Like Pat Riley, I believe that a series doesn’t really get going until someone loses at home. There are some interesting numbers from last night’s game.
1) Boston was whistled for 28 fouls. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Tony Allen had 14 of those. That says the Celtics were not busy using their fouls on the block, but on the perimeter and in defending the lane (usually from a trailing position). The interior defense was weak — and may not improve because the Lakers’ size is considerable.
2) Rasheed Wallace played 18 minutes, scored 9 points, made a couple of free throws, and had 4 rebounds. He also played great defense on Gasol for a few moments in the first half. I don’t know how many he can play — certainly not 46 like Pau…but he needs to play upwards of 26 minutes for Boston to have even the slightest chance of winning.
When Rasheed was picked up, I envisioned him riding the pine until this time of year. Perkins is a valuable banger, but Rasheed can block Gasol’s hook or jumper — if he can stay on the floor. Big question.
3) Gasol has 8 offensive rebounds. Rondo had 4. No other Celtic had more than two (Garnett). No other Laker had more than 1. This is evidence of a structural approach to defense and rebounding that is flawed. Boston has to adjust.
Couple of other thoughts:
Nate Robinson is not a good cover for D. Fisher. Fish is too savvy for this matchup to provide a real dividend for Boston. I’d keep Nate on Farmer or Shannon Brown (only in spots). And, if Ray Allen is out of the game, Doc has to let shoot and not worry about him running the offense for the team.
Artest is going to be the difference for LA. He gives everyone on the team courage. They all seem to appreciate that they cannot be pummeled in an alley fight as long as Ron is around. His presence really allows Kobe to attack Ray Allen and that’s not a favorable matchup for Boston — or anyone.
The strength of the Celtics is that they have so many players who can make mid-range jumpers. Last night, they seemed to think they were still playing Orlando or Cleveland, where it made sense to try to get to the goal. Against the Lakers, that strategy is doomed to fail. The Celtics will have to pull up and hit the mid-range jumper. They have 6 guys who can make that shot regularly: Pierce, Allen, Garnett, Wallace, Davis and Finley (if he plays again).
The ability to take and make the mid-range J is the key. The only teams that have ever beaten Phil Jackson coached teams have had at least 3 dead-eye mid-range jump shooters. Vintage Detroit routinely beat the Bulls with Isiah, Dumars, and Vinnie Johnson. New Detroit beat the Lakers with Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups.
No one is going to consistently finish at the rim by jumping OVER Gasol, Bynum, Odom and that defense. It couldn’t be done vs. Bill Cartwright, Stacey King, Scott Williams and Horace Grant — so it’s not going to happen here either. The key is to pull up and drain those available mid-range shots that their bigs cannot defend — and then beat them to the glass for offensive boards.
That’s the formula. Doc has the pieces. The next chess move is his.