Welcome new Celtics fans. (Or bandwagoners?)
But have no fear. Basketball is my domain. Allow this long time Celtics advocate to break down five key moves that will subsequently help them preserve an NBA Finals victory, and help you further learn about the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics a little bit more.
(SIDE NOTE: And if you want to learn even more, you can pick up the Finals Preview of SLAM Magazine and read my 5,000 word column on the Finals. If not, then fine, it’s your choice to remain ignorant of both teams.)
5.) Let Rajon Rondo be Rajon Rondo. As that annoying lunatic Jeff Van Gundy says, “Allow Rage-On Rondo to Rage-On!” He was crystal clear in the Eastern Conference Finals. He may have been a little ‘too careful’ on some of the times he had open layups in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals, but he played smart basketball and set up Paul Pierce for easy foul shot situations. He’ll have an easy job against Derek Fisher defensively. Offensively, all he has to do is dispense the ball and not turn it over. Rondo doesn’t need to be an offensive key for the Celtics — he only needs to be that annoying defender that picks the Lakers’ pockets, coercing turnovers.
4.) The Pick and Pop. From what I’ve seen this season, the Celtics don’t run a lot of pick and rolls with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Problem is, Allen gets trapped a lot, and his speed isn’t as exuberant as it used to be, so that presents a problem itself. Now, I don’t see why Pierce isn’t included more in these situations. He’s a lot stronger than Allen, and that alone instigates a big advantage in using offensive power. Though, to negate that, whenever a teammate sets up a pick for him, he jumbles the other way instead of trying to dribble through the pick. I’ve never understood that about Pierce; though, it befuddles defenses and opens up the pick and roll later in the game. Let’s see some of those sky hook passes to Garnett from Allen!
3.) Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine. Yeah, what the hell happened to Tony Allen? He played with moxie during the 24-win season (well, up until his nasty injury that I refuse to write about), but seemed to lose confidence during this season. However, unlike James Posey, he can guard Kobe with his lateral quickness, and make Bryant work for his shots. The thing is, Allen is rumored to be OUT for the Finals, which renders the Allen key useless. Which is why I bring in Scalabrine. This is what bandwagon Celtics fans and non-Celtics fans need to know. Scalabrine doesn’t get the credit people refuse to give him. He’s the anti-Tony Allen. He plays team defense and doesn’t make stupid mistakes. Tony Allen is all athleticism and no brains, whereas Scalabrine is all brains and little athleticism. The good thing Scal does, though, is that he keeps the guy he’s guarding off the boards. Despite his low rebounding numbers, he’s only being outrebounded by 1.5 boards every 48 minutes. He’s also holding opposing power forwards to 39.6% shooting, an an Opponent’s PER of 10.4 (which is an absolutely phenomenal number). In very limited time, he’s even better against small forwards. Scal doesn’t score much, but he doesn’t hurt the team nearly as much as most assume. When the primary goal is to shut down an opposing forward, Scal has done an exceptional job. Call me crazy but, even though I wouldn’t take Scal over Leon Powe, I’d take him on my team instead of Tony Allen.
Hell, I even wrote a quick poem about Tony Allen in first person TA-style view:
Well I was an Oklahoma boy, Big City bound
D and Al who came with me, just aren’t around
I had my ups and downs, but now can’t ya see
I tried to dunk on a continuation and out went my knee
So I came back slow, but I worked really hard
People believed in me, and my family was so proud
Til I was foolin around, raising a little hell
and ouch snapped the sound of my ACL
2.) Pound Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Vladimir Radmanovic. I think the Celtics will beat the crap out of all three of the listed. The key here is to continue doing it, too. There’s going to be a lot of foul troubles in the front court. Doc [Rivers] and Tom Thibodeau (whom you new Celtics fans/wagoners have no clue who he is) will have the Celtics’ bigs playing against the Lakers’ bigs as tough as it comes. Look out for Doc and Tom to be utilizing backup bigs to push around the Lakers and clock them in the head once they try to enter the paint.
1.) Paul Pierce. Seriously: who on the Lakers is going to stop Paul Pierce? Not Kobe, he’ll be chasing Ray Allen. Not Lamar Odom, he’ll be trying to muscle up on Kevin Garnett. Not Vladimir Radmanovic, he’ll be too busy thinking about the next open 3 Kobe’s going to try to get him (clear, easy attempt to see I was throwing some sarcasm out there in case you’re oblivious). Pierce’s ability to get to the foul line may be forgotten about by the Lakers, and they’ll pay. Really, for the last several seasons, he’s been at the top of the league in foul shot attempts. What makes you think this series is going to be any different? Like an old quote:
“Take this down,” said O’Neal. “My name is Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce is the (expletive) truth. Quote me on that and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth.”