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A Realist Point Of View: 5/28/2012

The playoffs are in full swing, so unless I am drunk, hungover, binging/purging, involved in a domestic dispute, creeping, negotiating a CBA on behalf of the NBA owners, arrested, or just plain lazy, expect a column every few days with notes on the 2012 NBA Playoffs, a “Realist Point Of View”.

Heat vs. Celtics

Now that the Scheme Team has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, fans are not only wondering why it took so long for Dwyane Wade and Lebron James to simultaneously explode, but whether they can sustain their level of play for the remainder for the playoffs, and particularly against the Boston Celtics.

In last week’s column, I felt strongly that the answer was a firm “yes”. If we have already seen playoff scoring eruptions from dynamic duos in past such as Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant from 2001-2003 and Elgin Baylor and Jerry West throughout the 60s, then why not Dwyane Wade and Lebron James?

Then I re-watched the tape, and realized just how badly Frank Vogel had gotten outcoached in the Miami-Indiana series, particularly with his failure to trap Lebron and Wade, or at minimum, vary his defensive schemes. Once Eric Spoelstra finally caught on by Game 3, Lebron/Wade began exposing the Pacers’ defense by involving Roy Hibbert in as many screen/rolls as possible, waiting for Hibbert to fall back instead of “show” or trap, and then attacking the paint with a variety of floaters and layups.

This will not happen against the Boston Celtics.  Doc Rivers, unlike Frank Vogel, WILL trap Lebron James and Dwyane Wade and is known to mix up his defensive schemes against elite perimeter players. Moreover, Kevin Garnett is the BEST big man in the NBA when it comes to trapping the screen & roll. His ability to move his feet and utilize his length will force Miami’s dynamic duo to either take more perimeter shots than they did against Indiana, or defer to their role players.

However, while Wade/Lebron may fail to experience the same level of offensive proficiency that they did during the Indiana series, they should nonetheless overcome the Celtics fairly easily given their age and injuries. I’d be shocked if this series went more than 6 games.

What should I wear?

I’m still trying to nail down my attire for next week’s big meeting. The good news is that I have narrowed down my choices to the following, or perhaps even a combination thereof.

Doug Collins

Before we close the season on the Philadelphia 76ers, I’d like to recognize Doug Collins for once again overachieving with his 2012 squad, and proving again that Collins remains one of the best Coaches in the NBA.

Since his first head coaching stint in 1987, Collins has steadily improved the fortunes of every NBA team that he has coached including the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, and now the Sixers. And while he  mimics the Larry Brown approach of simultaneously maximizing his team’s talents while burning them out within 3-years, he is immensely valuable when it comes to changing an organization’s culture, transforming his team’s attitude, and laying a solid foundation for the future.

Hopefully, Collins will one day get the opportunity to coach a team with elite-level talent and compete for a championship.


7 Responses to “A Realist Point Of View: 5/28/2012”

  1. I agree that Kevin Garnett is an elite defender (one of the best ever), but that the longer the series goes, the less likely the chances for the Celitcs.

    The one difference with the James/Wade dynamic is that they are both primarily back-court players.

    Collins would be a great GM; one that can set the standards and culture for an organization and also be able to coach his coaches.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | May 28, 2012, 12:50 pm
  2. As you pointed out, Kevin Garnett did a superb job of SLOWING Dwyane Wade and LeBron James from scoring at ease. Unfortunately, the other Celtic defenders failed to play solid rotation defense (notably Paul Pierce and Ray Allen). As evidenced by the Mike Miller and Shane Battier sightings, the remaining Celtics are just too slow at stopping or closing out Miami’s quick ball movement. The Celtics surely miss Avery Bradley.

    Additionally, Boston did a miserable job of rebounding the ball effectively. Ryan Hollins looked lost during his short stint off the bench, which accounted for about 3 offensive rebounds by Miami. Brandon Bass was no where to be seen around the basket as Miami did a plausible job of boxing out Boston’s bigs.

    Although both teams agreed to follow Rule # 76 (No excuses, play like a champion), the lack of depth is more detrimental to Boston than it is to Miami. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are forced to play 40 minutes!

    With the refs clearly playing favorites this series (waaaaaaaaay too many glancing Technical Fouls), I don’t see Boston making it past five games.

    Posted by Nick | May 29, 2012, 12:10 pm
  3. The Celtics will get the trapping down in half-court defense, but transition defense is still an issue for them. Rondo especially needs to not turn the ball over or over-commit on offensive rebounds. Either of those mistakes tends to open up fast breaks, which kill them.

    I wrote a few pieces on Rondo recently, basically saying that he needs to be the man now for the Celtics.


    Posted by NBA Babble | May 29, 2012, 9:55 pm
  4. The fact that the Celtics are old isn’t really as big a problem as I thought it would be (the Spurs, after all, are just as old). The real issue lies in the fact that the C’s LOOK and PLAY old. That combined with Miami’s new Team Ball approach, spells the end for the original Big 3.

    Posted by CCF | May 30, 2012, 2:20 pm
  5. I think the better big 3 was Kareem Magic and Worthy.

    Or Parrish, Bird and McHale

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | May 30, 2012, 8:53 pm
  6. I never understood why the Heat were favored going into this series. The Celtics have 4 of the 6 best players, their bench had (for the most part) outplayed the Heat’s bench during the season, and (most importantly) the Celtics have a much better coach. Yes, Bosh may come back starting tonight, but that’s a big piece to have to reincorporate this deep into the series, and there’s a good chance that his return will wind up disrupting the Heat. It would not be a surprise at all for the Celtics to complete their comeback in this series; in fact, it would be a bit surprising at this point if they didn’t.

    Posted by E-Dog | June 5, 2012, 5:12 am
    • completely agree with e-dog, though I also think the dismal first half performances by wade have largely negated the good work that lebron has done to keep the heat in this series at all … the fact that the heat struggle with rondo wouldn’t matter nearly as much if it didn’t often seem like wade’s contributions in the game are actually detrimental to the team’s success. bottom line: without lebron, this is an easy four game sweep for boston; without wade, it’s still probably a 2 – 2 series …

      Posted by Ken | June 5, 2012, 12:23 pm

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