Friday, June 13, 2008

More Game 4 Thoughts: This Just In, It's Still Hilarious

  • Let's talk a little bit about the Ray Allen layup that sealed it.

  • So Ray's got the ball with about 24 seconds on the clock. Sasha at this point, should be making it priority No.1 to stay in front of him. That's his job right there. Not to steal it. He's up against Ray Allen. He doesn't need to foul, he needs to stay. at. home. And what does he do? In typical Vujacic fashion, he tries to be aggressive and take the ball away like he's playing pick up with his friends at Slovenia U. Then he realizes that's probably not a good idea and backs up. But there's one problem. Vujacic's defense going forward is pretty good. Backing up? Not so hot. He settles too far back on his heels, and Allen is already gone. Just burned him. Toast. Machine Failure. Vujacic just had to stay in front of him. If he'd stayed with him and fouled him, and Allen had gotten to the line, at least Vujacic would have done his job. This was just some serious "Ole!" action.
  • Yesterday I had a series of spirited conversations with Lakers fans defending their defense. "It's underrated!" they said. "We come up when we need to." "They have played great defense at certain points!" Okay. Let's take a look at Mr. Gasol on that play. I understand he's trying to make sure Garnett doesn't tip it in like Game 1, or knock down the J. But that's your secondary concern. The only thing you have to do in that situation is defend the basket. The same way it's been the priority for him this entire series and it's been the biggest thing he's failed at. Defending 12 foot jumpers is great and all. But if you leave the underneath of the basket open like a 7-11, you are a bad defender. Gasol watches him, watches him drive at him. And he waits, and then kind of runs over like Kevin in Home Alone when he finds out his family's gone. Absolutely wretched defense.
  • How about Doc Rivers? Interesting note I realized this morning. What's been the primary knock on Rivers his entire coaching career? The inability to establish, manage, and maintain an effective rotation, right? He yanks guys in and out, he leaves some in too long, etc. So what does the hand of fate deliver to him? Key injuries to guys that force him to not do such things. It's hard to screw up a rotation when you have 6 healthy-enough-to-play guys and three of them are superstars. Meanwhile, in this game, all Doc had to do was make small adjustments and motivate his team. Most people, including me, bag on coaches' ability to motivate players. They say that these guys aren't affected by speeches, they're professionals, and furthermore, they shouldn't need it. But the Celtics talk a lot about Doc's motivational speeches, and they are pretty good. And what's more? They worked. Bizarre, but true. Meanwhile, the intellectual wanking of the "Zen Master" is officially questionable as a tactic. Less time on centering the self, more time in preventing the other team from catching the ball under the basket and laying it in. Thanks.
  • Simmons, believe it or not, actually had some good points from the running diary last night. One, the Staples crowd sucked. They absolutely packed it in. They gave up worse than Gasol. If that was Boston, if that was Detroit, hell, if that was San Antonio and the place wasn't sold out, if it was Phoenix or even Orlando, they would have been coming to life at every opportunity to give those guys a boost. I've always said that crowd was Weak Sauce, and last night they cemented it. Second, "5. The Kobe-MJ thing ... done. Over. Jordan never would have let that happen in the Finals. Ever. Under any circumstances. Nobody is ever allowed to bring this up again." Yeah. I would agree with that. Ask yourself that. Do you ever see Jordan letting this happen? Certain people are going to protect Kobe, because well, that's what they do for a living. But up by 24, at home, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals? Legends are expected to get it done. And they did. They just happened to be wearing green.

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