Thursday, June 05, 2008

Good Triumphs Over Evil in Game 1

I assume we all right-thinking folks equate the Celtics with good and the Lakers with EVIL, right?

I assume this Yahoo recap is going to be like most, and focus on Paul Pierce getting injured, and coming back and contributing and being a badass. KG's 9-22 isn't the most impressive stat, but he dominated in the first half, and I think he had the more plays (the kind of plays that don't show up in the box score) that determined this game.

Without his energy on the boards, I think you can take away at least 5 boards from his teammates.

But one play in particular reminded me of the KG I got old with here in Minnesota. I believe it was the 4th quarter--Celtics up by a handful, and Ray Allen, as he did a number of times this game, drove baseline like he were the Ray Allen 10 years ago and, got stuck and just chucked a ball towards midcourt. It was clearly going to be a backcourt violation. Unless you happen to have a spry, passionate, athletic 7 footer who patrols the perimeter. KG took a couple of steps and launched himself to save the ball from being a backcourt violation. I don't think there is a single player in the NBA besides KG who could have made that play. The ball ended up in a Celtic hand, and they scored two points. It went from deflating turnover to adding to a lead. It was a small thing, but a huge play.

So, KG's FG % wasn't spectacular, but he did lead his team in scoring, got double digit rebounds, and made a handful of small plays that help a team win. I didn't think the Lakers would have an answer for him, and I see nothing to suggest that they will. They can only count on fatigue slowing down the Big Ticket.

One thing I don't think the Celtics can count on is the rather abysmal performance of Kobe Bryant. 9-26 shooting (which "improves" to 6-23 if you remove his 3 missed three pointers) and a court rating of -13--that's not typical Kobe, certainly.

Key, most underlooked stat in Game 1 will be Bench Play. The bench scoring was roughly equal. But that's where the equality ends. Look at the guys the Celtics Did Not Play--Tony Allen, Eddie House and compare them to the Laker's DNP'ers--Chris Mihm? He's still in the league? Ariza? Mbenga? What? Who? Where? What?

Like I said, in terms of scoring, the bench points were pretty equal--the Laker's bench scored 15 points; the Celtics 17 points. But look at the +/- stats for those benches, and the difference becomes hugely glaring. For those of you who don't follow hockey, this stat is quite simple--points scored by your offense are part of your total. Points scored by the other team while you were playing defense counts as a negative.

The Celtics Bench was +16. That's pretty impressive all by itself. The Celtics brought in bench players and they scored and defended well. The Laker's bench was NEGATIVE 20. While the scoring was equal, the defensive prowess of the Laker's bench is highly questionable.

I thought going into this game that both team's had equally shallow benches. This game suggests something else altogether. It suggests that the Laker's Sixth Man Vujacic is such a liability on defense that his presumed great shooting is totally offset by his horrible defense. That Luke Walton can play almost 14 minutes and not score a point is troubling. That his team lost 5 points when he was on the court is more troubling.

Keep on eye on bench play, not just bench scoring--it may determine this series.

No comments: