Breakdown: How the hell did Irving get that layup? | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Breakdown: How the hell did Irving get that layup?

The Celtics had pissed away an 11 point lead but they still had a chance to win.  All they had to do was stop the Cleveland Cavaliers one time and they could go home with a winning record.  

But they didn't.  Kyrie Irving split the defense, laid it in, and now all that great stuff we watched over the past week has been erased.  Or at least pushed aside.  

So how did it happen?  Very simple.  Avery Bradley played a simple pick and roll poorly, giving Irving the opening he needed.

Irving 1

Here's the set up.  1-4 baseline spread.  Anthony Parker set a pick on Bass, and Anderson Varejao went up to set a screen on Bradley. 


When Varejao sets the pick, Bradley leaves a ton of space between himself and Irving.  At this point, one of two things should have happened. 

1:  Assuming Bass called out the pick, Bradley should have stepped up and closed that gap if he was going to fight over the top of it.  Bass is there for the hedge to slow Irving down and get Bradley that second he needs to get back into the play. 

2:  Drop down and go under the pick.  It leaves you more vulnerable to an Irving jumper, but it's a better option than the lay up.  Plus, Bass is there to challenge a quick pull up.


Bradley did neither.  He stuck to the pick, and Irving sees nothing but daylight.  Now Bradley, worried about the rolling Varejao, doesn't get back into position to close Irving off and let Bass get back to his man.  Irving, seeing the space, uses his incredible quickness to spin and get to the rim. 


KG is worried about the shooter at the three point line, so he doesn't step in.  Same with Pierce and Ray. But the play could have been avoided if, even after the pick, Avery Bradley had just gotten back into the play.  Bradley never slid back to cut Irving off.  He just sort of stopped.

For a player who prides himself on his defense, that was a very poorly defended play at a very bad time.  

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  • give credit where credits due.. the kids good. like tommy was saying he’s got size, strength, and good vision. plus his old man played at BU 😉
    personally i blame doc, the players, refs, and the fans for letting the cavs ripoff 12 straight to win the game was inexcusable.
    on the brighter side of things dhoward now wants to be a bull. he doesn’t get the fact that his next contract and drose’s, noah’s, boozer, and deng’s are all cap killers.

  • That spin-move sealed it. No one swiped at the ball, and Irving cradled it for protection. The kid’s smart.

  • putdjinthehall

    Bradley still has a lot to learn.
    great move by a soon to be GREAT player

  • You said it right. The kid ran that p/r like CP3 and made the right read. He’s crafty at changing sides of the screener too. He and Varejao aren’t lob city yet, but they’re effective.
    It’s really where RR, a pretty good pick and roll defender, is sorely missed. KG should have been barking out the reads to AB. Why didn’t Doc counter and switch Bass to Jamison and Garnett to Varejo knowing the Cavs used this combination against the Knicks a few nights ago?

  • If the Celtics want to be taken seriously and put a hint of fear in the competition, they cannot lose these kinds of games. We need some sort of consistency otherwise we will end up asking too much from the starters.
    This team needs Rondo back. His experience would have changed the end of that game and that play in particular.

  • BigMck

    Bradley just need to be a half step quicker on the seal… and Irving would have spun into him. Maybe have called a foul… but still better than a layup.

  • classless

    I don’t care about this play. I care that our big men got embarrassed by Varejeo once again. Irving made a great shot ….what can you do?

  • This is every Rondo defensive segment that I’ve complained about. Maybe Avery HAS been listening too much to him on the bench. Bad defense at the very wrong moment but….turnovers, bad shooting, stagnant offense brought this moment, not one instance of stupid defense.

  • RR is the WORST pick and roll defender in the game today. What are you talking about? That’s his/our achilles heal when he’s playing. Are you kidding me? This was the mistake he makes almost every pick and roll play although usually when the ball has swung to his man from the weak side and he tries to catch back up to to his man to make up for the space he’s ceded, but…?

  • From the strong side to the weak side. My bad

  • Can Danny just trade for Varejeo already. Just to take him off our all-embarassment list???!!! He and Gortat! Mediocre players who hustle and always kill us. At least he took Pietruss off that list. lol

  • putdjinthehall

    Hey James Eisenman,
    What is your deal?
    Bob Cousy isn’t running the team anymore. You are at the point where your comments are worthless to read, they provide zero real input.
    RR is the worst P/R defender? Based on what?
    Yes- you are right Avery f-ed up the P/R because Rondo told him to defend it wrong.
    Verejeo and Gortat are the answers. genius.

  • To go back to John’s game recap..54 points in the paint. That was indeed the killer. If we play better D down-low, we’re up by 8 or 10 points and this is moot.

  • Hopefully J.O. is back on Tuesday. We really need his big body down there. If nothing else just to knock VareClown on his ass a few times. Sounds ridiculous that we’re talking about this next Cavs game like a marquee match-up, but we have to establish early-on in the game that they’re not getting free layups again. KG held his own with Dwight & Hibbert last week, but we all know that he can’t do it every game at this point in his career.

  • Jerry Sondler

    You could feel the game slipping away during the final 3 minutes.
    One way or another, Cleveland was going to score on that possession.

  • James Eisenman

    My comments are only worthless because you must not understand the game of basketball. Bob Cousy was not a great defender anyway. Don’t read my comments. It just goes to show what YOU don’t know about basketball. Rondo leaves his man on the pick and roll when the ball shifts to the strong side and his man is on the weak side on nearly every play. He runs into the chest of every pick and his man gets free to shoot or get our big guys in foul trouble over and over again. You can’t understand what you’re watching apparently. Why do you think we have been torched by Rose, Westbrook and every other point guard we have faced this season? All of them off the same pick and roll play. Look back at the box scores when Rondo played. His man was the big problem in nearly every game. HE LAYS OFF OF HIS MAN AND GIVES HIM THE SAME SPACE THAT AVERY GAVE!!! It’s the same issue. If you’re up on your man, right in his face, you can slide OVER the pick most of the time. It’s hustle. Verajao and Gortat kill us in nearly every game they play against us and so did Pietrus until we got him on our team. It was a joke, genius.

  • James Eisenman

    Torched by John Wall, Jarret Jack, Norris Cole, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, over-and-over again. Text book, right. It’s in the text book under the part where you read about what you’re NOT supposed to do on pick and roll defense. The two plays you point out are 2 out of 1,000.

  • Chris

    RR Wasn’t playing last night, so let’s um… not drag him into this!!! I don’t see how some of you are blaming him for Avery’s mistake. He was on the bench and in no way a part of that last play so get off his back and stop criticizing him about his defense when really his defense played no part in this loss. It’s pointless even talking about him. Seriously. (no offense)
    I also don’t see why everyone is being so harsh on Bradley. Look. Everyone makes mistakes. Just cause he’s a rookie and has not had much experience,doesn’t mean everyone should automatically point their fingers at him and blame him for this loss (I love how no one’s talking about Pierce and his missed shot. Not that I blame him or anything. But if you’re going to attack Bradley why not attack the Captain at the same time?). Frankly, I don’t see that it was his fault. The Celtics had a good solid lead on the Cavs. If the Celtics would not have lost that lead, that play would not have mattered. The team as a whole messed this one up, not just Bradley. Yes, he did have a lapse in his otherwise SOLID defense. Oops. He made a mistake. We should trade him now right?
    Don’t attack him for this one mistake. This guy’s been pretty amazing, filling in for a guard like Rondo. (That’s kind of hard to do, just saying). Get off his back. He’ll learn from his mistake and use this experience to become a better player in the future.
    So the Celtics lost. Let’s move on and look to tomorrow’s game.:)

  • Sebastian Pruiti who writes for Grantland does a great job breaking down video, and while there's not a recent RR analysis there are quite a few at Basketball Prospectus. Problem is BP is a paid subscriber site. Therefore I cannot send links. I did manage to bookmark one of his pieces here …
    Clearly RR is lauded as a top flight defensive PG and while he gambles too much for my tastes in the framework of the Celtic's pick and roll defense he's vital and can force turnovers even if the ball handler manages to get by him. Can we say the same about Bradley at this point in time? 
    We can agree to disagree, but RR's experience might have made it more difficult for Irving. Still they gave up 54 pts in the paint and someone should have been waiting for him at the rim.
    Sent from my iPad

  • I agree with your last point but you’re not really being honest about RR’s pick and roll defense. If I could compile video, I could show you five instances a game. Here is a video with some examples of Rondo being knocked off the pick and roll, cheating on defense and getting beaten because he is not right up on his man.
    Why did Jack, Collison, Rose, Westbrook, Cole, etc., all have huge games against him this season if he’s so good on defense? He should not have to get steals because his man beats him. He can play in someone’s face – watch him when he guards Lebron. He wants to try to steal instead of staying with his man. This is why he is getting torched.

  • I'm assuming you're talking about this season, which is a small sample. While I can't point to any one situation involving the potent offensive PG's you mentioned picking and rolling them apart statistically the team is fifth in the league defending the roll man and 13th defending the ball handler. 
    According to Synergy sports, players that Rondo guard average .68 points per possession. Overall, point guards average 6.8 assists and 4.2 turnovers and have an eFG% of .42%.
    Sure on any given night, or off a back to back, the players you mentioned could exploit him. But overall opposing PGs are not shooting lights out or piling up assists, and they turn the ball over a lot. More importantly up until his injury RR has been carrying the offensive load, so I'm not gonna say he doesn't take plays off defensively and since his injury the team has jumped from a middle of the pack defensive team into the top five. 
    My overarching point was with the game on the line a tandem of RR/Garnett defending the pick and roll instead of Bradley/Bass might have made a difference.
    Sent from my iPad

  • James Eisenman

    I agree it was just a mistake by Avery. I didn’t blame Rondo. That was a joke. You guys don’t seem to get irony sometimes. lol. Avery has stepped up on defense in the last several games. You can’t really blame him that much for laying back a few steps on a guy who is that quick although I would prefer to watch him right up on the man, relying on his own quickness. I’d rather watch him fighting through the pick than getting clipped and watch both Verajao and Irving headed to basket with him chasing behind. But everyone makes a judgment mistake, here and there. And you’re absolutely right. No game is lost on the last play of the game. They blew an 11-point lead with turnovers, stagnant offense and bad interior defense.

  • I don’t know the meaning of these stats as I’m not sure what they’re counting.. People here think I hate RR. I don’t. It just makes me mad that he has such speed and talent and wastes it. The fans who love him just refuse to believe what plays out right in front of them. Great players play on both ends AND can play back-to-backs, especially when they’re 26. DJ played both ends. Danny Ainge did. McHale, Bird. I could go on. The point is that he gave up game killers to Westbrook, Rose, etc.,, yet people still continue to believe the Rondo myth. Last year he got torched by all the mediocres. I personally watched Randy Foye (who) rip a new hole in him at a Clippers game. I just want him to use his quickness, arm length and savvy to the most advantage and I don’t think he does.

  • Totally understand where you're coming from. The minutia of stats never tells the whole story, but this is how a player is evaluated.  We all know when he plays with that speed and aggression he's a franchise type player. Psychically though it's pretty hard to play with that kind of edginess every game especially with this condensed schedule. 
    If he could develop an ISO game and consistently knock down long jumpers he'd have more energy preserved for the defensive end. Instead he gambles too much defensively.  Teams slack off forcing him to expend more energy on offense, which induces those nasty spills. He just can't rely upon a natural shooting game in the vernacular of a Westbrook or CP3 and that always works to the detriment of the team.
    Sent from my iPad