Posted May 20 2010 2:32PM
TNT analyst and former NBA head coach Doug Collins answered questions from some of the nation's top basketball bloggers on Wednesday. Here is a transcript of that session:
• Michael from www.ValleyoftheSuns.com
A lot of people are going to talk about the Lakers' size advantage in their Western Conference Finals match up with the Suns. If you're Phoenix, how would you defend Los Angeles' big men?
Doug Collins: Well, it's going to be a very, very difficult challenge, because not only are their big men tall, but they are very skilled. I think that Paul Gasol is the most skilled big man in the NBA today with his ability to post on either block, the way he runs the floor, and the way he can shoot the mid-range jump shot.
So he's going to be a very, very difficult match-up. And really with last night, the big difference was -- Bynum, with his knee being less than 100%, it might not be a very good match up in this series. You're probably going see more Lamar Odom. Last night, I mean Lamar Odom was brilliant. He had 19 points, 19 rebounds, with seven on the offensive glass. So the Suns, they've got to play great team defense and they've got to do a better job rebounding the ball. Amaze only had 3 rebounds last night, 2 on the defensive end. And, they've got to be able to get the ball in the open court. The thing about this is the Lakers offense last night was so efficient with about 58% shooting, they had 26 assists and only 9 turnovers so the Suns never could get into the kind of game they wanted to play.
• Chris from www.SilverScreenandRoll.com
The Lakers and Suns are both coming off sweeps. Which team do you think has more momentum going into the WCF?
DC: Well, going into the series, I thought the Suns were in a great mindset. They were very, very confident because they swept the Spurs and they did it in a way where it wasn't just one particular guy or two; their bench came through in Game 2 at home. In Game 3 it was Drogic and Barbosa for 39 off the bench. In Game 4 it was the bench it was the dramatic return of Steve Nash from his eye injury to finish that game. He and Amaze Stoudemire - it was a 2 man game at the end.
As much as I thought the Lakers played well against Utah, I thought that coming in the Suns really felt good about their chances of winning this series, and I think last night they were knocked back a little bit. I think the Lakers came out and knocked them on their heels.
• Seth from www.BrightSideoftheSun.com
As someone who's known Alvin Gentry for a long time, how have you seen him grow as a coach? How much of his success now is a result of him getting better with time versus having this opportunity to coach guys like Steve, Grant, Jason and Amaze?
DC: I think it's a combination of all those things. I think every time you coach a certain team, when you leave that franchise, I think you continue to grow. You take a look at the things that you did, the things you wish you had done better. You analyze your strengths and your weaknesses, and then when you move to your next job, you continue to do the same thing. The biggest growth that I've seen in Alvin is that Al will speak in specifics to players.
I think he's such a great guy, that anytime he would speak in generalities, like "we have to do this better" or "we have to do this" or, as a whole, rather than look at and say "Steve we got to do a better job defending that pick and roll" or "Amaze you got to rebound better". I think his ability to do that with his personality, he's such a great guy, I think that's the growth I really see in him. It's his ability to be more specific in his instruction, and he's grown. And from the standpoint that he's taken a little piece of a lot of guys he's been with and he's put that in his own personality and that's what you have to do, and that's what I admire so much about Alvin
• Don from www.With-Malice.com
Can Derek Fisher have more success against Steve Nash than he did against Westbrook/Williams?
DC: Well I think the interesting thing about that is that Derek Fisher - he's one of my favorite players and I'm not ashamed to say that because the guy is a winner and he's takes the challenge every night. I think a lot of times people want to look at the stats. Well look at Westbrook's stats opposed to Fish, or look what Deron Williams is doing or look at Steve Nash. Derek Fisher has a job to do. Normally with these point guards today - it's a point guard driven league- so much of the game, when you play the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, when you face the 45, 50 pick and rolls from all different angles, it's a team thing. When you have to be able to force Steve Nash, in this series, to where you know your help is going to be. You need to have your teammates cover for you. Fish is tough, one thing he does- a lot of guards when they face a screen, they will lay on the screen -- he fights through that screen and punishes screeners. Like in Game #1 when you looked at his stats- yeah well you know, he was one of three, had 3 free throws, one assist, 5 points, but he does what they need at that position.
And a big part of the turnaround for the Lakers is - people forget that the Suns a few years ago beat this team 4 out of 5 and Kobe was asking to be traded. - was when Derek Fisher came back to the Lakers because that team and Phil Jackson have so much confidence in what he brings every night.
• Andrew from www.HowardTheDunk.com
What do you think is the most important match up in the Boston/Orlando series and why?
DC: Well the thing that's interesting to me is so much of what Orlando does goes through Dwight Howard. I did a game with Kevin McHale for Orlando this year, Kevin, one of the all time great big guys, talked about the effect that a Dwight Howard has on a game. When they run that middle pick and roll - he and Jameer Nelson - and he rolls through, he brings guys off those shooters because they have to help cover, and now he creates 3 point shots, and he cuts the ball. Or, it could be him running down the court hard and getting to the front of the rim and making a smaller player pick him up, which now the Magic are so good then at finding those 3 point shooters in transition.
I thought going into this series that Boston had the same kind of ability to do to Orlando with Dwight Howard what Charlotte did - frustrate him, and get him in foul trouble because they have about four guys they can throw on him. They start the game out with Kendrick Perkins, you can put Rasheed Wallace on him, you come in with Big Baby, who uses his strength and gets down, gets into his legs or you can put Sheldon Williams out there for a few minutes. So they have a lot of ways that they can frustrate him. I thought that that was going to be very critical. When you look at Rashard Lewis, who's such a barometer with that team. Rashard Lewis reminds me for the Orlando Magic a lot what Jason Richardson is for the Phoenix Suns. When he is that consistent third scorer every single night, Orlando is very tough to beat. So those are the two guys. Dwight Howard and what he brings, I think you saw first game he brought 3 of 10, with 7 turnovers, and Rashard Lewis was really a non-factor. So those two guys to me have to play well
• John from www.RedsArmy.com
We keep hearing about teams feeling disrespected and using that as motivation. The Celtics just beat the Cavs in a series where no one was picking them at all. Is the notion of teams effectively using disrespect as motivation legitimate... or is this just something fans believe but isn't really true?
DC: In all my years around it, I've never seen a team that says, "Hey we're going to show you what we're all about." I think Doc Rivers ?did such an incredible job all year long, because if you read is stuff during the season, he said, "I like my team. - The big thing is: Can we get healthy? Can we get everyone ready to go come playoff time?" They lost games during the regular season because Doc aired on the side of "I'm going to be patient, I'm going to be cautious, we're going to cut back on practice time, so we can be ready to go in the NBA playoffs." The Lakers have done the same things this year- 57 wins; a lot of people say they may have won 70. Phil Jackson navigated the landscape. You saw that Gregg Popovich did the same thing with an older team in San Antonio.
So when I look at things, this disrespect thing, you know it's easy to throw out there that they've got a chip on their shoulder, this-that-whatever, but I think what beats in those type of guys' chest is a competitive heart of a champion. That is really what the motivating factor is. And if Boston is healthy, and I talked about this the other day a little bit: If you took the Boston/Cleveland series and if you're going to choose up sides and you had to choose teams, how many guys would you pick off Cleveland, and how many would you take off of Boston? Arguably you'd take LeBron with the first pick, but then you would take five Celtics starters as your next 5 picks.
• Ben from www.OrlandoPinstripedPost.com
Entering this series, the Magic have had another long layoff due to their sweep in the second round. One view is that the break will disrupt the Magic's rhythm and cause them to "rust"; a more optimistic take is that the break allows coach Stan Van Gundy and his staff to better prepare for their opponent, and the players to rest any nagging injuries that acted up during the prior series. Which side do you take here? Or is there a middle ground?
DC: Well I think what I saw the other day in Game 1, was I thought that the Boston Celtics had a sharper edge about themselves. They had just come off that tough series with Cleveland...and Orlando rolled through their series. Obviously you don't want to play extra games, because extra games, you know guys can get hurt or whatever, but when you have the longer layoff, sometimes you lose a little bit of that edge. Like last night in the Phoenix-Lakers game, I talked about it. Both teams had a lot of time off. So if you look at one team that jumped from one series to another, they all had a lot of time off. So I thought the playing field was very even there.
I thought the Celtics were sharper in Game 1 simply because they'd come off that tough series and they went right into that. From my own personal experience, when I coached the Chicago Bulls, in '88-'89, we beat the Cleveland Cavaliers; Michael hit the shot to win Game 5. Then we went right into New York with about a day off, went in and stole Game 1 and won that series. We went to 6, had a day off, and then went right into Detroit and stole Game 1 of that series. So I thought that from our standpoint that year, the fact that we went from a tough series, we were playing well, right into another series, even though we might not have had the preparation, I thought that our team was sharp, fresh, ready to go, and we won the first game of every one of those series' to steal home court.
• Jeff from www.CelticsBlog.com
Doug, put your self in Doc's shoes. How would you approach the various match ups in this series? Who do you focus on limiting and how?
DC: Well I think that when you play the Magic, if you can take away the strength they have at that 3-point line, and to do that you've got to do a great job of individual team defense. What I mean by that is Rondo has got to be able to square up Jameer Nelson and keep him out of the paint. Because what happens is that when you drive that ball into the lane, what you cause is a chain reaction, where your teammates are taught to help you. When you step in to help, chances are you're leaving a 3-point shooter, and that's what the Magic thrive on. You've got to play very good individual defense, you got to keep Carter from breaking you down off the dribble and Jameer Nelson - those are the two key guys that do that for the Magic. Pick and roll defense has to be very good so you don't get strung out and lose your shooters and then you've got to be able to guard the post. And so the less that the Celtics have to double the post on Howard, then they don't have what I call the 'hockey assist', where he kicks that ball out of the double team and the ball swings to the weak side of the floor and you get that open three. In many instances that gets in the corner, which is the shortest 3-point shot on the floor. So, good individual defense, keep Carter and Nelson in front of you so they don't break your defense down, and play excellent post defense against Howard so you don't have to double team him.
• Allen from www.TheHoopDoctors.com
After Carlos Boozer's rather lackluster play in the Jazz's 2nd round sweep at the hands of the Lakers, where he was blocked an amazing 8 times by LA's long defenders, will his stock take a dip in the upcoming free agent market this Summer?
DC: I don't think so, and I think the key thing there is you have to understand, the NBA game is a game of match ups and how does your team match up against the opponent? We talked about the Phoenix Suns earlier and the size of the Lakers, and what a difficult match up that was going to be for the Suns.
What you saw in Game #1 was Stoudemire mainly taking shot jump shots the entire night because it was tough for him to play in the lane against the size of the Los Angeles Lakers. So his game changed last night, he was a jump shooter. Carlos Boozer is an undersized power player so when he gets played by bigger players he's forced to take jump shots and he does not have the opportunity in the paint that he has against a Denver, who had a smaller front line. With Carlos I've always felt like if you can play him with a bigger defender, you make him a jump shooter and you take away a lot of what the Utah Jazz does when they try to bash you and get the ball inside and get those high percentage shots in the lane. So I think when you look at Boozer against the Lakers, to me it's like watching Amaze Stoudemire against the Lakers and how their size forces them to change their game.
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