What To Do: Tied at Two
After four games of the Finals that has the clubs even at two games each, we revisited the matchup with our assistant coaches who have given us their analysis on each of the teams. Joe Wolf kicks things with off his latest notes on beating Los Angeles while Jim Boylan gives his thoughts on beating the Celtics. After reading their gameplans, vote on the Bucks.com homepage for the coach that you think has the better plan to bring home the championship.
"Based on last night's game especially, I think we saw that lack of ball movement is really a problem when you're playing against the Celtics. Last night the Lakers held onto the ball quite a bit. I think Phil Jackson even commented on it after the game, that they over-dribbled a little too much."
"In my earlier gameplan against Boston, I said if you keep the ball on one side of the floor, they really load up that side defensively and make it really hard for you to score because they defend in waves. If you get past one guy, there's another one right there. That was a big problem for the Lakers last night."
(In the two Los Angeles losses, they've had 31 assists against 31 turnovers. 18 of those turnovers were steals.)
"Kobe Bryant has been playing really well. He shot the ball well last night and made a cluster of threes against them."
(Bryant is averaging 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.0 block in 40.0 minutes in the Finals.)
"I thought every time that L.A. looked like they were going to extend the lead, Boston was able to come up with a couple stops, get some hoops and keep the Lakers within reach. In the second half the Celtics came out with a lot of energy and pulled themselves back into the game. Then they got tremendous play from their bench to make the difference. Glen Davis, Nate Robinson and Tony Allen all of those guys played really big."
(Last night's game was the biggest scoring night for either of the benches in the series as the Celtics reserves put up 36 points and 12 rebounds on 13-27 shooting from the field, 48.2 percent. Prior to last night's game, the Celtics bench had averaged 22.0 points on 24-55 shooting, 43.6 percent.)
"It's pretty simple, I keep beating this point up, but if you don't move the ball against the Celtics, it's going to be very difficult for you to score enough points to win the game. That has been proven time and again in this series."
"If the Lakers can find a way to get some ball movement - and in that ball movement, be aggressive in getting into the paint and attacking the basket, I think they'll have their success. If they continue to play kind of an individual game, it's going to be tough for them to beat the Celtics, especially in Boston."
(When the Lakers have won, they've had 31 assists against 24 turnovers. Not a huge difference from the losses, but the Celtics have nine steals in those games compared to the 18 in the games that L.A. has lost.)
"I think someone for the Lakers has to step up besides Kobe. I think Lamar Odom is a candidate for that. With the ball movement aspect, you need to be able to put the ball on the floor and be creative with it in some way. Lamar Odom can do that. With Bynum's knee being a little iffy right now, Odom is getting more minutes because Bynum can't get up and down the court consistently. They need someone like that to come out and have a good game. That doesn't necessarily mean that he has to score a lot. It means that he has to be a facilitator and a creator out there. If that leads to some points for him too, that's great."
(Odom has taken some heat, especially after the first two games, for his numbers in the Finals. Foul trouble has been an issue as he has had five fouls in games one, two and four and four fouls in game three. In the first two games he averaged 4.0 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 33.3 percent, 3-9 and going to the line just three times. In the last two games Odom has produced 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while hitting 66.7 percent of his shots, 10-15, but going to the line just twice.)
"The other guy that I mentioned earlier is the low-post presence of Pau Gasol. I like the way he's been playing in the series so far. He's been doing what he needs to do and that's getting the ball in the post and then playing through his activity in the post. He's got great footwork and moves down there, up and under type stuff. That gives the Celtics a hard time and gets him to the free throw line."
(Gasol is averaging 19.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 blocks in 40.7 minutes. He's hitting 54.2 percent from the field, 26-48, and has gone to the line 39 times, the most of anyone in the Finals.)
"Those two guys (Gasol and Odom) are big. If Odom can be a creative guy out there and if Gasol can contribute the way he has been, they can make the difference for the Lakers in this series."
Joe Wolf told us that he's sticking with the original plan that we detailed in part one. He made a few comments on those points and added a couple new wrinkles from what he's seen in the first four games...
"When they attack the length of the Lakers, they have to make the layups. Last night I think they had eight or nine missed layups and still won the game. They can be much more effective in the half court game if they just make their layups. That's a very obvious thing but it's a truth coming from game four."
(Free throws only tell part of the story on how aggressive teams have been, but so far Boston is competing with Los Angeles from the line with the teams at 109 and 118, respectively, in free throw attempts.)
"Second chance points have been huge for both teams. L.A. won the second chance points 16-0 in their game one win and had a 10-7 edge in game three. When Boston won game four they were up 20-10 in second chance points."
"Paint points are still a big-time indicator. In each game except game three, the team that won paint points won the game. It was L.A. 48-30 in game one, Boston 36-26 in game two and Boston 54-34 in game four."
"Nate Robinson was a big surprise in game four, which I didn't have in the original plan. He's part of the bench, which I thought could be a factor with relatively evenly matched starters.
(The Celtics two wins have come when their bench outscored the Lakers 36-18 and 24-15. In the Lakers wins, their bench lost 22-26 and 15-16. However, Los Angeles' bench has shot 16-27, 59.3 percent in their wins against 13-31, 41.9 percent, in their losses. The three point shooting from the bench has been L.A. 4-17, 23.5 percent, and Boston 7-19, 36.8.)
Closing notes from Joe Wolf:
- Stars are going to be stars, that's what this game is all about. You make or break your name in these big games.
- The one thing that L.A. should realize is that they've done a great job of taking Ray Allen out of the game with keeping Derek Fisher on him and only him. Derek Fisher doesn't come off the ball and he doesn't help on anybody. They have to keep running Ray Allen off of screens like they've been doing, but they have to set better screens and get him open.
- (Ray Allen's games, in order, with wins in games two and four: 12 points, 3-8 FG, 0-2 3FG. 32 points, 11-20 FG, 8-11 3FG. 2 points, 0-13 FG, 0-8 3FG. 12 points, 4-11 FG, 0-4 3FG. For the Finals, he's averaging 14.5 points on 34.6 shooting from the field, 18-52, and 32.0 percent from three, 8-25.)
- Paul Pierce has to be put in pick and rolls. They have to put Ron Artest in more pick and rolls because the Lakers had trouble defending that. If Paul Pierce can get to the line early, that puts their bigs in foul trouble because it means that Artest is behind him and the bigs have to switch off. That will be key.
- (Pierce is averaging a team-best 17.0 points in the Finals, but he's had to earn it as he's shooting 41.7 percent from the floor, 20-48 and 33.3 percent from three, 3-9. He leads the club with 29 free throw attempts through four games, connecting on 25. The next-highest is Kendrick Perkins with 15 attempts. By comparison, the Lakers have Pau Gasol with 39 free throw attempts, Kobe Bryant with 29 and Andrew Bynum even has 19.)
- KG has had up and down games. He has to be solid. He has shown in the past that he is a superstar that can play at this level. Has age caught up to him? I think we'll see in the last three games.
- (Garnett is averaging 15.0 points, second on the team, with 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steal in 29.3 minutes. He's shooting 50.0 percent from the field. Oddly enough, his biggest two games, statistically, came in Celtics losses where he averages 20.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. In their wins, he's averaging 9.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists.)