Tuesday, May 6
8:00 PM ET
TD BankNorth Garden
Scott Souza went over the topic of how Boston plans to defend James today in his column :
The strategy will likely be to start Pierce on James and involve a lot of James Posey off the bench. The Celtics will trap him often, but will be wary of getting carried away with it given the perimeter shooting threats the Cavs have surrounded him with late this season.
``There will be many bodies in front of him, as long as there are not too many bodies in front of him,'' Rivers said. ``You can overdue it. If you do it like a team, you can get away with some of that (trapping) stuff. If you start running at him at halfcourt he's going to kill you."
Another matchup that may draw the interest of Celtics fans is Rajon Rondo vs. Delonte West, who spent his first three professional years with the C’s. Omitting the one or two inch height difference, it is apparent that Rondo has all of the physical advantages in his favor, particularly the lateral quickness. West, as we all know, is a tough player who will give his all on each possession, but "you can’t teach quickness." As long as Rondo plays attack basketball and makes it a point to force West to his right side on the defensive end, the Celtics should be in good shape.
The area where the Celtics may find themselves struggling, however, could be the rebounding column. Cleveland is one of the better rebounding teams in the league, both statistically and visually, and may even be more dangerous than their season statistics show due to the mid-season addition of Ben Wallace. If the Celtics want to put themselves in a good position to win each game throughout this series, especially on the road, it is impeccable that they will need to make sure Cleveland doesn’t dominate the glass.
In addition, and most importantly, Boston’s defense must be as strong as ever. As Doc Rivers eluded to in Scott Souza’s column, LeBron James can pick an entire defense apart. The Celtics need to make sure Cleveland’s role players and open shooters aren’t the ones that put them away. Their defensive rotations must be extremely on-point, especially on the road, and that sense of urgency must be visible at all times.
Let’s just play Celtics basketball. We can sit here and break down every aspect of the game and discuss each teams’ tendencies, but at the end of the day, the only way they end up on Kenny Smith’s "Gone Fishin’" segment is if they beat themselves.
Bring on the Cavaliers; let’s go Celtics.
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas / Kendrick Perkins
PF Ben Wallace / Kevin Garnett
SF LeBron James / Paul Pierce
SG Wally Szczerbiak / Ray Allen
PG Delonte West / Rajon Rondo
Key Matchup: LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce
It’s actually more like LeBron James vs. Boston’s team defense as a whole, but Pierce will get long looks at defending him throughout the series. These two stars have had their "chippy" battles in the past, and it’s only fitting that they’ll go head-to-head in the playoffs. LeBron clearly has a lot of advantages over Pierce, especially physically. He is not a guy you will be able to stop one-on-one; it takes a strong collective effort to even contain him for stretches. Individually, Pierce needs to play aggressive defense while staying out of foul trouble, attack offensively, make sure this doesn’t turn into a one-on-one showdown, and keep his composure.
Watching LeBron James and Paul Pierce, arguably the top two small forwards in the game, will be one heck of a matchup to follow.
Celtics X-Factor: James Posey
When the first unit is on the floor, Paul Pierce will likely get the most looks at LeBron defensively. When Pierce is resting and/or taking care of another assignment, it is probable that James Posey will get a shot at defending "The King" as well. Posey has been known throughout his career as a tough, active defender, but LeBron James is a whole ‘nother animal. Stopping LeBron is impossible, but let’s hope Pose can force him to take tough shots and at least keep him in check for short stretches.
CLE – Eric Snow (sore left knee – out for season)
BOS – Scot Pollard (torn tendon in left ankle – out for season)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Defensive Rotations
- Sense of Urgency
- Ball Control