Mike D’Antoni looks across the court at the Boston Celtics and knows that Shaquille O’Neal is going to lineup at center come Sunday night when the playoff series opens.
He’s countering with Ronny Turiaf, who will start for the Knicks at center in the series, D’Antoni announced Wednesday, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
“Because I think we play better with Ronny on the floor. That would be the reason: We’re a better team,” D’Antoni said.
Go ahead and shake your head at D’Antoni’s decision, but his other options are Shelden Williams and Jared Jeffries. He has no good options. If Willis Reed limps out of the tunnel he might still be D’Antoni’s best choice at this point.
According to Basketball Value, the lineup of Chauncey Billups, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Turiaf was outscored in the 94 minutes it was on the floor and had a defensive rating of 107.3 (points per 100 possessions). And that is D’Antoni’s best defensive option.
Swap Jared Jeffries in for Turiaf and the defensive rating gets worse (109.8 points per 100 possessions) but the offense jumps dramatically with that unit (16 points per 100 possessions better than when Turiaf is in). Williams seems to be the worst of the three with a defensive rating of 119.8 with that unit.
Look for all three guys to get minutes at center, and look for D’Antoni to look everywhere for lineups that work for him. He’s outmatched and will be forced to try anything and everything.
But for starters he’s leaning defense, and that means Turiaf gets the start.
The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.
It didn’t get better afterward.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:
I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.
But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.
Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
This miss was all on him.
Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was the Bulls’ best player in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
But the 35-year-old guard clearly didn’t go all out on every possession.
Players can justify not closing out by claiming they were prioritizing rebounding position. Wade clearly has no such excuse.
The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.
One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.
We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.
Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.
If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.
For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.