I often wonder what opposing teams, their beat reporters and
are saying about the Celtics after playing the Celtics. Here's a dose
of 'enemy chatter' from Los Angeles.
The Lake Show gave the Celtics absolutely no quarter tonight. They
exerted tight ball pressure on everyone except Rajon Rondo, whom they invited to shoot
early and often. Rondo failed to punish this strategy, scoring 10 points
on 16 shots (using the term shots to include free-throw
possessions) and committing three turnovers. This allowed Kobe Bryant and anyone else guarding Rondo
to help lock down the paint, where the Lakers were a swarm of hands and
arms and active bodies. There were eight Laker blocked shots,
who-knows-how-many tipped balls and a team-wide spirit of energetic
play. Whereas in Game Five the Celtics made 63% of their two-point
shots, tonight the Lakers stayed between their men and the basket,
challenged nearly every look and held Boston to 38% shooting on twos.
to the paint. When Pierce drove, Artest funneled him to Gasol who was
waiting for him at the top of the key, forcing Pierce to go toward the
corner instead of toward the rim. Then Gasol and Artest would form an
aggressive double, cutting off the passing lanes to the paint and across
the court. This left the only outlet pass to be back up the side, which
was in turn cut off by Kobe, Fisher, and Farmar all on separate
occasions, leading to easy baskets or free throws on the other end.
Given that the Paul Pierce isolation is one of the Celtics key plays,
taking it away really destroyed the effectiveness of their offense.
The Lakers defensive intensity was off the charts in the 1st half. The Celtics passing needed to be crisp and quick to beat that swarming defense. It was neither.
As for the strategy on Rondo, we've seen this a million times. All he needs to do is make a couple of jump shots in the first quarter. The makes will draw his defender closer, which creates a little more space in the paint.