough time to recover.

Defensively, the Lakers need to get back to pressuring the ball more.  The only Celtic that’s really feeling any sort of pressure when he’s handling the ball is Ray Allen.  The Lakers are chasing, bumping, and running at Ray every single time he even sees a sliver of daylight.  I can understand not using this approach on Rondo, but everyone else needs a defender glued to him.  That extra pressure will force turnovers and generate some open court opportunities.  Who here thinks Tony Allen is comfortable facing heavy ball pressure?  And if Artest is going to be guarding Pierce, he needs to stop respecting his first step as much, trust his help, and force Pierce to blow by him.  There can be no more uncontested shots and every player should be put in a position where they are looking to give the ball up because the pressure is so severe.

But in the end, everything must be done smarter and with that extra bit of effort.  Despite what some folks have said, the Lakers are playing hard.  What they have not been is effective.  And if they hope to become effective, they must continue to work hard but give that little bit more of themselves both physically and mentally.  This series is not over.  And if the Lakers hope to be able to say the same thing on Wednesday morning, they’ll have to understand that they only thing they can do is look in the mirror and bring everything they’ve got. 

So, this is a call to arms.  All hands on deck as the season lies in the balance.  There are no more excuses and no more games to fall back on.  And you know what? I’m confident that this team will get it done.  In the darkest moments, this team has responded.  They are the defending champion with a core of players that knows what it takes to get the job done.  In every instance over the past two seasons, this team has met these challenges with the victory that’s needed.  Tomorrow night is another one of those moments and I see them bringing their best.

Darius Soriano

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81 responses to Looking For Answers

  1. So true Darius. We have the players, the coach, and the hardware that says we have done it before.

    Just have to want to do what it takes to win, which is all out effort. The bit about urgency in the cuts is critical. We just aren’t doing it.

    Now is the time!

  2. No doubt in my mind the Lakers have been playing hard. They are simply over matched playing with a wounded Bynum.

    When Bynum is even somewhat effective, the matchup advantage shifts sharply in the Lakers’ favor. When he’s absent or ineffective, Pau is outnumbered and pounded to pieces. It’s not Pau’s fault – he’s been a dream. But he needs some help.

  3. That entire last paragraph could also be written about Boston.

    Not that I disagree with it, they have proven capable in the big moments, except in 2008. But I do believe this is a better Lakers team than 08.

    This should be fun to watch.

  4. Darius,
    I watched the game last night and came away a bit dejected and frustrated. I couldn’t quite explain it, but your post put everything in perspective. I didn’t read the initial comments or the talking heads comments in your previous post — too many people with outside agendas trying to come up with some magic column.

    If we lose again, it will be to a better team that presented us with issues we were unable to adjust to. That’s the NBA people — last round Phoenix found out the same thing. However, we have the talent. We need to rely on our basic values and work like there is no tomorrow – there isn’t, you know.

  5. Lakers win Game 6. This has already been the highest rated Finals in years, no way Game 7 doesn’t happen.

  6. When was the last time we saw a Gasol-to-Bynum pass? The interior passing has deteriorated. Even the cuts that you mention have gone dry the last few games. That’s where our sense of stagnation and lack of effort has come from. We need movement, ball movement and people movement. That’s why RonRon has been frustrating for me(us), I believe. It’s like when he gets the ball, now it’s time to think. Not the way to do it.

    Just an analogy, because it’s that time of the (4) years. Every talented soccer star knows exactly what he should do and what his options are before the ball arrives at his feet. He’s made up his mind and executes by the time the ball is there. That’s what we need to see on the basketball court. Read, react, go. Catch and think is not an option.

    I know the triangle is tough, but there’s not time for anyone to make excuses. This is it.

  7. Mike Penberthy June 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Bynum being out injured or playing but being severely limited because of injuries is his normal state. When is he not injured?
    Wishing for Bynum to be healthy is like wishing for Kwame Brown not to have hands of stone. Not gonna happen. The Lakers knew that going in.

  8. Funky Chicken June 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Darius, your analysis is in sync with Charles Barkley’s, who after the game last night pretty much ruled out any possible adjustments and said the Lakers just need to “play better”. I’m worried about that conclusion.

    I think that we need more than that. Offensively, I think they have to break the triangle. Boston knows how to stop this offense, and our failure to do anything differently is leading to progressively fewer points in each game. I agree with the notion that defense wins championships, but unlike the Celtics (who use their D to inspire their O) our guys play harder on defense when they are involved on offense.

    As the series has progressed, the officials have allowed more physicality, and that plays right into the Celtics’ hands. KG is manhandling Pau and pushing him well off the block. That puts KG within easy striking range of Kobe as a help defender and leaves Kobe with very few good options. He can swing the ball to Artest at the three point line at the top of the key, give it Gasol 18 feet from the hoop, or shoot a fadeaway jumper. Given the ineffectiveness of his teammates, he’s opting for the fadeaway, which pretty much guarantees that neither he, nor Pau (18 feet away) nor Ron (top of the key) will be in rebounding position.

    The pick and roll with Pau worked well in the first 2 games, but hasn’t been used much since. Why not go back to it, and while we’re at it, why don’t they run a pick and roll with Kobe and Artest? Ron is totally disengaged (and has been all season) on offense because his role is basically to stand around at the 3pt line. He might catch fire; but at this point that strategy is more akin to a prayer than a plan.

    To me, there was a defining characteristic of the Lakers two wins from an offensive standpoint: breaking the triangle and mixing it up. In game 1 it was the Kobe/Pau pick and roll. In game 3 it was the Kobe/Fisher pick and roll. In the losses, we’ve abandoned that approach and relied on the triangle, which seems to play right into Boston’s hands.

    The thing I hate about the triangle is that it is designed to get open shots “in general”, not open shots for a particular guy. Against a good defensive team, those shots usually go to the Lakers’ worst shooters because it is the DEFENSE that dictates who gets the shot. In the pick and roll situation, the LAKERS get to decide who gets the shot (or at least which of two guys), which not only allows us to use our best weapons, but also to get certain players (Ron or LO) involved at our choosing, or to exploit in-game advantages like exposing a defender in foul trouble.

    My fear is that you are right, and that the Lakers aren’t going to change their basic offense. Of course, I think it can be argued that only in breaking their basic offense have they gotten consistently good shots (and wins) in this series.

    The added benefit of scrapping the triangle (if not in whole, than at least in significant part) is that doing so not only has been shown to be a better offensive strategy against Boston but given the psyche of our players, it is more likely to lead to energy and effort on the defensive side, where maybe we won’t be giving up back to back layups and letting a pretty weak offensive team shoot nearly 60% from the floor….

  9. I wonder if both Bynum and Oden are going to have a Bill Walton-like career – potential of a superstar left unfulfilled due to being injury-prone.

    The only thing keeping me somewhat positive is the fact that it’s hard to see this Lakers team losing three in a row to anyone. We’re due for a break of some sort.

  10. I believe the Lakers can win both at home…but it will take big efforts from more than one player.

    And there are some consistently bad habits that the Lakers have—–Gasol tips too many rebounds, he needs to go up strong with both hands and grab them. Odom needs to be a beast on the glass, which we all know he can do. And guys need to BOX OUT. If the Lakers would just put the extra effort into securing rebounds, they wouldn’t see so many “lucky bounces” fall into the Celtics’ hands.

    Nothing needs to change, except that there needs to be a bit more variety in the offense and the Lakers need to man up and grab rebounds. If they get outworked by the Celtics again, they will have no one to blame but themselves. As is, there’s really no excuse for a number of these losses: Game 2 should have been a Laker victory, but they choked it away in the 4th. Game 4 was a great opportunity, choked away in the 4th. I’d be upset, but able to rationalize away a loss to a clearly superior team. But the Celtics are not a superior team. They’re just meaner and they work harder.

  11. At some point, LA lost that revenge mentality from game 1. Phil needs to show them the game 6 tape from the 2008 Finals. These games have been ugly, for both teams. If game 6 is ugly too, it will be ALL about effort. I’m disappointed with the refs, as are most fans for both teams. The horrible block call against Kobe in the 4th cost us a shot at the game. LA has to play above the refs in game 6. They need to have a substantial enough lead, and they need it early. We are all sick of the poor starts the last 3 games in Boston. It seemed like in each game, the Celts had an 8 point lead early in the 1st. I have faith that this team can step up to this challenge. Let’s do this!

  12. great post darius. i don’t really see the comparisons to 2008. it seems like most of the reporting on this series is like watching a windshield wiper at work – they choose a side depending on the last win. In ’08 Boston was the better team. That’s not the case here. They have executed and adjusted better – look at all those frickin layups in game 5 (including rondos in the last minutes of the game), the block of gasol’s dunk and pathetic 4q free throw shooting as examples. (How do you not break tony allen’s arm and jam that through? Answer: let a euro do it!) Pau has played great, but he will never be that type of guy. If the lakers can tighten the defense – with Artest and Bynum leading the way – it will lead to better opportunities on the offensive end. The triangle has lots of options, and I think the players we have are smart enough to use them. But it must start from the defensive end. As a side note, I am completely frustrated with LO. He did get screwed on the charge call with pierce, but he’s got to figure it out, or I would not be surprised if he’s not around next year. I don’t think Jerry Buss has forgotten the headaches he caused last summer.

  13. The Lakers offense is flawed because Artest and Odom are getting the “Rondo” treatment and every quarter Gasol is posting up two feet further from the basket. Gasol needs to look to be a passer and Odom and Artest need to make hard cuts to the basket, also I think Sasha needs a little extra burn

  14. @ 11 – I completely agree. If our guys had to watch game 6 again from 2008 and then Phil asked them, “Do you want them doing that to you on your own court?” what do you think that might do to our psyche?
    I also agree with Archon – we kept control of game 1 because our perimeter players (namely Ron-Ron) hit some open shots. If we want to make Boston’s defense truly work, we must make some shots from the perimeter to loosen them up on the inside.

    I’m not a big NBA conspiracy theory kind of guy, but I will say this – I expect all of the “close” calls to go our way in game 6. I’m not bemoaning the refs in games 4 & 5, but the missed 3 by Allen last night was a huge call that helped dictate the end of the game. That said, the NBA is eating these ratings up and with a new CBA on the horizon, they want to promote how many people still care about the game. Can you imagine how many casual viewers will tune in to watch a game 7 between these two teams?

    The ratings could be through the roof. I’m not saying the refs are going to hand us the game, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the Cs big players saddled with early fouls and a possible technical for Perkins or Sheed.

    I still believe in our Lakers. We got Home Court for a reason – just like ’88, let’s repeat with two wins on our court.

    Go Lakers!!

  15. The Celtics continuously beat on you for a whole series and it wears on you the longer the series. Thats their game plan. They get away with a much as possible, especially at home. The next two games will be different. If not for Ray Allens 3 point barrage in game 2 we would have won both games and be up 3-2 now.

  16. The likely tipping point will be aggregate number of fouls called on both team – 45 or less the Celts win; the Celts have worked out the Refs are under pressure not to call fouls. We should play some more physical players. Thats the key

  17. “In the darkest moments, this team has responded.”

    i couldnt agree more

  18. 8

    I completely agree and have posted the same thing at least twice. We cannot beat this Boston team sticking doggedly to the triangle as if it’s business as usual. Artest is hesitant. Pau is getting pushed off his spots. Bynum is a day-to-day question mark. You can’t run a rhythm-based offense like the triangle (which we haven’t done that well all season anyway) with so many players out of rhythm! Not against this Boston defense.

    Where is the Kobe-Pau pick-and-roll? It worked perfectly well early and has suddenly vanished into thin air. I’ve been asking the same question since the end of Game 2.

  19. Nick Van Sexel June 14, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Simply put, I’m not worried at all. We still have home court advantage, which will be a huge factor in my opinion, particularly for everyone not named Kobe. Lakers need to play pressure defense, win the rebounding battle, secure loose balls, and make better passes and cuts off the ball. Let’s go Lakers!

  20. one more thing. the crowd yesterday was loud – almost okc loud. i do think that played a minor role. Yeah you can tune it out, but you can’t tell me that your adrenaline isn’t affected. it makes the highs higher and the lows lower. i can see that getting inside of pau’s head. i think the laker crowd will be up to the task, but we gotta get a full 48 from them!

  21. Funky Chicken June 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Joel, well, then at least there are two of us. I really don’t understand the continued adherence to the triangle (except for Kobe’s freelancing, which becomes necessary because of the failure of the triangle to produce…).

    If this were a case of “it ain’t broke so don’t fix it” I would get it, but when the offense produces fewer points as the series goes on (each game has resulted in a lower Laker score) it seems to me that it might be broke. Moreover, it is hard to argue that there is a single Laker who is having a good offensive series against Boston. Kobe’s numbers are the product of volume, and a couple of superhuman stretches that can’t be relied on. Everyone else looks bad. So how do we get them going? My guess is that doing the same thing over and over and just telling them to do it “better” is probably not going to work.

    Actually, it isn’t just you and me. Jack Ramsay was pretty clear last night in describing the triangle offense as “predictable” and very much prone to being shut down by a great defensive team as a series progresses and they (Boston) become even more comfortable defending against it.

    To me, that’s the bottom line. In the last few games, Boston has looked like the more comfortable team on the floor. They know where they are supposed to be, and what they are supposed to do. I do not get that sense from the Lakers, and I suspect it is largely the product (on offense) of trying to run their normal offense with their players being pushed out of their normal positions.

    I’m still hopeful that we’ll see a return of the P&R, but it is getting awfully late….

  22. For those asking for more P&R, the Celtics are the best defensive P&R team in the league. Cleveland and Orlando are two of the best teams at running the P&R from an offensive standpoint and they got bounced from the playoffs by Boston. Boston essentially said in the aftermath of game 1 that the Lakers caught them off guard with how much P&R they ran but that they’d adjust in future games. Well, Boston did adjust and the Lakers have gone away from it as a primary action in the offense.

    I’m not saying the P&R can’t be a weapon for the Lakers against the C’s, but it must be used judiciously and when it is used the same concepts of strong screens, hard cuts, and crisp passing still apply. You know, the same things we’re asking for when executing our base offense. People act like the Triangle has been figured out. No shit (pardon the language). Phil’s been running the same sets for 20 years. You don’t think other coaches know exactly what the Lakers are going to run? You think they forget when they look at Phil’s silver mane or get intimidated by Kobe’s death stare and then just let the Lakers run their offense exactly how they like? The Lakers need to get back to running their sets with purpose. They need to pick people off with their screens. They need to cut hard and make the defense respect their movement. Do all of those things and there will be openings. We haven’t seen much of that this entire series, though. That’s why the offense has been ineffective – because when you run it that way against a stifling Boston defense you have little chance to succeed consistently.

  23. Right on Darius.

    I think Phil needs to play this clip during his next video session: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiTyqPFK70M

  24. Celtic fan here.. My thoughts on this series are this: as the series has progressed its become more and more evident that the lakers offense is extremely dependent on pau being extremely efficient, as well as bynum playing very well. After game 3, pau has stopped being as effective, and of course you all know about bynums knee. SO im a little confused why some of you still say the lakers are a better team.. at no point in this series (except MAYBE game 1, but the celtics played god awful) could you have convinced me that the lakers were better for any reason.. i mean the celtics are up 3-2 because THEY have been the better team, if your lakers win 2 games then THEY become the better team. Right now though, the celtics are the better team and thats why you guys are searching for answers. Please stop proclaiming your team better when its not been true. Lookin forward to game 6, and i will say if any crowd for an elimination game has the ability to be taken completely out, it is the lakers crowd, if the celtics go up early i expect the crowd to be very nervous and quiet! just sayin!

  25. Funky Chicken June 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Darius, your post completely ignored the fact that the P&R worked great in the first 2 games, and it (and it alone) accounted for Fisher taking over the fourth quarter of game 3. Do you really think they pulled out a win in game 3 because they were running the triangle?

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that people (like me) are asking for something other than the “judicious” use of the P&R. Of course it should be used judiciously–but it should be used.

    Oh, and yes, other teams probably have a sense what Phil’s teams are going to do, but they don’t have anywhere near Boston’s defensive coaching, talent and intensity to be able to actually stop it. Boston, by contrast, does, and to rigidly adhere to the “PJ has won 10 titles with this offense” mantra is, frankly, juvenile. He has NEVER won the title using this offense against a defense as good as Boston’s.

    But again, don’t listen to me, listen to Jack Ramsay. The Lakers offense has become predictable, and it isn’t because they aren’t cutting hard (and of course they should be doing that, but that isn’t the only answer).

  26. PJ has won 10 championships running the triangle offense. Do you really think he’s going to abandon it in game 6 of the finals?

  27. Nice post in 8 by Funky Chicken.

    Look at it this way: if you were game planning against the Lakers, what would you tell your guys?

    1. Disrupt the post entry into the triangle by pushing Pau off his spots. Bang and body him for 40 minutes.
    2. Pack the paint. Make the Lakers beat you from the perimeter. They lack a true outside bomber, and it can set up transition.
    3. Stay down on Kobe’s fakes and jab steps, stay in front of him, and make him a volume jump shooter.
    4. Make Odom go to his right.
    5. Make Artest and Fisher beat you.
    6. Use a big body or two to bang with Bynum and keep him off deep catches.

    Lobs might be a problem–but of course, Andrew is hurt yet again.

    Every team in the NBA and about 200,000 internet basketball fans/media people know all of this–but Boston, more than any team in the NBA, has the personnel to actually do it. The Lakers have now played this team 17 times in the last three years, and have pretty well-established that they are an 88-95 point team against the Celtics. They get there different ways, but that is where they end up.

    And, an odd mix of people–some hardcore Laker fans and some KobeHaters–sometimes act as if the Celtics are innocent bystanders in this matchup. Nothing could be further from the truth. Boston held Cleveland under 90 three straight times to close them, and held Orlando to 71 in the game that put them up 3-0 and held them to 84 in G6. This is one of the best help-and-recover/contest defenses in NBA history. That is why their defensive coach just was hired for one of the NBA’s plum jobs.

    So, the question is whether the Celtics score 85 or 95 themselves, and that is mostly about how much the Lakers get from Andrew. Boston had 46 points in the paint last night and shot 62.7% on 2s.

    Don’t get me wrong–the Lakers still have a pretty good chance. Boston has a hard time putting points on the board themselves, and I think HCA matters in close-out games. But I agree that calls to “run the triangle” and “want it more” are not going to be enough. I think the Lakers need to show the Celtics a few looks on O that Boston has not seen yet.

    And, given that Phil’s team is now 4-7 in Finals play against this team, one has to wonder if his style of focusing on stability and composure, while proven over time, is the best approach against this particular opponent. Phil might need to pull out a new trick or two tomorrow in his pregame meeting.

  28. 22

    Darius, I don’t know whether or not the triangle has been ‘figured out’. What I do know is that the Lakers haven’t run it particularly well all season, and under the pressure of Boston’s withering D that lack of comfort and cohesiveness is all the more apparent. I would be a lot more confident that the Lakers could ‘get back to running their sets with purpose’ if they had shown that purpose consistently over the last 9 months. How many times over the course of 2009/10 have we seen posts calling for the Lakers execute their offense better?

    I know the Celtics are great pick-and-roll defensive team. They’re also a great team at defending just about everything else. If you want to run a precision offense against them, everyone has to be in sync, or they just force you away from your best options anyway. At least with more P&R the Lakers can better control who is involved in the action. Just because the Celtics have ‘adjusted’ doesn’t mean it should be almost completely abandoned like it has been.

  29. Darius,

    Were you pleased with the cross screening action that brought Pau into the strong side block? I haven’t watched the tape, but my recollection was that Ron either waited too long to make the post entry, or arbitrarily took the ball somewhere else.

    I would like to see Kobe be the cross screener on that action. Why? His man will be reluctant to show or chip, resulting in a cleaner entry for Pau into the block, and an ensuing screen-the-screener action should give Kobe more space on the catch.

  30. Funky Chicken June 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Robinred, well-said. If the Lakers were struggling against the Suns, I would take a different approach, but because the offense is running into the same problems in 2010 that we ran into in 2008, it seems to me that just imploring the team to “do it better” is not likely to be effective. Moreover, it isn’t as if Phil has never deviated from the triangle when it wasn’t working. We’ve all seen him authorize Kobe to go “open” and to space the floor and let KB go to work. Seems that game 6 might be a good time to try something else (judiciously, Darius, judiciously) since the “usual” isn’t working.

    Joel, spot on. It is as unrealistic to expect this team to beautifully run the triangle (for what would practically be the first time all year) in game 6 of the finals as it is to expect them to totally abandon it at this stage. The point about the P&R allowing the Lakers to better control who is involved in the action is absolutely critical. Instead of letting the Celtics dictate who gets open shots (e.g., Artest), we can pick our primary scorers.

    Moreover, the P&R can be used with Kobe and any number of players to help get those players involved in the game. Wouldn’t it be nice to jump start LO or Artest by getting them involved in a P&R? I mean, who could set a better screen for Kobe than Ron? Moreover, with proper spacing, Ron could set a pick for Kobe, who could easily get past Ron’s man, forcing help from a wing defender and opening up a shot for a guy like Sasha. You’d get two role players involved and feeling good about themselves.

    The fact that you can do this judiciously (that word again) while still coming back to the triangle is all the more reason to be frustrated with PJ’s coaching in this series. The unfortunate reality is that our role players need that kind of boost to get into the game (and series), but their coach isn’t giving it to them.

  31. As a coach it is imperative that a team have a thing or two up their sleeve that has not been scouted to death.

    Darius is correct in that at this point in a series there are no changes to be made in the triangle. A more determined effort to execute, cut, rebound, and play defense must be utilized in order to secure this ‘W’!

    Pau is not willing to stay in the post and get brutalized for 10-17 seconds and not receive the pass. The Lakers must find a way to make a good entry pass in the post early in the shot clock. This will cut down on the physical play that is taking place in the post. The Laker bigs must cut from the weak side to the strong side of the ball and receive the post pass immediately. This will keep Boston’s bigs behind them and cause them to run up the Laker bigs back for fouls.

    Boston’s defense forces the refs to ignore 5 out of 6 fouls that they make, and the Celtics will live with getting whistled for one foul if they’re allowed to give up 5 fouls in order to frustrate the Lakers.

    The Lakers must dig deep and play from a gut and will standpoint just as Fisher did in game 3. The Lakers must look like they are going to DUNK EVERYTHING AROUND THE RIM! The refs will be forced to call fouls when they miss. Pau got his shot blocked by Tony Allen because once he got past Garnett he assumed that: a) he was playing against the Lakers defense and b) that no one on Boston’s secondary defense would react and c) no two handed dunk attempt!

    I’m sorry to say that in game 6 win or lose a couple Celtics need to be fouled hard, put a couple of them on their butts for driving into the paint and if they come back again put them on their butts again! Not dirty just hard and effective fouls. Put Mbenga or Powell in there to put someone on their butt!

    HCA is not a magic elixir and the Lakers must not fall into the trap of thinking that it is. In order to win this game they are going to have to play with a determination that they have not shown since game 1 and then double that effort. Boston will be playing this game as a close out game so they will be bringing everything but the kitchen sink to win the championship in game 6. If the Lakers do not match their effort and double it then we will be watching Big Baby slobber, Paul Pierce, Garnett and Robinson screaming, Ray Allen’s look of superiority as they closeout the series and win the championship at the Staples Center.

    And that Laker Nation is something that we nor the Lakers want to witness! The Lakers must and WILL WIN game 6! Why, because there is no alternative!

  32. Hey everyone. Long-time reader, first-time poster.

    I’ve been reading this blog for a few years now and for the most part I enjoyed the posts and authors and even some of the commentors here. I can’t say the same things with what’s going on with the Lakers at this very moment, but I still have belief that they can push this thing to a game seven and win the whole thing in the end. TV hoop “analysts” (the majority of them aren’t really analysts, anyway) and others may be crowning the Celtics champs already, but last time I checked it takes 16 wins (four in the finals) to claim the crown. Neither of those teams aren’t there, and while the road to 2 ‘mo wins for the Lakers has become a little more difficult, don’t think that it won’t be a possibility. Some unexpected things have happened already in these finals; perhaps it’s time the unexpected work in the Lakers favor. Or so I believe.

    My personal answer(s) were laid out in my own personal blog, found here…

    http://misscursive.livejournal.com/2010/06/14/

    (Watch out for the harsh profanity and cynicism!)

    As someone who also follows hockey, I remember a certain hockey team that went to the Finals and faced an old foe who badly defeated them in the past. They once stared at a 3-2 deficit at one point, and the hockey world was crowning their opponents champs then. But this team managed to believe in themselves, push the series to a game seven, and win it all in the end. It was just a year ago, actually, when it all happened. (Oh, how I heart those Penguins. If only they went back-to-back…)

    It’s bad moments like these that naturally turn fans into worry and questioning their team’s championship mettle. But sometimes bad moments can also bring out the best in some. The Lakers aren’t just staring at a 3-2 deficit, but also adversary, and the fools who say they aren’t going to win it anymore. But they’ve managed to overcome it all before. I remember when Bynum badly injured his knee last season, and while everyone in the Laker contingent were bummed out over it, it was all that talk from the sports channels back then on how the Lakers wouldn’t win the championship that year that I remembered. (And boiled my blood.) What happened after that? Oh, a 6-0 road win in the East, Bynum coming back months later, and winning the championship in the end.

    As much as I want a Game 6 Laker win, I want them to win the championship against their old rivals once and for all. But Game 6 must come first. And “wants” can be either honored or denied. We’ll see come Tuesday night.

    I ain’t worrying no more. If anything, I’m making my peace with the situation. But at the same time, I’m also not giving up on them. The Lakers aren’t going down without a fight, and they sure don’t want to be humiliated on their home court, and more so when the C’s are there.

    I’m gonna believe.

    (And for those who are going to the game tomorrow, get as NOISY as you can, like your life depends on it. Even when your team is down.)

    Lakers in 7.

  33. Okay, so we’re on the same page in that the Lakers need to run the P&R with some sort of frequency, but not all the time. The rest of the time that they set up in the half court, what should the Lakers do?

    The Triangle is easy to guard says Funky Chicken who’s repeating what Dr. Jack Ramsay said (a coach who I respect a great deal). And Joel points out that we’ve called for better offensive execution all season due to the Lakers’ lack of ability to effectively run their sets consistently. RobinRed points out that all the things you need to do to limit the Lakers offense, the Celtics are doing pretty well. Good points, all. So what do the Lakers do? I’m asking seriously. Because what I’m calling for is for the Lakers to set better screens, cut harder, and move the ball with more decisiveness and purpose. These are all principles for *any* offense are effective for any offense when done well – including the Triangle.

    So, what would you suggest? I’m just wondering. We’re not going to turn into Phoenix or Orlando or Cleveland and run the P&R 70 times tomorrow. But lets say we run it 30-35 times (which is a fair amount for this Lakers team). What to do on the other 50-60 possessions? I’m seriously asking.

  34. “Odom needs to be a beast on the glass, which we all know he can do.”

    Did we watch the same game? Not singling you out, even if it seems that way, but my question is serious. In 26:17, Lamar was 4-6 from the field with 3 off and 5 def rebounds. You might want to critique the two humans responsible for 31:38 w 3-6 and 1 and 0 on the glass. Bynum got his 1 and only rebound with 9:39 on the clock in the 1st quarter and he scored his last 2 points with 5:28 left in the 1st. He was a complete zero from there on out. No points, no rebounds, no blocked shots, and he didn’t have any assists in any event. He was subbed out for Lamar with 2:39 left in the 1st. Then he starts the 2nd quarter and is again subbed out for Lamar at the 2:42 mark. So that’s 9+ minutes of the 2nd quarter with 0 points and 0 rebounds. Then comes the third quarter, wherein he again started the quarter and once again was subbed out for Lamar at the 2:35 mark. So that’s another 9.5 minutes with 0 points and 0 rebounds. Then in the 4th, Bynum comes in at the 8:25 mark and is subbed out for Pau at the 4:52 mark. So another 3+ minutes with 0 and 0. In total, that’s his last 24 or so minutes with 0 and 0. And some don’t think that Phil was out-coached. Not a question, but a statement. I understand that the Celts shot the ball well, but you are bringing nothing when you’re the tallest soul on the court and your first and last rebound is pulled down at the 9:39 mark of the 1st quarter. Given that it was a rebound and put back, from the 9:39 mark of the 1st quarter onwards, it was 2-5 from the field with 0 rebounds in 29 minutes. That was the ballgame.

  35. I would suggest a few–just a few–new wrinkles, with guys in different spots. Kobe as cross-screener as said. Maybe A little high P/R. Kobe on the block more. A little more high-low with Pau faced up and Andrew looking for the deep catch.

    But at this point in the season, there is a big part of a game that is visceral, not tactical.

  36. Well, the Lakers could start by realizing that there is work to do AFTER dumping the ball to Kobe.

    That’s all I ask.

  37. #35. x1000

  38. In order to win game 6, and if we get there, game 7 the Lakers will have to:

    A) Out rebound the Celtics- This means all 5 players on the court at all times MUST BOX OUT. Find a man and get a behind in their abdomen and box out. This will not only lead to transition points for the Lakers, but will also prevent the Celtics from getting random loose balls and tip-ins. These loose balls/tip-ins can ruin great defensive possessions, and give the Celtics momentum at inopportune times.

    B) Defense- Plan and simple. Played with passion, will power, stregnth, force, and intelligence, no team will lose when playing defense with these adjectives. It’s do or die for the Lakers and now is the time to look in the mirror. It is time to play passionate, balls to the wall defense. There is no way the Celtics should be getting offense easily. With a top 5 NBA defender in Kobe Bryant guarding Rajon Rondo, and a tall and long Andrew Bynum defending a non-threat in Kendrick Perkins, there is no way the Celtics starting 5 should get their way with the Lakers. Fisher is shutting down Ray Allen. The two spots where the Lakers really need to step up is at the 3 and 4. Paul Pierce had his way with Ron Artest in game 5. Kevin Garnett has been getting his way with Pau Gasol as of lately. Pau and Ron need to understand that this is when they need to lay it all out on the line.

    If the Lakers can grind it out in these two categories then they will not lose. In basketball, games are won and lost based on how teams perform in these two areas. It’s what matters when the ball is not in your hands. Boxing out, and defense wins games, especially NBA Championships.

  39. Funky Chicken June 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Darius, the first thing I think we need to a better job of (and I think you have mentioned this before) is pushing the ball up the floor. We waste a lot of time (as much as a third of the shot clock) just getting the ball across half court. Then, our guards usually want to make their first pass in the offense to Kobe, so they wait a second or two for him to get open. By this time, we are often left with 14 seconds or less to actually run the offense. So, let’s start with pushing the ball up the floor (which might have the added benefit of making the Celtic old guys run harder and get more tired…).

    Second, is there a “triangle” reason why our bigs can’t set picks for one another? Seems to me that Perkins gets into Bynum right away, and KG is doing the same to Pau, and the result is that both Laker bigs just get moved out of position and get no screens.

    Third, when Fish makes his (hopefully hard) cut through the lane on his way to the corner, perhaps every so often he can stop under the basket and come back to set a back pick on KG at the elbow to let Pau roll to the rim.

    Fourth, more Sasha in the half court with Laker starters. Seems like there’s a split between those who hate Sasha and those who are merely tolerant of him, but I think he is the Lakers best weapon off the bench to face the Celtics. He spaces the floor, and he doesn’t hesitate to shoot the way Artest does. Moreover, he’s a scrappy guy who is surely going to piss Allen off on the other end of the floor. A couple of “makes” from Sasha and I think the Celtic middle might open up a bit more.

    Fifth, aside from the occasional Fisher back pick on KG, our cutters need to get the hell out of the lane. Last game we saw what happens when Ron goes into the lane and stays there, allowing his man to be in perfect double team position against Drew. The lane is already too clogged, and allowing Celtic wing defenders to hang out in the lane due to lazy cuts by Lakers is just compounding the problem.

    Just some thoughts.

  40. Robinred #35,

    Agree with wrinkles involving guys in different spots. Would like to see some 5-4 P&R with the ball in Lamar’s hands. I don’t think Perkins or Sheed can switch off or show and keep Lamar from turning the corner.

    As to your suggestion of high P&R, I like this in transition as a drag screen before the C’s can load up their defense. We got some good looks from this early, but got away from it.

  41. 33

    Just to be clear, I have no problem with the ‘answers’ you’ve put forth re: the triangle. My post was meant to stand on its own.

    I wouldn’t expect the Lakers to suddenly morph into Phoenix for Game 6. Still, 30-35 P&R possessions would be a major shift in strategy that could make all the difference. What puzzles me is that something which has been proven to be quite effective even in this series has been unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

    For 4 straight games we have been struggling to create good shots consistently. I agree that it helps to simply do what you do better, but I also think we need to see another plan of attack added to the equation.

  42. From Silverscreen and Roll:

    “Staples Center need to ignite. The place needs to friggin’ go off.

    We all saw TD Garden. We all saw US Airways Center before that. We all saw EnergySolutions before that. We all saw the Ford Center. Oh God, we saw the Ford Center. Every single one of them embarrassed the Staples Center crowd.”

    I can’t be there so I’m doing what I can to spread the word. MAKE NOISE. Lots and lots and lots of suffocating and frightening NOISE.

    “Scare these Boston Celtics f**kers back to where they came from.”

  43. If they put Pau in the high post (elbow) for half of his minutes, the wear and tear won’t affect him as much because Boston could care less if he posts up 15 feet from the basket. After all, when he’s trying to post up down low in this series, he always gets pushed higher than he wants. It also leaves room for the P&R with Kobe.

    On the defensive side, I would put Kobe on Pierce in stretches, especially if he isn’t in foul trouble. It’s easy to see that Ron gets worried that Pierce will try to blow by him, so Pierce usually fakes that first step to the basket and gets space for a jump shot. Teams have success against Kobe (relative success) when they defend him by committee. LA should try the same with Pierce.

    Just a couple thoughts

  44. Nick Van Sexel June 14, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Lakers crowd should wear all yellow/gold and bust out the vuvuzuelas tomorrow night. If that happens, I’ll guarantee you it’ll be louder than Energy Solutions and Ford Center combined.

  45. Someone also said on the other thread that the Lakers need to stop trying to steal outlet passes and get back down the floor on transition defense. I totally agree – the Celtics bigs are very good at getting the ball ahead to Rondo, and if Rondo has any numbers advantage at all he is extremely dangerous finding people in transition or getting to the rack himself.

  46. winferd smiley June 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    What it boils down to is the officiating. Celtics will commit 30 fouls and only 3 are called … they call this excellent defense? It is a bunch of crap!!! The only option that the Lakers have is to make their shots. The Celtics have don’t have to make their shots cuz they will get the ball back thru their so called excellent “defense”.

  47. At some point it is about having the will to win, and the nastiness to trade elbows.

    Go Lakers.

  48. I really like the idea of starting “small” with Sasha in for RonRon. Sasha has no fear of taking open 3’s. Kobe slides over and takes PP in Ron’s place. Fish can either stay on Ray or slide over and guard Rondo. I also think that when we get into the penalty that we use our fouls wisely and play a little hack-a-Rondo and hack-a-Perkins. Every other foul against those 2 will be like a turnover considering how bad they are at the line.

    Sasha or Fish can easily play the same defense against Rondo that Kobe does. Fish could potentially be better at it if he lays off and tries to pick up charges.

    Also I can’t agree any more with everyone who thinks we should run more pnr with Kobe/whoever. Another reason I love putting Sasha in is that you could run the pick and roll with him and have him pop out for the 3.

    Ok one last thing and this is going to sound like blasphemy…Big Baby is killing us on the glass right? So why not, if only to experiment a little, bring in Ammo and spread the floor? He will have to guard Ammo out to the 3 pt line and Ammo on defense will need to just sag off of him and make him a spot up shooter. If Big Baby is taking 15-18 footers as the Celts scorer then I am ecstatic.

    Anyway we need to do something, anything, to get Boston out of their comfort zone. So far in this series it seems like the Lakers coaching staff is just reacting to Doc’s moves.( or not reacting)
    We need to make them react to us.

    Lakers in 7 until all hope is lost!

  49. Life’s circumstances are never fair, and the next game – hopefully two – will go a long way toward defining Kobe Bryant’s legacy, yet the sick part is how things turn out is largely beyond his control.

    Like others, I’m sickened by the past two games. Really the past game and a half, since the Lakers were up at the half in game four and people like Michael Wilbon were noting how it was becoming clear that L.A. had the better team, and best two players on the floor.

    Little things went wrong after that; a few bad calls, some bad shots, an untimely lack of hustle and boom – their down two games to three.

    I take solace in the hope that the Lakers aren’t too far removed from their winning ways. It’s not like Boston’s run them off the floor in the past two wins, and if the Lakers make some little adjustments and keep their focus a little more on point to quit giving up second-chance baskets, I firmly believe they can win Tuesday and again Thursday.

    But the scary part is — and I’ve said this all season long — the one thing that I’ve not seen in this year’s squad is that balls-deep desire, that “We will not let you beat us” mentality that fueled them a year ago. It seemed like they’d rediscovered it after the Thunder tied the series, but it’s gone away the past 72 minutes of game time. I just hope it’s not too late to reignite the fire.

    Boston’s not going to get away with the thuggery in L.A. quite so much as they do in Boston, which should bode well for Pau.

    And if the win or lose result is indeed a referrendum on the value of Ariza or Artest, should the Lakers lose my mind will never cease drawing back upon Ron-Ron’s missed “lay-up” and free throws when the team so badly needed points in the fourth quarter of game five. Ariza would have dunked the ball and half of his own arm on that break; Artest went up like a retarded cripple and L.A. walked away with nothing.

    In the end, if Kobe gets shackled with the, “Yeah, but he never beat Boston” tag it’s just a shame. If they drop this series, it’s not looking like he’s the one who deserves any blame. But like Clint Eastwood said in “Unforgiven,” “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

  50. Early in the game, I want to see Rondo put down on his ass with a hard foul. Knock him down and then do it again when he comes in the paint again. Has he hit the floor even once from a hard foul?
    You have to at least make then THINK that they’re going to get hit if they go into the paint.

  51. Unfortunately, this series has been the dual dynamic of matchup problems meets who’s hungriest, exacerbated by Bynum’s fading health.

    The Lakers we see in this finals are the Lakers we have seen all year, lethal in moments, but then losing focus, and with disturbing periods of piss-poor execution.

    Last year, they won the big games, they closed strong, they were marked by consistent periods between 3rd/4th where they squeezed the life out of the competition and they just had their eyes on the prize from beginning to end (a couple of lumpy playoff rounds, notwithstanding).

    I give the Lakers credit for playing hard. It’s not like they are lolly-gagging, but the lack of discipline has been a problem all year, and they are facing a foe that is more focused, more disciplined, and generally playing a better team game.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am PRAYING for a different outcome tomorrow, but I have always believed that a tiger doesn’t change its stripes. Whereas I took solace in that knowledge last year (esp. in the rocky moments), this year it only deepens my doubt.

    That is not to say they can’t or won’t win tomorrow. Only that gravity is not their friend.

    FINGERS CROSSED FOR AN INSPIRING TEAM WIN BY THE LAKERS TOMORROW.

    Mark

  52. @44:

    vuvuzuelas…

    Noise, baby, noise!!!

    DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/emayoh/3635860463/

  53. Must say the last two games put a scare in me on the Lakers behalf, and the main reason is that besides Kobe our other main strength – our combination of speed, size and skill inside – seems to be disappearing.

    Odom is looking more and more like a Rashard Lewis without a jumpshot, and Bynum just doesn´t have the lift.

    Odom was really trying and Bynum is just a warrior. But at the end of the day, Gasol often has for the last couple of games done all the heavy lifting for the Lakers inside, and in game 5 that seemed to be getting to him.

    Bynum just doesn´t have the speed and lift to contest drives as he used to, and on offense he also displays his lack of lift and got blocked by a standing Pierce twice.

    Kobe might have to keep going for those weakside blocks, maybe Brown can contribute here!? Maybe Powell needs to lock a few minutes to spell Gasol. Something has to happen inside, as Gasol cannot be Lakers´ entire interior defense AND offensive initiator at the same time…

  54. I can not fathom the thought of the Celitcs taking the Larry O’Brien trophy, on the court of Staples Center, EVER… It would be an unbelievable unpleasant finish to this season. I will love the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers forever though, no matter what happens this week. I do believe that they will take games 6 and 7 from the C’s this year in the NBA 2010 Finals.

    “You have no control over what the other guy does. You only have control over what you do.” – A. J. Kitt

    GO LAKERS…

  55. Hey everyone, keep hope alive! Here are a couple of things I think the lakers have going for them.

    • In the 2010 playoffs, the lakers have won twice on their home court after dropping two in a row on the road (OKC & PHX)

    • Boston’s geriatric squad has lost both of its games following a cross country flight.

    • What goes up must come down (see Allen, Ray). Boston has shot lights out as a team (albeit largely uncontested), and are due for an offensive letdown game.

    • Reserves typically play much better at home. I’d surprised if a couple of celtics didn’t accidently leave their jump shot behind.

    The lakers will gut it out in game 6 and anything can happen in 7

    peace

  56. So I read through these posts and Darius’ subsequent comments… these are my general observations. Call me old but there’s times I really miss the 80s and 90s style basketball. Maybe I don’t miss all the thuggery but I do miss the higher level of intelligence that came with players of that era. Face it, if guys like Farmar, Brown, Sasha, even Lamar to some extent played with 1/2 the smarts and effort that Lakers bench guys of the 80 and 90s did, most of you wouldn’t be wanting to trade them for better players… To paraphrase Doc Rivers, you can’t cut corners and not expect it to bite you in the ass later on. I’m not even a Kobe fan but he was dead-on in his postgame interview after game 5. Nut up and play your ass off, don’t bitch about the referees, leave it all out there and then if you lose, you know you lost to the better team.

    I think most of you in here attempt to take a logical approach regarding what your team can do to fix its ailments. Best of luck to both sides tomorrow night, may the best team win.. This is coming from a T-Wolves\Blazers fan.

  57. let’s do this! 2 mo’ baby….P&R, both defensive and offensive rebound, better offense and tighter defense will be the key factors to defeat the C’s….GO Lakers!!!

  58. Darius,

    I agree with you in all fronts, except, nobody gets intimidated with Kobe’s death stare. That line made me laugh so hard.

  59. @Darius 33 on the PNR:

    “…lets say we run it 30-35 times (which is a fair amount for this Lakers team). What to do on the other 50-60 possessions? I’m seriously asking.”

    Well, how about running Kobe a bit on the baseline? Ray Allen style. Seriously, the man is on fire on his jumper, imagine if he actually had room to breathe as he goes up…

    …and, since the Celtics are all thinking Kobe, dreaming Kobe, sweating Kobe, fearing Kobe, they would constantly be looking over their shoulders to see if the assassin was closing in on them.

    Get the ball in Odom´s hands, let him look for his own drive while running Kobe of screens on the baseline. Let Gasol be a screener, drop off option for Odom and offensive rebounder, taking some of the pressure of him.

    And where did the Kobe post-up iso on the pinch-post go? Pushed out of the finals by Ray Allen´s defense? Or by Garnetts overload? It is a lethal play because it opens up the lanes for cutters so beautifully.

    And by the way… more Jordan Farmar. He has a legitimate three point shot, and has played some great defense on Rondo, giving him a different look than Kobe´s savannah defense.

  60. “Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we’ve got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I’ll take that.”- KOBE BEAN BRYANT. Now Am confident that the Lakers will win this one!

  61. A bit off-topic, but I think this is the type of speech Phil needs to deliver before game 6:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4tIrjBDkk

  62. I am confident Lakers win tonight.
    GO LAKERS!

  63. The answer is the Lakers are looking for is simple: defense. Look, the Celtics are indisputably a great defensive team. So to me it seems silly to think we’re going to see some sort of free flowing offense that generates layups and wide open shots. The difference between 2008 and 2010 is that the Lakers are a better team defensively. This is where games 4 and 5 were lost–our inability to get stops when we needed them. If the Lakers can do this tonight, they will win, even if they have to struggle to get points on the other end. Defense–that’s the answer.

  64. @53

    “• What goes up must come down (see Allen, Ray). Boston has shot lights out as a team (albeit largely uncontested), and are due for an offensive letdown game. ”

    That exact same logic could be used to see Ray Allen will find his shot in one of these games. The guy is a career 40% shooter from 3, do you really expect him to continue throwing up 0fers and shooting 27% on the series?

    Bottom line: The ways Boston has beaten LA in games 4 and 5 were without Ray Allen. Now even if Paul doesn’t have another 27 point game in him, even if KG doesn’t throw up another 18/10 game, any production from Ray at all could still balance that out.

  65. Allow me to echo everyone that is screaming for the Lakers to push the ball up the court more. Stop walking it across with 17 seconds left on the shot-clock and Boston completely set.

    That might be OK when Drew is in because he can’t move that well, but when Odom comes in he, Kobe, and PG-du-jour cannot just walk the ball up. Pau can run the floor and does so as well as any big man in the game. There’s nothing left to conserve for, so push it up. Make Garnett chase Gasol to our basket. We’ve all been asking for this all series, and it just needs to happen now.

    Another thing I was thinking of while watching Boston repeatedly run the P&R between KG and PP to get a mismatch of Artest on KG and Gasol on PP (in two games now Pau has closed to double KG and left PP wide open for the 3) is why aren’t we trying something similar? I mean, other than the fact that Ron right now doesn’t look like he could hit a bull in the ass with a shovel. If we can get a switch of KG onto Artest with PP forced to guard either Gasol or Odom in the post, then either our big has the ability to take Pierce in the post, or KG doubles off of Artest.

    We don’t even really need Artest to hit a shot here, as the Celtics’ defense is predicated on not doubling or trapping. So a double-team is a win. With another action off the ball – maybe a second screen with Artest and Kobe, you can force Garnett to guard Kobe in space.

    I don’t know. I’ve been working through college-level math stuff at work now for an hour without coffee and my brain is potentially mushed out.

  66. Defensively the Lakers just need a few adjustments – and Darius already pointed out that it all comes down to basics.

    Ron Artest needs to live on top of Paul Pierce and needs to funnel him to help. He’s not been doing as good of a job as forcing Pierce away from his favorite spots. Part of me worries that this is the moment overwhelming Artest…but that’s what we need him to do.

    I think that some of what we suffered in the last game was some hot outside shooting from Rondo. There were several jumpers I saw him make (after one of them he was shouting the whole “Can’t guard me” thing at Kobe, who had been playing about 6 feet off of Rondo) that, honestly I think the team feels they can live with him taking. Yes his jumper is improved, but not 7-12 improved.

    I do think that we’re going to see occasions of Kobe suddenly closing and forcing Rondo to give up the ball and let someone else create, but for the most part Kobe’s defense on Rondo has been correct and we just need everyone else to mark an offensive player and stick with them (I’m looking at you, Lamar “I somehow missed Ray Allen standing under the hoop right next to me after that off-ball screen” Odom).

    I think that some of our less disciplined defenders have a problem staying focused while Rondo dribbles down the clock at the top of the key.

  67. Not that it matters, the refs for tonight – Monty McCutchen, Joe DeRosa, Ken Mauer

  68. This may have been noted already, but since his outburst in Game 2, Ray Allen, including part of Game 2, has missed 18 consecutive three-point attempts. That is in part better Lakers D on him, (perhaps at a cost) and in part a statistical correction.

    But, unfortunately, statistical probability, as well as common sense, dictate that another correction is due, and Allen, it would seem, is very likely to have another game in which he knocks down a few 3s. This is something to watch for tonight, given how much trouble the Lakers have scoring against this team. One more streak from Allen could end the series.

    The internet basketball punditry is very divided over Kobe’s run in Game 5. John Hollinger’s latest says that Kobe is on track to be the first series MVP from a lsoing team since The Logo in 1969, which would be an excruciating historical parallel for Lakers fans. Neil Paine at BaskRef called Kobe’s game “valiant.” Matt Moore and Kevin Pelton, OTOH, were much more lukewarm and/or negative about it, saying it disrupted flow, hurt the team D, etc. A few others have flat-out attacked Kobe.

  69. Charley Rosen on the Boston defense
    –sort of a longer version of my post in #27:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/Boston-Celtics-take-control-with-smart-defense-061410

  70. Comments have been deleted and moderated. We don’t allow baiting comments because they often spawn petty debates that have little to do with anything basketball related and are often just not-so-subtle digs at the commenter or the opposing fans. They’re rarely intelligent or worth reading. I don’t care about that BS and most others don’t either.

  71. Looking at replays of last couple of games, there is little off the ball movement and a lot of standing around on the perimeter of the Laker offense. It’s easy to play a semi-zone when the offense cooperates.

  72. there is little off the ball movement and a lot of standing around on the perimeter of the Laker offense.
    __

    Yes, there is truth in that. The question, or one, is “Why is that happening?”

  73. Will Queensbridge brothers show up tonight?

  74. I really don’t know. It just seems that there used to be more back cuts and people comming off screens and now they seems to want to dump it into Kobe or Pau and expect something to happen.

    I always was under the impression that in the Triangle, if one thing is not open you reverse the ball and probe somewhere else. It seems like the Lakers (as has been pointed out) are slow geting into the offense and if the set doesn’t work they jack up a forced shot.

    One thing for sure, the “shooters”, including Ron and Lamar, need to take good shots without hesitation, otherwise move the ball.

    But given that the Laker staff has seen everthing for years and years, there must be some more complex problem.

  75. I’m comfortable with where the Lakers are right now. This is going to be my final post here of ther season.

    For two consecutive games now the Lakers haven’t recieved squat for scoring from anyone other than Kobe or Pau. Even Pau had a shotty game 5. In spite of this, the Lakers have been in striking distance late in the game and furthermore, have lost due to mistakes and lack of execution. If the Lakers can’t come home and 1) execute better down the stretch and 2) get more than 2 players scoring in double figures then they don’t deserve to win.

    Also, all of these x’s and o’s issues we are discussing – I’m confident Phil know what needs to be taken care of. Let’s just hope they pull thier heads out by 6PM this evening.

    Lastly, my biggest problem with game 5 was the lack of effort. I understand they weren’t anywhere near fresh after Phil played the starters heavy minutes in game 4 in attempt to step on the C-Words’ necks. If a Trophy-Crazed Kobe Bryant and the home crowd can’t get the rest of the team up to play with hustle they don’t deserve to win.

    It’s been up and down like this all season and it’s wearing me down. All of the unkowns going into each game (Bynum’s impact, LA’s bench contributions, Fisher, the officiating) have left me lost when it comes to making predictions so here’s my final wild-ass-guess try at it: Lakers by 18 tonight and take home the trophy 103-92 on Thursday. Suck it C-Words.

  76. This post details and concentrates on the the Laker positives and ignores altogether the opponent’s ability to counter and execute , as if Boston passively will allow L.A. to play its game and will not do offensively what has worked for itself. The Lakers cannot in fact be themselves against this club, whose coaching staff has made effective adjustments and whose players have studied the opposition and stepped up, e.g., the Pierce-Artest matchup. The Celts have proven quick enough studies and adaptable through series with this season’s no. 1, 2, and now 3 teams. The Lakers have greater length and (arguably) athleticism, but they also have a predictable, post-oriented inside-outside offense that the Celts now clearly can disrupt, while the screen-oriented ball movement Boston offense, which incidentally involves far quicker decision-making and execution than we’ve seen from L.A., has proven difficult for L.A. to defend, especially as it has negated the height advantage of the L.A. bigs. To a player (and a coach) Boston is actually outsmarting the Lakers on the court despite the whole eastern physical ball vs. finesse angle. No normal person can predict the outcome, but If the teams effectively execute their strategies for this series, not for the season in general, I like Boston’s chances for the title.

  77. I do have one specific suggestion:

    The C’s are playing the passing lanes to prevent the Lakers from reversing the ball. So what to do? Dribble penetration isn’t something we are really constructed for.

    But maybe when the ball is thrown into the post to Pau, Kobe or Andrew, they are holding the ball too long looking to make moves. Instead, if something is not there right away, pass the ball out to the perimeter and that player can reverse it right away or dribble and reverse the ball.

    Then the C defense has to rotate 3 times in the space of a few seconds, to the post player, on the pass back out and then on the subsequent pass. The odds of incorrect spacing by the defense increase greatly under those circumstances, thus opening up offensive options.

    This way you don’t throw cross-court passes to be picked off by Rondo or Pierce and the ball movement is easier.

    Or, have the Lakers tried this already?

  78. But maybe when the ball is thrown into the post to Pau, Kobe or Andrew, they are holding the ball too long looking to make moves. Instead, if something is not there right away, pass the ball out to the perimeter and that player can reverse it right away or dribble and reverse the ball.

    ___

    This sounds good in theory, but the nature of low-post play is that it takes a few seconds. You have to read where the guy on you is in terms of space; you have to square up your body. You have to look for the double team. You have to get position.

    Also, as noted, Pau has been getting pushed off his spots. People (here and in the media) say “The Lakers need to get the ball inside” but the problems are:

    1. Boston knows that.
    2. Boston is good at reducing or compromising passing angles.
    3. The Lakers are not a great passing team. Gasol and Odom pass pretty well for big men; Kobe is above-average. Fisher is OK. Artest, Brown and Bynum are poor. The two best passers on the team, Walton and Farmar, get low minutes or DNPs (for legit reasons).
    4. The Lakers do not have perimeter shooters that scare anyone, except for Laker fans.

    So, what I see happening a lot is that the team will come down (slowly, as noted) and get into the set with about 18 on the shot clock. The guy on the wing will look at Pau while he wrestles with Wallace or Garnett or Perkins, and either

    a) give up and swing the ball
    b) give it to Pau about 16 feet from the basket

    Who will then take a 2-3 seconds and see where he is. This is part of how the team gets into “Kobe ball.”

    So, what to do? I would like to see, as I said, more high/low action with Lamar or Pau in the high post and Pau or Andrew or Kobe in the low post. I would alos like to see Kobe on the block with Lamar on the wing. If the big cheats down on Kobe, let Lamar pop the jumper off his left hand (not a lot but enough to keep the D honest). If the big stays high on Lamar, give Kobe the ball or let Lamar attack off the dribble.

  79. @79 Re: Quick post moves.

    The other thing you’re missing is that big men have to let the off-ball movement run through before they make their move in the post.

    Perfect example of this is when Bynum made a quick move off the entry in Game 5, Artest was clearing through off a back cut, and sine Bynum moved to quickly, Pierce (Artest’s defender) was right there, who just position on the baseline, cut off the spin, and trapped him, the result was a jump ball.

    Bigs need to catch, position, let the movement settle, feel if/when there will be a double team, and make the right read/move. No easy task.

    Pau is probably the most talented big-man in the game in that post. But he’s allowing defenders to move him off his spots and take him out of rhythm when he catches the ball. The other factor is the fact that he’s just not getting enough touches to get into that rhythm, and the blame for that, you have to look at Kobe Bryant for.

  80. Ron-ron is killing the Lakers efficiency by:

    a) Disrupting the triangle,
    b) Not defending Pierce as well as expected,
    c) Taking stupid shots (look at his stats).

    Kobe and Pau are fine.

    Celtics in 7.

  81. So saying that Rondo needs to be fouled hard when he goes in the paint is worthy of moderation and deletion?

    wow