Division of Labor

In 2007 when I followed Kevin Garnett to the Celtics, there were several reasons why I fully expected a championship right off the bat.  One of those reasons is that Garnett, Pierce and Allen did not all do the same thing.  There was some redundancy with Pierce and Allen, but there were also enough differences (Ray's ability to play off the ball, Pierce's ability to drive and draw fouls) for them to coexist at a high level...and Garnett's game was so unique and diverse that he could be the best player on the floor on a given night without ever even having to encroach on the wings' scoring ground.

That's a completely overlooked aspect of the new "Big 3" craze that's sweeping the NBA.  This isn't fantasy don't just add 3 great players and stir for a title.  They actually have to fit.  Kobe, Gasol and Odom (or Bynum) fit, with minimal overlap...they're essentially an inverted form of KG/Pierce/Allen.  But LeBron, Wade and Bosh never did...they're all scorers first, LeBron and Wade score in the same ways, and Bosh isn't good at the other things that a team needs to be elite so if he's not volume-scoring he can't be used maximally.  I was willing to consider that maybe LeBron could adapt his game Magic-style and maybe Bosh would concentrate more on crashing the glass and playing defense, but so far that just doesn't look like it's in them. 

There are rumors that Melo and Chris Paul want to join Amare Stoudemire in New York.  If that happens, let me save you some time...they'll have even bigger issues than Miami, because there just isn't enough division of labor.

Now, let's bring it back to the Celtics.  What I Witnessed last night wasn't a Chosen was the Celtics division of labor working to absolute optimal form.  Consider:

Rondo was THE distributor.  He had 16 assists to only 8 shot attempts and 3 TOs.  He didn't worry about scoring, he only distributed and helped out on defense.

KG was THE defense and interior presence.  He outrebounded the rest of the Celtics starters combined, was standing in Wade's face every time he tried to come off a pick and drive, and just generally closed off the paint.

Allen and Pierce were THE scorers.  They combined for 60 points on only 39 shot attempts.  The almost outscored the entire Heat starting line-up by themselves (60 to 62).  Now they only combined for 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal between them, but that was irrelevant.  [i]That wasn't their responsibility.[/i]  The were asked to score.  They scored.

See, the way this team is structured, Garnett, Rondo, Pierce and Allen could all have their best games of the year on a single night without stepping on each others' toes.  They just about did that last night.  That will NEVER happen in Miami.  The Heat may learn to coexist, and with their talents they will likely be formidable come playoff time.  But with all of the overlap, LeBron and Wade and Bosh will NEVER all have their best games on the same night.  They can't, because their bests require the same space.

But on this team, the division of labor can be almost perfect.  Everyone has their jobs, and they can all do them to perfection without overlap.  It makes for beautiful basketball.  It makes for Celtics basketball. 

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