Tag: Los Angeles Boston Game 1

NBA finals, Laker Celtics Game 1: If the power forward matchup is key, Boston is in trouble

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gasol_2_game1.pngPau Gasol may not have the force or vast defensive impact of Dwight Howard, but his Game 1 performance provided a convincing case that Gasol is one of the best all-around bigs in the game.

Put him in the high post, and he set up plays for his teammates while pulling Kevin Garnett away from the basket. Put him in the low post, and he backed down KG and Rasheed Wallace while drop-stepping his way to glory. Flip to the other side of the court and Gasol was providing exquisite help on Boston’s perimeter players (note his end-of-shot-clock block of Ray Allen on a pick-and-roll switch) while also staying home on Garnett and helping around the rim.

Then, there’s the doozie: eight offensive rebounds, which matched the Celtics’ team total. Those extra possessions are back-breakers for a quality defensive team, and near the top of the list of explanations for Boston’s Game 1 loss.

Kevin Arnovitz captured Gasol’s Game 1 performance in exquisite video over at TrueHoop, in which he captured Pau’s balanced offensive and defensive impact. There was no facet of the game in which Gasol lacked in last night’s game, and his outing is well worth revisiting.

However, just as pertinent is a question posed by Arnovitz regarding his play in these playoffs juxtaposed with his 2008 run:

On Thursday night in Game 1, the Lakers dominated the Celtics in the
paint (48-30) and in second chance points (16-0). Kevin Garnett, often
regarded as the paragon of intensity, spent most of his evening
confined to the perimeter. Meanwhile Gasol set up shop at the elbow
and, when he wanted to, down on the low block. Should we ascribe
Gasol’s success to toughness, or is it the fluency that comes with
applying that varied skill set over and over and over again for more
than 28 months in a system that runs on trust and precision?

NBA finals, Lakers Celtics: L.A. made statistical anomalies look easy in Game 1

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bynum_game1.pngEven if the Laker lead in Game 1 never got completely out of hand, there’s no question that Los Angeles was in control. L.A. was in sync both offensively and defensively, and their offensive balance and defensive resistance offered the Celtics a challenge they’ve rarely faced in these playoffs.

It was a bit odd to see a Boston team that has fared so well throughout this postseason give way to L.A. in so many different regards, but that was the story of the finals’ opening game. Zach Lowe of CelticsHub broke down some of the Lakers’ triumphs in greater statistical detail:

It’s a recipe for disaster: giving up a good shooting percentage and allowing
a lot of offensive rebounds. In Game 1, the Lakers shot 48.7 percent from
the floor and rebounded 12 of their 39 misses–an offensive rebounding
rate of about 31 percent. To put that in perspective, only two teams
recorded offensive rebounding rates of better than 30 percent this season–Memphis (31.3) and Detroit (30.3).

So Boston, an elite defense, allowed Los Angeles to shoot well and
dominate the offensive glass. A good team can win when allowing one of
those things to happen, but not both.

How rarely do teams pull off this dubious double against Boston? [It’s only been done in] 24 games out of 304–or about 8 percent of all Celtics
games over the last three seasons. And as you can see, Boston is now
6-18 in those 24 games.

The Los Angeles Lakers accomplished something unusual last night in
decimating Boston’s defense with their shooting and their rebounding,
with much of the latter built on aggressive dribble penetration from
Kobe, Jordan Farmar and others.

As a result, the Lakers posted an offensive efficiency of 113.3 points per 100 possessions, the third highest that Boston has allowed all postseason. The only two lesser defensive performances? The Game 3 decimation at the hands of the Cavaliers in the second round (140.9 points allowed per 100 possessions), and the Magic’s blowout win in Game 5 of the conference finals (120.7 points allowed per 100 possessions).

That’s quite a high mark for the Lakers to set from the opening tip, with Boston’s biggest concern perhaps being that L.A.’s performance seems replicable. No one Laker really stepped outside themselves for Game 1, but their ball movement, penetration, rebounding efforts, and shooting were enough to dismiss the Celtics with relative ease. Boston is a good enough team that we shouldn’t expect it to be that way in every game of this series, but their defense will have to refocus and improve from this Game 1 slip.

NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game One: Who are these guys in green and what did they do with the real Celtics?


Boston-Bench.jpgThe Celtics were angry when they went in the locker room. John McEnroe angry.

That’s not the norm for a veteran team, and it was not at all like the Celtics team that has marched through the playoffs. But they didn’t play like those Celtics, either. These Celtics were pissed. Not with the referees (well, yes they were but not as much as you’d think).

They were angry with themselves. For the rebounds they gave up, the bad passes, the blown layups. For simply getting out worked all night.

“You saw it in guys’ faces, you heard it , from reactions after the game just how the guys felt,” Paul Pierce said. “It wasn’t a typical loss locker room. There was some angry people in there and they showed it. But that’s just the pride.”

That pride went before the fall in Game 1. Little things started to snowball on the Celtics, their pride got wrapped up in frustration, and pretty soon the Lakers were winning the hustle categories (17 to 4 on 50/50 balls, according to the Celtics own numbers). And the Lakers were winning the game.

Boston had better get that pride back by Sunday for Game 2. And bring a few adjustments with it. One loss to start a series on the road can be overcome. Two and that mountain gets a whole lot higher.

Boston’s problems started with dribble penetration. It’s something the Celtics usually shut off better than anybody in the league. They overload the strong side of the floor so there a wall of big men to greet the penetrator, but the Lakers did a good job quickly swinging the ball around the court to the weak side. The Celtics, as they do, closed out on the guy getting the pass, and usually that means a contested jumper on the weak side from the opposition.

The Lakers made a conscious effort not to settle for that jumper and to drive off of the pass. Other times they just blew by guards from the top of the key. They did what they wanted and got into the paint, and that is where things started to break down for the Celtics. A big man would have to come over to help the guard who was beat. That in turn led to offensive rebounds for the Lakers as nobody helped the helper, nobody was there to box out Pau Gasol (who had eight offensive rebounds alone).

“There was huge dribble penetration,” Glen Davis said. “We can’t have that next game if we want to win. We’re a better defensive team than that. We’ve got to help out.”

It also led to foul trouble. That and a quick-whistled referee crew. Ray Allen had two early fouls and sat, and he didn’t like it at all. But it wasn’t just Allen, it was Piece and Tony Allen and a number of other Celtics. (And it wasn’t just Celtics, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher had early foul troubles and had to sit, the officials were in love with the quick whistle all around.) Ray Allen admitted he frustrated having to watch so much of the game and said one foul of his five was clearly legit.”

But they also knew the fouls were a symptom of bigger issues, not the problem in and of themselves.

“I thought the fouls were called because (the Lakers) were more physical,” Doc Rivers said. “I thought the Lakers were clearly the more physical team. I thought they were more aggressive. I thought they attacked us the entire night, and you know, I’ve always thought the team that is the most aggressive gets the better calls.”

However, the fouls helped the snowball pick up steam. The Celtics rhythm was thrown off and they could not adjust. Gasol was aggressive and outplayed Kevin Garnett, who could not get comfortable. And at times KG looked like his knees still bothered him. A lot. He missed two easy chippies under the basket. He made some horrific passes. The length of the Lakers had him and other Celtics rushing shots.

This is a veteran Celtics team. They got over the anger and frustration pretty quickly — certainly more quickly than their fans will. They know it’s about making a few adjustments then just playing with a lot more energy. They knew what they needed to do.

Because one more game like this one and the Celtics will have plenty to really be angry about.