In Sunday night’s game 2, you saw one team get back to the fundamentals of their style of play – the Celtics. Their defensive game plan led to cut off passing angles, which forced ball handlers to extend their dribble, which led to too many forced jumpers that ultimately missed. And then the Celtics took those misses the other direction and used their transition game and semi-fast break to get themselves good looks at the basket and behind the arc and 103 points in a winning effort. This has been the Celtics winning formula for three seasons now; they got back to basics and it led to a victory.
Now, it’s the Lakers turn to do the same thing. They too must get back to playing their game and executing their schemes at a level that got them to the point where they are now. And for me that means doing these things (among others):
1). Running an “offense” and not relying on “plays”. In game 1, the Lakers executed the high P&R to near perfection. They consistently compromised the C’s help schemes where either Kobe or one of the Lakers bigs got a good shot at the basket. It was a great “play” that the Lakers milked to great success. However, when that play was taken away (by a great P&R defensive team, btw – how do you think they dispatched Cleveland and Orlando?) the Lakers settled too often on penetration (which was rarely open) and jump shooting (which was rarely successful). The part of their game that was not explored frequently enough was the post game that opens up all of their offensive options in the Triangle. In game 3, the Lakers must get back to initiating their sets through the post and letting Gasol work against Garnett. After the ball goes into the post they then need to cut and screen with purpose in order to get the Celtics defense moving and shifting. It’s these motions that will open up the court for Gasol and also free up players on the weak side to get good shots for themselves. Also, if the post entry is not there, the Lakers must do a better job of reading the defense and making quick decisions with the ball. Too often the Lakers held the ball for that extra second, throwing off the timing of their sets and making it so the Celtics were able to recover and contest passing and penetration lanes. In one of the Lakers timeouts, Phil Jackson implored his team to “move the ball around and then penetrate against the closing out defender”, but too often the Lakers tried to penetrate first. This process needs to be inversed if they’re to be successful in game 3. This leads us too…
2). Do not settle for the outside jumper. This has been an ongoing theme these playoffs, but the Lakers still fall back on this bad habit. Every post-season opponent has wanted the Lakers to take outside jumpers, rebound the missed shots, and then get the ball to a dynamic point guard that could then push the ball back against a scrambling transition defense. Rondo is now the 4th straight PG that has enjoyed executing this defensive plan (joining Westbrook, Williams, and Nash) and reaped the benefits from how it has translated to offensive success for his team. If the Lakers are to slow down the C’s transition and early offense opportunities, they’ll need to show more discipline in their shot selection and not settle for the jumps hot nor put themselves in a position where a jumps hot against the shot clock is their only offensive option. I understand that the Lakers can’t properly play offense without taking some outside shots. But those shots should be the byproduct of good ball movement and, essentially, wide open shots. Because if they’re not, we’ll see the C’s transition game flourish. Making this next point even more important…
3). Maintain discipline and awareness in transition defense. As was the case in the Phoenix series, the Celtics wing players don’t run for layups, they run to the three point line. On several occasions last night, the Lakers wings lost sight of this fact and recovered to the paint and allowed shooters to get good looks from behind the arc in the open court. Some of these shots missed so the Lakers, in a sense, were lucky. When the Celtics return home, the Lakers can’t rely on those shots rimming out. So, the Lakers wings must find their man early in transition and then latch onto him so he doesn’t receive the ball for an easy shot. Meanwhile the Lakers bigs must get on their horse and sprint back to help build the wall so that Rondo doesn’t easily get into the lane. An act that allows him to get lay ups or collapse the Lakers defense. Too many times in game 2, the Lakers bigs (I’m looking at you Odom) contested outlet passes rather than busting tail back the other way. Staying behind the ball does the Lakers transition defense no good; the Lakers bigs must get back and help their wings against an advancing Rondo in the open court.
4). After stops, secure the rebound. I’m going to keep bringing this up because it’s important: no rebounds, no rings. Pat Riley knew of what he spoke. Before game 2, Phillip sent me this message in an email:
Rebounds may decide this series more than any other difference discussed between this year and ’08. In 2008, the Celtics grabbed .266 percent of their offensive rebounds and .744 percent of their defensive rebounds. A trend that I’ve noticed in the past is that, if you add up those two numbers from any team, it will give you a good idea of how well a team rebounds. If that number is above 1, that team is generally a very good rebounding team, if it’s at 1, or right around one, it’s a good rebounding team, and if it’s below 1, that team is a poor rebounding team.
If you add up the numbers for the ’08 Celtics, it’s at exactly 1. This year, however, the Celtics rebounding numbers are down significantly to .738 of defensive rebounds and .228 of offensive rebounds, giving them a number of .966. From 1 to .966 may not seem like a significant drop at face value, but you should understand that that .34 drop means a drop from the league’s second best rebounding team to the league’s second worst rebounding team. The Lakers on the other hand have gone from .997 in ’08 to 1.02 this season. While I don’t expect Pau Gasol to out rebound Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis again, I do think the Lakers will continue to out rebound the Celtics, and if they continue to out rebound them by 10+, I see the Lakers putting themselves in a great position to continue winning games.
Last night the Lakers lost the rebounding battle by 5 and subsequently the game. I understand that some of that had to do with the fact that the Lakers only shot 40%, so there were a lot of rebounds for the C’s to gather in. However, Boston only shot 42% from the field and the Lakers gave up 13 offensive rebounds, several of them late in the game where securing the ball with a chance to score was pretty important.
These are just a few of the things that the Lakers need to do better, but they’d be a great start. The Lakers are now at a point where they must strip their game plan back down and start to do the little things. As John Wooded told us “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” In game 2, the Lakers didn’t do enough of the little things and it cost them dearly. So in game 3, they must get back to the basics as doing so will reset the tone for them to play winning basketball.
You are absolutely correct throughout this post.
Championship teams dominate the defensive glass. Heck, you can probably skip reading the final score and just look at who won the battle of the boards to know the tale of the game. This is especially true considering these teams will get to the line and turn the ball over at similar clips.
Secondly, the fact that it’s their best way of scoring is only one of many reasons why the Lakers need to find the bigs, especially Pau, in the post. Seriously, every time Pau caught the ball in the post, something good happened. On top of this, even if they don’t get a basket or draw a foul, they are better equipped to get back on transition when the laker guards are floor spacers and cutters as opposed to ball handlers.
The drives from the Laker guards must come from ball movement. Boston simply will not give up penetration on the strong side. It just won’t happen.
Finally, Pau and Andrew drew a ton of fouls against Boston’s bigs. Going to them early and often will mean that touch fouls on the Cs late in quarters will mean free throws for guys like Kobe instead of sideline out of bounds with 14 seconds on the clock.
The Laker bench needs to bring some common sense on the court with them. Farmar cannot trail Rondo after Rajon grabs a board. Transition defense isn’t about showing 80 feet away from the opponent’s basket and getting blown by (I’m talking to you Farmar) or contesting outlet passes (I’m talking to you Lamar) or running back into the paint without finding your man (I’m talking to you Shannon). I found myself screaming “Get back!” at the TV almost every possession in this game.
On multiple occasions, the Laker guards tried to leak out in transition, hoping for the laker bigs to secure the defensive glass. This is unacceptable. Many of the Cs offensive rebounds were long rebounds, meaning they are up for grabs for all the small guys. But Rondo got all of those. The Celtic bigs may not have rebounded well but they sure as heck made sure the laker bigs couldn’t get to the ball. So when you see Rondo swarming in and grabbing rebounds at the free throw line, you are really seeing an undisciplined laker backcourt getting out in transition prematurely.
Again, win the glass, win the series.
This will come across blasphemously here, but Rondo reminds me of Magic with the speed in which he turns defensive rebounds into transition opportunities. Along with maybe Jason Kidd in his prime I think Magic was the best ever at starting his own break by getting the rebound on the run – he’d be at halfcourt in one dribble and the break would finish with a Worthy slam before the other team even realized what was going on.
Rondo doesn’t have those kind of finishers in the lane but he has the same mentality and arguably even better footspeed when he gets the rebound himself. The Lakers need to be aware of that. Even if boxing out extra on Rondo means letting someone like Davis or Garnett get the rebound, it needs to be done. The Celtics don’t seem to be nearly as effective running when they have to make an outlet pass.
In regards to the end of the game, I reviewed it, and I don’t think “kobe ball” was as much to blame as everyone thinks.
Phil Jackson noted what happend in his presser (a poster on Lakersground transcribed, I guess):
“One of them started out kind of from an offensive foul, Drew got a call for an offensive foul. I still don’t know about that one. That was dubious. But he set a pick that bounced off it. Ron tried to force the ball into Pau Gasol and threw the ball away, and then we had another sequence of ?? I don’t remember exactly what the turnover was, but that kind of set them off and set the game off and turned it around in that sequence.”
I know Darius is going to breakdown the last two minutes later, but this is how the Lakers lost control of the game during the last FIVE minutes:
Kobe has just made a three point play to put the Lakers up 88 to 85, but then Rondo answers with a layup, Kobe hits another jumper, but Rondo makes another layup (and by the way, all of these Rondo layups are partially because Kobe was playing with 5 fouls and didn’t want to pick up his 6th).
5 min left – 90 to 89 Lakers
Andrew Bynum (DUBIOUS) moving screen call
4:16 Ray Allen misses three point attempt
3:55 Kobe misses jumper where he pulls up short to avoid a charge
3:19 – Deathly sequence where Pau Gasol blocks Perkins jump hook, and instead of grabbing the ball, he tries to tap to Kobe, but instead taps it right to Rondo who scores.
91 – 90 – Celtics Lead
3:05 – KG picks up his fifth foul wrestling with Pau in the post.
2:59 – Ron Artest throws the ball away trying to force it into Pau – what’s interesting to note upon review is that KG was literally holding Pau by the waist when the pass was thrown, but the refs didn’t want to give KG his 6th foul, so it resulted in a turnover. KG picking up his 5th actually helped the Celtics.
2:38 – Kevin Garnett makes two point shot.
93 – 90 Celtics
2:14 – Another deathly sequence. Fisher has an open (abeit long) two point attempt, but instead steps back to take a three pointer (trying to tie the game in one shot), giving Rondo a chance to recover and block the shot from behind and ignite a fast break.
2:06 – Kobe, with 5 fouls, gets back and single handedly stops Boston’s fast break, only he loses control of the ball out of bounds (partially because Ray Allen grabbed his arm).
1:59 – Ray Allen misses a jumper and the play where KG clearly knocks the ball out of bounds happens. The refs call it out on Pau. They then decide not to review it and stick to one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen.
1:50 – Celtics inbound and Rajon Rondo knocks down a wide open 20 foot jumper (a shot it looks like the Lakers were hoping he would take not MAKE).
95 – 90 – Celtics (do you see what a huge play that call was? Lakers were down three with the ball. Instead they’re down 5. Amazing.)
1:35 – This was the final DEATH play. If the Lakers calmly run their offense and score two, they’re only down 3 with time left to get back into it, but Kobe forces up a three (and in his defense, he’s made that shot quite a few times) and misses.
1:21 – Lakers get scrambled on defense leading to a Perkins layup.
97 to 90 Boston
1:12 – Kobe forces up a jumper and misses. Pau fouls Perkins who only makes 1 out of 2 free throws.
98 to 90 Boston
:56 – Ron Artest dribbles around aimlessly and jacks up a terrible shot, but Pau gets the rebound and
:52 – Kobe finally connects on a three pointer
98 to 93
:47 – Lakers scramble the Celtics and actually force a turnover…except that Monty McCutcheon decides to give Ron Artest his 6th foul despite the fact that he made almost ZERO contact with Rajon Rondo. So just to be clear, it’s cool to give Artest his 6th foul, but not KG during the sequence that happend with 2:59 left? By the way, this phantom foul call essentially kills any Laker chance at a comeback. Rondo makes 1 of 2.
:39 – Rondo strips Kobe from behind as he’s coming down the court. Here’s what’s amazing: Artest just got called for his SIXTH FOUL for WAY LESS contact, but there is no call on Rondo.
:33 – Rondo is intentionally fouled and makes 1 of 2.
100 to 93 Celtics
:28 – Now in full desperation mode, Kobe lauches another 3 and misses.
:26 – KG is intentionally fouled and makes 2 of 2
102 to 93 Celtics
:17 – WAY in desperation mode, Pau launches a 3 and misses.
:16 – Perkins is intentionally fouled and makes 1 of 2
103 to 93 Celtics
:10 – Pau is intentionally fouled by Paul Pierce while attempting to make his first inside look in forever. He makes 1 of 2 free throws.
103 to 94 Celtics
00: – Celtics dribble out the clock.
So in reviewing the last five minutes, what really happened?
Things the Lakers COULD control:
1) Pau Gasol blocking Perkins’ shot, then tipping it to Rondo instead of just grabbing it.
2) Derek Fisher steps back to try to tie the game with a three pointer instead of taking the open 2 pointer, and gets his shot blocked.
3) Down 5 with 1:35 left, Kobe impatiently jacks up a 3 instead of running the offense and trying to get back in the game when there was still time to do so.
4) Down 7 with 1:12 Kobe tried to drive and force up a jumper, but the Lakers were in desperation mode, and I think he was trying to score as quickly as possible.
Things the Lakers COULD NOT control:
1) The moving screen call on Bynum that started the Celtics’ final run…a play the Celtics had been getting away with the whole game against Fish.
2) With 2:59 left, KG was allowed to bear hug Pau Gasol so he couldn’t receive the entry pass from Ron Artest, resulting in a turnover.
3) The KG out of bounds sequence with 1:59 left.
4) The awful 6th foul call on Ron Artest with :47 left, but the game was about over at that point.
So at the end of the day, the Lakers absolutely could have played better down the stretch (to me, the hasty 3 pointer by Kobe with 1:35 left sticks out), but there was also a lot of things that happened that were not in their control.
The Lakers are in a great deal of trouble.
I have said it before, and will say it again now, the 2-3-2 format greatly helps the team with the weaker record.
They get to play three home games, first. If both teams hold their home court advantage for Games 1 – 5, then the team that “won home court” during the regular season has in fact won the right to play two elimination games in a row. This can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the team with the better record.
Hopefully the Lakers can get back to what works (although why would now be any different?) and get two wins in Boston.
fan the man says
the ‘only’ guy who can beat us is ray allen. stop him and hoist the trophy, otherwise… trade kobe to the brooklyn nets and make artest the player coach
I’ve deleted your other comment. I’m sure you know which one I speak of. You can email me off-line if you want further explanation. Click the “contact me” button in the right hand side bar.
Rick Fox takes the time to write an article for ESPN:
I think the comparison to 2004 is a little off. The game we won that year (Game 2) came on a miracle run at the end of the game. We were outplayed, as I remember it, for most of those first two games.
This year, I think our team clearly outplayed the C’s in Game 1. And before we tightened up and stopped moving the ball, we had the resilience to weather one of the greatest shooting performances in playoff history. I don’t think we’re nearly as overmatched as we were in 2004, but I can understand what Fox is trying to say. If you allow panic and over-analysis to halt smooth ball movement and flow, then there’s always a danger of something like 04 happening.
Gr8 Scott says
I’m sure you’ve all heard about Pierce’s statement to the fans during the game that the green meanies aren’t coming back to LA. How awesome would it be if he were right – only to see us reel off three straight wins in their gym?
Just another reason to dislike Pierce. Nothing like talking smack after you’ve done very little to contribute to a win. Game 3 will go the Cs way with calls – it’s up to our veterans to lead the way and for our younger players (Bynum, Brown, Farmar, Sasha) to play poised and with patience. A win for us puts the pressure squarely back on Beantown’s shoulders. Bottom line – better D and control the boards and we will be in the mix for game 3.
For what it’s worth, here’s Ray Allen’s 08′ and 2010 3pt performances against us.
gm1: 2-6 gm1: 0-2
gm2: 3-6 gm2: 8-11
gm6: 7-9 (I don’t hold any stock in that game.)
As you can see, Ray shoots under 50% in half of the games we have played between 08 and these finals. On the flip side, he has had outstanding performances nearly 40% of the time (seen in games 3 and 6 in 08′ and game 2 yesterday.) Althogh the MOST IMPORTANT STAT IS, when he shoots more than 6 3pointers, he has only had one performance where he’s not excelling well over 50% ! That is amazingly good. If we can keep him in that 0-6 attempt range, we have a great chance of keeping him around 40-50% shooting.
My opinion would be to give him different looks on the defensive end. Force him to post up Derek a little more, try to deny Rondo in bounds passes so Allen has to bring up the ball, or slack off of him just enough so he will want to take a shot with running in his maze of screens. If we let him keep playing in his comfort zone there will be slim to no chance that he’ll faulter on the offensive end. I’m confident that we’ll make the proper adjustments on Ray. Let’s just hope his confidence isn’t so high that it doesn’t even matter.
Pig MIller says
The Lakers will shock everyone and win game three. It won’t even be close.
Darius, what are your thoughts on more lock-and-trail with Ray on those curl screens? Get on his hip and take the same space he takes around the screen. The advantage is it gives the screener very little, if any, time/room to move illegally into the defender, and it eliminates the “fade” Ray executes so well when we come over the top of the screen.
The downside is that is gives Ray the opportunity to catch and curl to the lane. I would rather him shoot the curls than those momentum building 3’s.
#12. I think that’s the strategy that needs to be employed and then the Lakers have to help and recover when he puts the ball on the floor. However, if the Lakers are going to try to vary how they play him off those screens, the most important aspect of it all is communication. Too many times Fish got killed on screens and neither Pau nor Drew rotated out to Allen and he had easy, uncontested looks. In those instances where Fish is caught up, that needs to be recognized sooner and the Lakers bigs need to adjust and react to that by switching on to Ray (like Bynum did when Ray airballed that three attempt).
10 – I think that interpretation might be implying causation where there really is only correlation. I don’t think holding him to fewer shot attempts brings down his percentage necessarily; I think that’s looking at it backwards. More likely, when Allen is in a good rhythm, he’s far more likely to shoot – that’s why his best percentages are also with high 3FGAs. When his shot is off, he likely stops chucking and looks for other options in the offense. To me, that seems like the most simple and reasonable explanation, which is why that stat doesn’t mean that much to me. Great numbers though; the 2008 series was such a blur I’ve forgotten how he played overall.
Why has no one brought up the fact that our very own commenter Burgundy was the reason we lost game 2? He broke our Warren rule during the preview and chat. see below.
Burgundy, please don’t let this happen again. Warren(or someone mentioning Warren) gets the 1st post!
Burgundy wrote on June 6, 2010 at 11:47 am
Saw this posted at Lakersground.net, and I thought it was fascinating:
If anyone has any doubts as to whether the Lakers are “playing through it,” they should be dimissed after clicking the above link….
I’m at the Apple Store and am just beginning to appreciate how hard it is to type when 9 of your 10 fingers aren’t allowed to hit the surface of your keyboard.
Lakers are making it hard for me to enjoy the journey ATM, so I’ll do everyone a favour and stay off the boards for the time being.
Snoopy, let me remind you…he was the real MVP of those finals (in my opinion).
I still think that, looking back, the Celtics got actual effective production out of no one but Rondo and Allen. If we can stop Ray Allen from shooting threes, and Rondo from, well, anything really, then we’ll be in pretty good shape.
I’m thinking about just handcuffing Shannon Brown to Allens’s wrist whenever he comes in to play. Never, ever stray from a shooter like that!
In slightly better news, my Lakers t-shirt (yay, my first ever Lakers shirt!) that was supposed to get here tomorrow arrived a day early. Surely this is a good sign. 🙂
It would help if Farmar would stop jacking up shots. 7 FGA in 12:52. Supposed to be point guard, and so facilitator first and scorer second. 7 FGA to 1 AST. Pretty much says it all. Well, almost. Artest and Farmar combined for 10 3PA. Kobe and Fish combined for 9. And Ron, the last thing that I wish to see is that 6 of your 10 FGA were 3PA. You’re no Ray Allen. Oh, and Ron, if you’re being guarded by Ray, then kindly note that some are reporting that you are a 6’7″ to his 6’5″ and that you weigh 260 lbs to his 205 lbs. If those numbers are to be believed, shouldn’t you be posting him up down low? Maybe you could speak with Pau, since he is both quick on his feet and has an outside shot, so maybe he can clear some space by taking himself and KG outside. If you think that you can’t pound Ray inside on the particular play, you can always hit Pau with a pass, who then either buries the jumper over a fading KG or drives past ole lost a step for the layin.
Lastly, and by the way, didn’t understand all that, the Celtics must win game 2 or else, talk. Not that they didn’t need to win game 2, but almost as essential for the Lakers. Celts go 2-1 at home and they come back to Staples for 2 games leading 3-2. As we just saw in 1 and 2, they went 1-1 at Staples. They do that again following a 2-1 at home and they hoist the trophy.
David Rivers says
I think Kobe should stop roaming off Rondo. Roaming off Rondo started in 2008 and the Celtics know what to do.
First, while his man gets lost in traffic Rondo finds a pocket near the baseline and Celtics find him, so now he’s unguarded and ready to pass or finish at the basket. Second, he crashes the boards and rebounds & grabs batted balls because his defender isn’t boxing out.
Third, the the Celtic big men are not good enough to require help defenders, so no one should double or dig (Shannon, especially you). If KG, Davis, and Rasheed want to go one-on-one with Bynum, Lamar, Gasol we should bait that action, not double it.
Stay on Rondo and no more danger around the basket, no more offensive boards, and no increased danger from Celtic big men.
(Also, the cross match between Rondo and Fish makes it too easy for Rondo to initiate fast breaks while Fish is looking for him. Dunno what to do, though).
I find myself to be pretty calm about things. Game 1 showed us that the Lakers control their own destiny, and that the Lakers are the better team.
And I’m okay with Celtics winning the title, if the Lakers showed their true colors in game 2.
I don’t want a dumb, selfish, obstinate team to be champions. I want to see our smart, selfless, flexible team.
I think the Lakers should play Ray Allen Utah-style. Have Fish, Sasha, Shannon, and Farmar bump, flop, hold, and scratch him for 48 minutes, until the refs can’t tell the difference between what’s a foul and what isn’t.
Hollinger’s insider column today is on the refs. Short version: massive increase percentage-wise in foul calls in general throughout the playoffs and particularly in the Finals. Hollinger doesn’t like this trend. Quote from Pau:
“You can measure it a little and see how much they allow,” said Pau Gasol, “and that’s the idea every good player should carry into a game, whether it’s regular season or playoffs. Just like they have to adjust to different opponents, different arenas and different defenses, players have to note how a game is being called and respond accordingly.”
My post is going to be delayed a bit longer. I’m having some computer issues right now (commenting from my phone). I will have the post up tonight. Promise.
I am ready to read that one, Darius. Thanks for doing it (although watching it will be a drag).
Garnett and Pierce are soft, they couldn’t play better in LA. One will happen for sure is that Garnett and Pierce will act like the tough guys in Boston. I still don’t trust Lakers bench on the road, but Boston can’t beat Lakers 3 games in a row in Boston, Lakers have a chance to win at least one game and bring it back to LA.
New post is up.
I’m putting this under the “Back to Basics” thread because I feel it’s the most subject appropriate.
There are three critical phases of defense on each possession:
1. Before your man gets the ball
2. when your man has the ball
3. After the shot (whether taken by your man or not).
The three most basic rules of defense are as follows:
1. Ball You Man: You must be in a position to see the ball AND your man on defense. I think sometimes NBA players feel like the short shot clock will keep them from being exposed for not executing this and MAINTAINING it even at the end of the shot clock. ShanWow’s much-highlighted failure to do this on Ray Ray’s left wing three illustrated this breakdown perfectly.
2. You should be no further than arm’s length distance from your man when he has the ball. Any closer, and you are vulnerable to the drive and any further, and you can not challenge a jump shot effectively. Has anybody seen Rondo’s jumper form? It is slow and does not start from a high point of release. Basically, it’s the opposite of Ray Ray’s shot. (Lightning quick and released high to reduce blockability). That dagger jumper to make it 95-90? Took FOREVER to set up and release with nobody even in the same county as Rondo. Kobe, please guard your man appropriately. There is a middle ground where Kobe can respect the drive and yet challenge Rondo’s jumper. He DOES NOT want to take that shot under duress.
3. You must body up on your man following the shot. Again, this is a problem created by Kobe not staying attached to his man. Boston cannot score enough points in the halfcourt if the Lakers rebound and limit second shots.
I believe the Lakers will play more disciplined offensively, but it’s on the defensive end that the concentration and mental effort must improve.