Friday, June 6, 2008

Lakers-Celtics Game 1

Popcorn Machine Recap:

In the middle of the third quarter, Paul Pierce went down with a knee injury. He only ended up missing 1:45 of game time, with Posey coming in to replace him. The Lakers were up 62-58 when it happened. With Pierce being wheeled to the locker room, the Lakers fumbled around and the Celtics scored 7 straight points. Pierce came back into the game and made a couple of dramatic 3-pointers in transition before the Lakers got back into their game. That whole sequence, from the moment Pierce went down, was a killer.

Jordan Farmar only played 7:11, after averaging around 16 minutes a game throughout the playoffs so far. It's not much to go on, but for what it's worth Farmar was -4 in the 3:19 he was matched up against Sam Cassell (who had no trouble posting him up), and +1 matched up against Rondo. Derek Fisher was +3 in just under 10 minutes matched up with Cassell, and -10 in about 31 minutes when matched up against Rondo. There's not a ton to be drawn from this, but it's worth noting that going into the game it seemed as though Rondo might be too quick for Fisher, and Cassell might be too strong for Farmar, and the first game seems to have at least not contradicted that.

I don't really understand why Cassell was playing instead of Eddie House.

Four Factors Notes:

(quick explanation of these numbers: pace is relatively self-explanatory, Efficiency is just pace-adjusted points per game, which is a more accurate way of looking at offense and defense, since it doesn't make slow-paced teams look automatically great on defense, or fast-paced teams on offense. eFG% is just shooting percentages adjusted for the fact that 3 pointers are worth an extra point -- so going 2-6 from beyond the arc is equivalent to going 3-6 from inside the arc. FT/FG is the ratio of free throws made to field goals attempted, times 100 -- it is a measure of how effectively a team attacked and got to the line. OReb% for a given team is the percentage of its own missed shots that the team was able to rebound, while the opponent's OReb% shows how well the team did limiting the opposition's shot opportunities. Turnover rate is the percentage of possessions that ended in a turnover)

Pace - 91 Posessions in this game, which isn't horrible for the Lakers but does seem a little bit better for the Celtics. Then again, it was the Celtics who had more success in transition, so who knows.

Efficiency: LA - 96.7 points per hundred possessions, BOS - 107.7. Watching the game, there were sequences where Boston played great offensively, but clearly the Lakers need to improve offensively more than they do defensively to have a chance.

Shooting: LA - 43.5% (eFG), BOS - 46.1%. The major difference here was Boston was 6-19 on 3-pointers, LA was 3-14. Neither number is all that great, but the Lakers were dismal from beyond the arc. Happily, though, they only took 14 3-pt shots. Other shooting notes -- Kobe Bryant missed a number of mid-range jumpers that he usually makes. Sasha Vujacic only took 7 shots but he missed a couple of wide open 3's. Meanwhile, I had thought that Sasha as pest would do a great job guarding Ray Allen, as he did at times against Korver in the second round, but Allen was getting wide open when Sasha was in the game, with Sasha getting caught behind off-ball screens. Allen ended up shooting 5-13, including 2-6 from 3.

FT/FG: LA - 27.3, BOS - 36.8. My thinking going into this game was that even though Rondo was quicker than Fisher, Fisher would be able to force him towards help and turn Rondo into a passer or jump-shooter. Off the ball, Rondo was repeatedly left wide open on the weak side. However, he was able to turn his dribble-penetration into 10 free throw attempts. Who would have thunk that in a game with Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo would end up with the most free throw attempts?

OReb%: LA - 16.3, BOS - 27.8. Boston has been a great defensive rebounding team all season, while the Lakers have been about average all season, so in sum this is not at all a surprising result. What IS surprising is Ray Allen grabbing 8 rebounds. How did that happen? I didn't pay enough attention, but I guess that's something to keep an eye on for the next game. Boston's not exactly a fast-breaking team, and their bigs are much bigger than the Lakers bigs, so with Gasol and Odom boxed out the Lakers might want to make more of an effort to send their perimeter players in for offensive boards. Allen and Rondo combined for 13 rebounds, which is just one less than Gasol and Odom combined for, and that's no good.

Turnover Rate: LA - 8.8, BOS - 15.4. Well-played for both teams, I have nothing to say.

Other Notes:

P.J. Brown did a surprisingly good job defending Gasol. Still, I liked that Gasol was pretty aggressive for most of the game making moves to the basket. Pierce did a solid job, even post-knee-sprain, in defending Kobe with the ball when he got matched up against him. The Celtics defense as a whole didn't allow the same freedom to the Lakers cutters that they're used to, and cut off a lot of passing lanes. How much of team-defense can be explained by an understanding of Euclidean geometry? That is an important question for later. Meanwhile at the other end, Boston was passing beautifully throughout the game, and always seemed a step ahead of the Lakers defenders who were trying to rotate, getting caught up in screens, and sometimes just not closing out. Every Boston player seemed to know exactly where the open man was at any given time, and it was nice to watch. Now, despite what I saw in terms of passing etc, the numbers say that the Lakers had more assists than the Celtics (21-20), that the Lakers had assists on 65.6% of their made baskets while the Celtics had assists on 62.5% of theirs, so ummmmm, I dunno. It sure looked like the Celtics were passing better than the Lakers though. Hmmph. I will say, that it seemed as though Boston's assists came from motion and ball movement, while the Lakers assists seemed to come from a lot of drive-and-kick (hence Kobe and Fisher with 6 each). And that could be why it looked like the Celtics' passing was better/smoother and that the Celtics D was able to clog up the passing lanes for the Lakers.

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