One critical point that I failed to mention specifically in my game recap was ball movement. The team worked the ball around to the open men early and often. In addition, the fact that those men were open doesn’t just mean that there were double teams. It also means that the players were spacing the floor properly.
Think back to a year ago. If Al Jefferson got the ball on the block, he was going to be double teamed right away. If someone like Gerald Green was hovering too close to him, then Gerald’s man could cheat down and still be back in time if the kickout pass came to Green. Nobody was too worried about Telfair or Rondo shooting, so the point guards could sag a little into the paint as well, making Doc’s high post offense suffer a bit. And what about the weak side? When the ball came out, it was either slow in getting swung around or it didn’t get there at all.
Contrast that with the game on Saturday. From the get go, when the ball went into the post, the perimeter players weren’t sitting and watching like they had front row seats. They were sliding and moving to open areas. Ray Allen wasn’t hitting his shots, but he had his fair share of open looks. Eddie House was like a kid in a penny candy shop with a pocket full of dimes. Even Rondo found space inside the arch open enough that it must have felt like practicing jumpers in an empty gym.
And I don't have to tell you what open looks KG got for Perkins.
And when the openings weren’t there on one side, the ball ping ponged its way to the other side. There was no hesitation. The guy at the top of the key didn’t grab the ball and see if he had a lane to drive. He just skipped it across to the next guy. The lesson is as simple as basketball 101. The defender can’t move as fast as a passed ball. If the defense is taking one side away, the other side is out of position. Simple as that.
Don’t just take it from me. Listen to Chris Bosh’s words:
"The Celtics are going to be tough, especially when they get their post game going.
They're easy to defend if they are stagnant, but when they are moving around, throwing the ball into KG and Paul Pierce, they have guys like Eddie House and Ray Allen on the weak side ready to shoot, it makes it tough.
"To have success against them, you are going to have to play great one-on-one defense against them. But it's tough to ask that of everybody when you're guarding three All-Stars. It's going to take a good scouting report to compete against them."
So it sounds like we’re going to see a lot more single coverage this year. Teams won’t be able to double down on any one or two of our stars because the third one would kill them. There will be some matchups that are more favorable than others. It is going to be up to the staff to recognize those matchups and up to the team to take advantage of them. Sure Pierce could beat any one defender on most nights. But if he’s a little tired and being guarded by the best defender on the other team, then the Celtics will have to be aware of that and swing the ball to Ray Allen or work it into the block to KG.
It is going to be a long year for the Celtics opponents if the team can continue to be as unselfish with the ball as they were in the first game. And it is going to be a lot of fun for us to watch.