Boston must be a happy team. For the first time in franchise history, they started out a series by nabbing two road wins and can close out the series with two straight home wins. This interesting game and series got me thinkin’…here’s some proof!
-Rondo gets into the lane at will. Not only does he effortlessly go to the hoop, but when he’s encountered by the solid Magic defense, he expertly avoids being blocked with an amazing array of up-and-unders and reverse layups (Big Baby is also good at this, particularly when going from the left side of hoop to the right). You’d think Rondo is British, as I’ve heard “Rondo” and “English” mentioned in the same sentence countless times during the playoffs (in reference to the spin he puts on the ball for his layups).
-Rondo hit his jumpers. He looks unstoppable.
-Paul Pierce is gaining confidence, getting to his spots on the floor, and using his veteran savvy. Other than Kobe, no one in the league draws shooting fouls off of jump shots and pump fakes the way Pierce does. Because of these two developments, he is scoring as efficiently as ever.
-J.J. Reddick is a straight (basket)baller. He obviously is a good 3-point shooter, but now he gets into the lane off the dribble and can hit shots from almost anywhere on the floor. He might not jump out of the gym, but he has a good first step, good ball-handling, and good decision-making–these three skills let him to drive and create high percentage shots for himself and others. Those facts coupled with his dangerous FT prowess make him difficult to defend around the hoop.
-The Magic made their comeback with visibly intense defense. That being said, they did not hit the defensive glass so well.
-As efficient as Dwight was during Game 2, even during post-ups, I’m not so sure this is the best offensive strategy for the Magic. Because the Celtics are not double-teaming Howard in the post, Howard is able to get to the charity stripe and convert a good percentage of his looks around the hoop. However, the lack of double-team does not afford good passing options for Howard–the Celtics stay at home on the shooters and guard cutters expertly. As an alternative, I agree with Mark Jackson’s idea that the Magic should run more pick-and-rolls with Howard, and I agree for the following reasons: A) Howard still gets open looks off of the pick-and-roll. B) In addition, the defense is generally more flat-footed/unprepared for the quick feed to Howard after a pick-and roll, meaning he can get dunks/layups before the inevitable hard foul from the Celtics (as Mark Jackson said, Hammertime anybody?). When the Celtics have time to react to Howard they frustrate him and put him on the line, not exactly Howard’s favorite area on the court. C) The pick-and-roll, despite being a two-man play, gets the whole team involved better than letting Howard go to work in the post in single-coverage. The pick-and-roll allows for a ball-handler to be active with the ball, rather than passively swinging it or making post feeds. And at that, the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll can involve his open teammates along the perimeter with the extra defensive attention needed to recover on Howard/stopping the handler on the play.
-Vince Carter maintained his reputation has a poor clutch performer. Down the stretch he made some key jumpers, but also shot several shots while falling away from the hoop and missed two consecutive FTs with 31.9 seconds left when down 3.
-This game had too many poor foul calls, lots of slipping, and lots of stripping (of the ball of course, get those dirty thoughts out of your head).
-Reddick’s timeout-fail was key, but the refs should have added time to the clock. Obviously Reddick should have called a timeout after rebounding the ball, but when he called his timeout near mid-court, there were definitely more than 3.5 seconds left. The rules allow for refs to review this type of play, and I can’t figure out why they didn’t.
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