Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here…
highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as
satisfying as a good morning dump.
LeBron James wanted to touch the
ball, and Paul Pierce wouldn’t let him.
On the first possession, Pierce
essentially turned himself into a picket fence, denying James the ball
on the wing. The Cavaliers had to go down low to Shaquille O’Neal, who
missed a 9-footer. James took just five shots in the quarter — half of
what he took in the first quarter of Game 3.
The message after just one play was clear.
If the Cavaliers were going to get the ball to James, they were going
to have to pass it through Pierce.
Pierce isn't getting any credit for his defense in this series. All credit for LeBron's lethargic play has gone to Mr. Elbow.
Another factor in Pierce' struggles – foul trouble.
Pierce’s foul trouble has made finding a rhythm difficult. In Game 1,
three first-half fouls made him tentative after the break. In Game 2, he
played just 12 first-half minutes with three fouls chained to his
ankles. He made it through Game 3 without getting called for a foul, but
Sunday he stretched five fouls out over 31 minutes.
“You’re used to playing your minutes and you’re coming out at a point in
the game where you’ve got to really pick it up offensively,’’ Pierce
said. “I’m digging myself a ditch as far as with my fouls. But I think
they’re good fouls that I’m giving, some bad ones, but that’s the way
the game goes. That’s not something I’m really worried about. I know
it’s something I can do a better job to control.’’
Because LeBron isn't going anywhere, we likely won't see a drastic change in Pierce's offensive game this series. But… if he can generate 20 points, or carry the Celtics offense for one quarter (8-10 points), that should be enough to help the Celtics win.
On Page 2, the Cavs keys to slowing down RR.
In Game 4, Anthony Parker played for 42 minutes and spent almost all
of them guarding Rondo, who played 47 minutes. By the end of the game,
Parker was clearly gassed and it contributed to Rondo's strong finish.
The Cavs will likely give Parker some support to reduce his minutes on
But do not expect James to guard Rondo exclusively; that job will
still probably belong to Parker. James is likely to spell Parker and
perhaps pick up Rondo in the fourth quarter if the game is close.
2. Stop the rebound running
So the Cavs will likely be much more aware of Rondo's positioning after
shots, especially on long jumpers. Rondo's defender may be assigned to
box him out at all times while other players, such as the guard assigned
to Ray Allen, would be assigned to get back to protect against the fast
3. More ball pressure
Look for the Cavs to stay closer to Rondo in halfcourt offense, mixing
it up more with giving him space. It could well resemble mixing up
bump-and-run coverage and cushion coverage by a cornerback in football.
John has already diagrammed plays for beating the Lebron-on-Rondo coverage. If John can see it, then imagine what Doc Rivers is coming up with.
If James is guarding Rondo, he'll need to perform numbers 2 and 3 in the above list. Does Cleveland really want LBJ pressuring Rondo full court?
The rest of the links:
Herald – Pierce still a factor | King's throne off kilter | Rondo stays humble | CSNNE – Chess match continues | Globe – James may come to their defense | Unfazed Rondo in great company | WEEI – Good Tony arrives just in time | Pierce meet David Ortiz | ESPN Boston – Spike Lee rooting for Boston |