Micah Downs

Boston’s pick-and-roll defense has not looked good


First, the brilliant (and OG) Celtics Blog posted a composite of several Boston preseason game stories suggesting the same thing — the usually strong Celtics pick-and-roll defense has not been good this preseason.

Brian Scalabrine has come right out and said it on Comcast SportsNet New England after the Sixers used it to carve up the Celtics Monday night. But he’s not terribly worried about it. Yet.

“When you watched the 76ers tonight they were getting to the middle of the floor almost on every pick and roll. A lot of that has to do with the lack of practice and during this time they’re going to be able to work through that,” Scalabrine said.

Last season the Celtics were the best in the league at shutting down the ball handler in the pick-and-roll — he shot only 35.8 percent and scored just .71 points per possession. The roll man did a little better — shot 47.3 percent and scored .94 points per possession — but that was still good enough for 7th best in the league. (Stats via SynergySports.)

It was nothing like that in recent games, particularly on Monday night against Philly. The ball handler has been able to come off the pick and get into the lane, not be shut off. And when the ball handler does that to any defense things break down.

One key thing in Boston’s favor — Kevin Garnett didn’t play Monday. He is the anchor of their defense, and he is the guy that pushes himself and teammates. But he’s not going to play 48 minutes a game for 82 games either — Boston has to be better when he is not on the court.

As always with the Celtics, the picture isn’t about what the Sixers can do in mid October, it’s about the big picture. Meaning the start of the season and the bigger goals beyond that.

“But Doc talked about Miami — ‘This is our first game, this is what we’re preparing for’ — well, Miami has two very good pick-and-roll players and you’re going to see 70 of those a night,” Scalabrine said. “So the Celtics need to kind of sure up their pick-and-roll coverage and when they do that — and they’ll have that little gap before that first Miami game — look for them to tighten up the defense a little bit more.”

Boston opens the season against the Heat in Miami.

Kristaps Porzingis grew up a Kobe fan. Still is one.


When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.

So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.

Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.

“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”

There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.

In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.

There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.

(Hat tip NBA reddit)

Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton’s car stolen

Luke Walton

If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.

Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports NBCBayArea.com.

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.

Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.

Yikes. That’s serious.

I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.

Pacers guard George Hill returns Tuesday against Wizards

Paul George, Marcus Morris
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.

Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.

Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.

Hassan Whiteside on intentional fouls: “It’s not working, so keep fouling me”

Hassan Whiteside

Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.

Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.

And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”

He’s even smart at not getting fouled.

Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.

“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”

Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.

And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.