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From the GreenLab: Did Opposing Guards Kill the C’s Defense?

Jay January 9, 2012 Uncategorized Comments Off on From the GreenLab: Did Opposing Guards Kill the C’s Defense?

Today's GreenLab will go over several defensive sets by the Celtics during Friday night's debacle against the Indiana Pacers.  Following the loss, Doc Rivers placed equal blame on the C's guards for allowing too much dribble-drive penetration from Indiana, allowing easy baskets and giving up tons of rebounds.  The videos below will contain several instances where this isn't exactly the case.

Certainly, the Celtics got destroyed on the glass, 47-36, including getting doubled-up on the offensive glass, 14-7.  But what the video will show is that there weren't that many mis-played defensive sequences by the guards.  In most cases, the Pacers simply out-worked and out-hustled the Celtics for rebounds.  It was more of an effort issue on the glass, that an effort on perimeter defense.

Q1 Defense vs Pacers:

  • 0:00-0:10 – Rondo goes over two soft screens set by Granger then Hibbert, not allowing Collison to penetrate.  Collison gets it in the post to Hibbert on a side screen/roll and Hibbert gets a lucky bounce to go
  • 0:11-0:27 – One of Rondo's successful, gamble-poke-away steals.  David West fakes a high screen on the right wing, and Rondo allows Collison to penetrate to the middle where KG is waiting for him.  Rondo pokes it away, KG outlets to him and he gets an easy lay-up.
  • 0:28-0:50 – First, Hibbert sets a screen on Rondo who goes over it, but a defensive 3 seconds violation is called.  Then, West attempts to srot of set a screen on Rondo, who switches out to him on the pick and roll. The switch creates a mismatch, and West backs down Rondo into the paint, but Rondo successfully slaps the ball away.
  • 0:51-1:06 – Paul George is trying to make a post-entry pass to West, but KG is denying him effectively.  Indiana then opts to a screen/roll as George reverses the ball to Collison on the opposite wing.  Hibbert is already there to screen Rondo, but Rondo effectively spins under the screen, recovering to his man, Collison.  Hibbert re-screens on Rondo who correctly goes over the screen, and jumping all over Collison as he picks up his dribble.  Collison then passes it back to George who is forced to take, and make a three with 4 seconds on the shot clock.
  • 1:07-1:16 – As West sets the high screen on Rondo, KG shows, but then hesitates for a split second to recover back to the middle.  Rondo correctly goes over the screen, but Collison is able to penetrate into the lane, but dishes out to Granger for a three.  JO met Collison at the hoop, and as he rotated to help, Pierce rotated to help on JO's man, Hibbert.  This allowed Granger to be freed up for the three.  Luckily for the C's, he missed a wide-open bomb.
  • 1:17-1:31 Rondo gets screened again by Hibbert, but he plays it perfectly again, breaking the play and forcing Collison to reverse the ball.  Granger and West try the same play above, and as Granger gets to the basket he is met by JO who blocks him.  Here, he could have passed it out to a wide-open George on the opposite baseline for three.
  • 1:32-1:44 Hibbert sets the screen on Rondo who plays it correctly again.  As Collison makes the post-entry pass to West, he cuts through the middle of the lane, possibly for a give-and-go but Rondo keeps him within arms-length at the same time, ready to help double-team on West.  West jumps into Bass and JO, drawing a foul.
  • 1:45-1:56 Hibbert screens Rondo again, and Collison cuts all the way through to the other side, with Rondo sticking with him.  As the ball finds its way back to Collison on the opposite side, another screen is set on Rondo which is successful this time, creating enough space for Collison to get off a jumper over JO, who tries to jump out and help.  Rondo is able to track down the miss.
  • 1:57-2:04 – Foster sets a solid screen on Bradley, who has a tough time fighting through it.  Here, Wilcox plays the defensive role as KG and successfully shows, but can't recover fast enough to help on Collison who penetrates to the lane.  He dishes it off to Hansbrough who scores on a tough reverse lay-up, even with Wilcox making an effort to block the shot.  Dooling's lane defense here is also lax, as he could have hedged harder at Collison.


Q2 Defense vs Pacers:

  • 0:00-0:10 - Hansbrough sets a couple of screens on Bradley, but there is zero guard penetration here by Price.  Hansbrough simply drives to the basket under shot-clock duress and hits an awkward runner.
  • 0:11-0:20-  Hansbrough sets a high screen on Bradley, but Bass successfully shows, forcing Hansbrough to receive the pass way out on the right wing, where KG helps to guard him.  Hansbrough once again scores on an awkward drive to the hoop, with zero guard penetration.
  • 0:21-0:38 – Rondo successfully gets through two Foster screens, making himself small and getting out to Price who can't get off a three.  They re-set, and Rondo goes over the third Foster screen, funneling Price to KG who does a solid job at contesting the baseline jumper that misses.  Again, no guard penetration.  Rondo does make a huge mistake here by not boxing out Foster, who he was forced to switch on after KG had to take Price.  Ray and/or Quis could have also simply boxed him out, but got lazy watching the ball.  Foster did what he does best by grabbing the offensive board and scoring on the put-back.
  • 0:39-0:49 - Hansbrough screens and re-screens on Rondo and as he does this, Bass successfully shows and stays with the play.  Rondo stays with Price, disallowing any guard penetration but Bass is a bit slow to recover on Hansbrough who gets the ball deep in the lane.  KG, a great help defender, does a solid job defending Hansbrough who misses.  Bass at least makes a second effort and grabs the board to make up for the slight mistake.
  • 0:50-0:58 - Jones and Foster work a left-wing pick and roll, as Quis struggles with Fosters screen.  Jones delivers a nice bounce pass between Quis and the helping KG.  As KG helps off of Foster, Bass has to help the helper.  Foster, a smart player, recognizes this, and quickly fires a pass deep into the open Hansbrough.  If Ray went deep to help Bass, then that would have left George wide-open for a baseline weak-side three.  Foster made the smart snap-decision as Ray was forced to foul Hansbrough.
  • 0:59-1:14 – Jones is posting up Rondo on th right wing ans passes it to a cutting West.  West then re-sets out to Price, and also screens Ray for Price who drives baseline.  Price gets all 5 Celtics to drop-down into the paint, and kicks it out to Jones who is wide-open and successfully gets to the lane for a jumper that he badly misses.  Rondo never left the low-post, which allowed Jones to get that shot.  This was a mistake by Rondo who sort of makes up for it by helping to crash the glass.  Hansbrough recognized the mistake and made a smart play by screening Rondo from trying to recover out to Jones.
  • 1:15-1:27 – West sets the right wing screen on Rondo who defends it well, along with KG.  The problem here is on the weakside.  As West gets the ball in the post and faces up on Bass, Jones notices that Ray's head is turned, watching West.  Jones cuts to the hoop, gets the pass and gets an uncontested lay-up.  Probably the best example from this game.
  • 1:28-1:34 – West sets the high screen for Price who makes a very impressive split through the double-team, penetrating to the lane, but kicking it out to a wide-open Jones who misses the three.  Good play, just missed the basket.  Not entirely bad defense though, just a great move by Price.
  • 1:35-1:47 – West is looking to make his move at the top of the key, as Indiana elects not to run the pick and roll.  Rondo notices this, and plays off his man, gambling again, and is successful again and stealing the ball and creating the easy transition lay-up for Pierce.  Rondo does gamble, but he is relatively successful at it.
  • 1:48-2:23 – Rondo gets screened a couple of times on the left wing by West, but plays it correctly.  The ball gets reversed to the right wing ans Hibbert sets the screen on Ray.  Ray fights through it, but JO fails to jump out on Hibbert who misses a wide-open jumper.  There is a scrum for the rebound, but the Pacers get to it.  Hibbert then screens Pierce on the right wing, but it is defended well by both Pierce and Rondo.  As Granger tries to pass it back to Hill, Rondo successfully gambles again, deflecting the pass.  Granger gets to the ball though and passes to Hill, who fires a cross-court pass to Collison who is waiting on the baseline for a three.  As he receives the pass, his foot is out of bounds.
  • 2:24-2:38  Hibbert screens Pierce on the right wing but he and JO defend it well.  Granger re-sets to Collison as they run the pick and roll again.  This time, Rondo gets screened by Hibbert and JO jumps out on Collison and attempts to block a shot that is never attempted.  Instead Hibbert rolls to the basket with Rondo standing there and no help from Pierce, or especially Bass who fails to hedge out on the rolling Hibbert.
  • 2:39-2:48 – The Pacers work a nice give-and-go here.  Collison makes the post-entry pass to Hibbert who is set up on the left block.  As he does this, Granger fakes a baseline cut, then goes towards the middle, taking Pierce with him.  This simultaneously clogs space, allowing Rondo to get picked off while Collison makes the baseline cut.  Hibbert hands off the Statue of Liberty pass to Collison who gets an uncontested lay-up because Bass once again fails to help out on the weak side.
  • 2:49-2:59 – West screens Rondo again, but Bass and Rondo defend it well.  West makes the pass into Hibbert who gets blocked by JO, and Rondo makes the second effort to grab the loose ball as he was heading in to crash the boards.
  • 3:00-3:22 – Rondo and KG defend the Collison/West screen/roll again.  Hibbert eventually misses in the lane, and a fight for the rebound ensues.  As this is happening, you can see Rondo being sneaky, waiting to pounce on a rebound.  This allows his man to be wide-open out by the three-point line and as West re-posts, Granger, Collison and Hill all retreat back to the three-point line to A) be ready to get back in transition and B) be ready for a kick out.  Pierce elects to jump out on Hill who up-fakes Pierce, steps in and knocks down the shot.  Rondo definitely could have wandered out of the lane to get on a man, but it's a case of rebound vs. retreat.  In most instances the PG should retreat.
  • 3:23-3:34 – KG and Rondo defend a series of high screen/rolls by Collison and West again.  Collison gets it deep into Hibbert who is defended well against JO and KG, but makes a tough jump hook.  Collison was able to get relatively deep due to the forced switch out by KG.
  • 3:35-3:49 – Collison and Granger run a basic pick and and roll, forcing Pierce to switch out on Collison who takes a contested left elbow jumper that misses.


Q3 Defense vs Pacers:

  • 0:00-0:13 – Instead of the high screen roll, Collison, Hibbert and George elect for the left wing give-and-go.  As George cuts up from the baseline, Collison passes it off to him.  George makes the post-entry pass to Hibbert, then cuts to the middle of the lane.  Ray can't keep up and Rondo doesn't make the slightest effort to reach in or hedge and George makes a nice move to elude KG's block attempt, scoring the lay-up.
  • 0:14-0:23 – After a Ray three, Indiana quickly gets up the court, setting up a West/Collison screen/roll.  Rondo gambles with the poke-from-behind-steal attempt, but fails.  Luckily JO is set up perfectly and takes the charge.
  • 0:24-0:34 – With about 7 seconds on the shot clock, George makes the inbounds pass Hibbert who screens his man, Ray.  Ray goes under the screen, allowing George to get off a three that goes in despite a solid challenge by Ray.
  • 0:35-0:50 – Granger and West try a pick and roll on Pierce, but he and Bass defend it perfectly.  Granger reverses to Collison as he and Hibbert re-screen on Rondo.  Rondo goes over and Stiemsma is forced to switch on Collison who drills the jumper over him.
  • 0:51-0:59 – Collison and Hibbert work another successful pick and roll on Rondo and Stiemsma.  Once again forcing the switch, Collison drains a jumper over Stiemsma.
  • 1:00-1:07 – Foster screens Dooling on the left wing, allowing Collison to penetrate to the basket on the baseline.  As he does this, Granger sneaks over to the right baseline with Pierce falling asleep.  Granger drills the three over the late-to-recover Pierce.
  • 1:08-1:22 – Foster sets the left wing screen on Pierce for Granger, and Dooling leaves Collison to help.  As he does this, Granger kicks it back to Collison who up-fakes the recovering Dooling, freeing himself for the jumper that misses.  Foster grabs the board and passes it to the cutting Collison as Dooling started to head down the court, instead of guarding his man, Collison.  Collison drills the jumper in the lane.
  • 1:23-1:31 – As Foster screens Rondo, Rondo plays it well at first, but then fails on the poke-from-behind-gamble on Hill, as Hill is able to easily get to the lane for the floater over KG.


Q4 Defense vs Indiana:

  • 0:00-0:22 – Foster sets the right wing screen on Bradley who recovers enough to jump out and contest Hill's missed jumper.  Indiana gets the offensive rebound as Ray loses his man Jones on the baseline.  Foster sets the screen on Dooling as Price tries to dribble through the baseline.  He kicks it out to Foster who quickly reverses it to the open Hill.  Hill fakes the recovering Bradley off the three-point line, steps into the middle and hits the shot.  Not necessarily lane penetration.
  • 0:23-0:32 – Hill is giving Ray a bit of his own medicine here, running him all over the court.  As he eventually cuts from the right wing up through the middle, Foster sets a hip-check screen that kills Ray, allowing Hill to drain the open three.  No guard penetration here.
  • 0:33-0:49 – Running the same play, Foster picks off Ray, allowing Hill to get to the lane this time.  Instead he kicks it back out to Price.  Price passes it off to Hill.  Hansbrough screens Ray again, allowing Hill to attempt a three.  He tries to draw a foul on Ray, but misses instead.  While Hill was able to sort of get to the paint, he wasn't successful.
  • 0:50-1:11 – First, the Pacers try the same play, but Ray successfully works his way through the screen.  Then, Foster and Granger try a right-wing pick and roll that Pierce and KG defend.  Granger then tries to take Pierce to the basket, but he and KG defend him well, force the miss and get the rebound.
  • 1:12-1:21 – Hansbrough and Hill work the pick and roll on Ray and Bass.  As Bass shows effectively, he's slow to recover once again as Hill gets into the paint since Ray can't keep up with him.  KG is forced to either jump out and contest Hill, or defend the open, rolling Hansbrough.  He sort of does both, by jumping backwards to half defend the pass to Hansbrough and half defend Hill's lay-up attempt.  Smart play as Hill misses and Bass gets the lay-up.
  • 1:22-1:35 – Essentially, the Celtics defend a series of screens here as Hansbrough just makes a tough rolling jump hook over Bass.  No guard penetration here.
  • 1:36-2:15 – Rondo reads the Hansbrough/George screen/roll well here.  He gambles again, leaving his man Collison wide open in the corner.  But, he effectively swipes the pass from Hansbrough gaining possession but losing the ball in transition.  Still, he dives for the ball along with Bass and George, but the Pacers retain the ball.  Hibbert and Collison fail on two consecutive screen/roll attempts and the C's force a 24-second shot-clock violation.
  • 2:16-2:38 – Here, the Pacers run the clock down trying to post Granger up on Pierce.  He misses on a fade-away but JO gets called for a foul, boxing out.
  • 2:39-2:59 – First, the C's stop George's dribble penetration in transition.  On the reset, the ball goes into the post to Hibbert.  As Hibbert receives the pass, Collison cuts through, and Rondo stays low, helping on Hibbert.  Collison is able to cut back into the lane, and misses a reverse lay-up.
  • 3:00-3:20 – After Hibbert screens Pierce, Rondo is forced to switch on Granger.  Hibbert screens Pierce again for Collison who passes it out to Hibbert.  Hibbert quickly passes it to Granger who is open and misses a three.  No guard penetration here.
  • 3:21-3:33 – In transition, Rondo tries to stop Granger by taking a charge but no call is made.  Granger eventually gets it back and gets hammered by Pierce and JO, preventing an easy two.
  • 3:34-3:44 – Granger and Collison work the pick and pop as Granger gets open on the baseline when Pierce switches on Collison and Rondo doesn't go to help out.  Granger misses the three as Pierce challenges him.
  • 3:45-4:03 – West and Collison set up a screen/roll and West receives the pass on the left wing.  Rondo is in the post guarding Hibbert, and Hill is open on the baseline.  West makes a questionable cross-court pass to Hill, who reverses it to Granger as both Pierce and Rondo recover to Hill.  As Ray races out to Granger, he loses Collison who is wide-open on the left wing for three.  Bass made a solid run-off effort but couldn't get there in time.


 So out of roughly 47 plays described above, 15 or so had some form of guard penetration.  Two were successful gamble poke-away steals from Rondo, while two were failed poke-aways.  One of the fails however, JO stepped up for the charge.  Twice the Pacers kicked out for a three, which is what the C's would prefer.  Twice there were kick outs for jumpers and one of those was a great double-team split move.  Twice the Pacers simply missed lay-ups.  Three times, they were able to successfully score on some form of a give-and-go.

To me, this wasn't as big of an issue as getting killed on the boards was.  Clearly though the C's have lots of room for defensive improvement if they want to return to the elite level that they have been on during the New Big Three Era.

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