Rondo is clearly the best player in Boston these days, and he’s not a closer at the offensive end. That came back to bite them tonight against the Cleveland Cavs who had no business defeating the Celtics. When an opponent cuts into a team’s lead and has their plays scouted (the way the Cavs have Boston scouted after so many meetings in the past 3 seasons and playoffs), it can get tough to score in the half court. Back when Pierce was still close enough to his peak to maybe be the team’s best player, he could manufacture points in bogged down situations. Often Allen will be locked in and able to hit shots coming off screens, but a dedicated defense can take that away. Garnett has never been comfortable getting the call in those situations. Rondo is the player who should be stepping up and making plays to close out games, but with his poor free throw shooting and suspect jumper, he shrinks from those possessions too. Could be a lasting issue if Pierce can’t find the mid-range game.
I’m not shocked that Cleveland played better than everyone expected. This was a very sound defensive team and should maintain those principles even with the loss of LeBron and Delonte and the introduction of a new coach. Getting enough points will be difficult, but if they can play a grind it out game and Gibson and Parker hit big shots, they can win some games.
Derek Rose is an incredible talent, but I’m not sure he’s the pure point guard we all want to pretend he is. He missed a lot of open shooters in transition tonight in favor of personally attacking the rim. It worked early, but the defense adjusted in the second half, and Rose didn’t have the vision to make the pass instead of forcing the issue. The same could be said of Westbrook. An amazing talent, but the game could be a lot easier for Durant and Green with a point guard who didn’t look for his own offense first. Noticed something about KD tonight too. He lost focus when he wasn’t involved in the offense, stopped rebounding and defending. I’ve read that he brings it in practice, but he needs to make sure he’s finding a way to contribute when his teammates are carrying the scoring load.
Tim Duncan woke up from his regular season hibernation early this year.
Wade and LeBron switched roles tonight. Like we (royal “We”) said yesterday, one of them needs to find a comfort zone playing off the ball so that they can both excel. I’d like to see a sideline pick and roll between the two of them when they’ve got LeBron is at the 4. It would be very difficult to handle their combined speed breaking off the pick no matter how the screener’s man reacted. Even a switch would probably leave defenders a little out of position, which is all either of them needs. For that matter how about a stead diet of pick and roll / pop with Bosh setting the screen. That’s a very tough cover as well.
Blake Griffin looks fantastic. Tremendous motor and athleticism. Great strength. I’ve head comparisons to a young Karl Malone, and so far that seems like a good call. He’s everywhere and very impactful. Unfortunately Baron Davis is to John Stockton as Stephon Marbury is to John Stockton.
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