Thursday, May 5, 2011
Playbook: Late-game offense
By Chris Forsberg
WALTHAM, Mass. -- After the Celtics rallied from a seven-point deficit to tie Tuesday's Game 2 against the Miami Heat with seven minutes remaining, Mario Chalmers buried a 3-pointer to kickstart a big run as the Heat ran away with the win.
The Celtics aided that spurt by missing six straight shots. Which begs the question, was Celtics coach Doc Rivers happy with the offensive looks his team generated as Miami's lead ballooned to 14?
The Celtics went to sixth man Glen Davis on each of the first two plays, but he missed a pair of bunnies before Ray Allen misfired on a 3-pointer, and Jermaine O'Neal botched a dunk. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each missed on long jumpers soon after as well.
"I liked some of the stuff," said Rivers. "I didn’t like the first play. The call was to go somewhere else. Listen, you trust your players, they saw something, they thought Baby was deep. The other one, Paul [Pierce] had an [isolation], but Baby cut, and he threw the ball, he did the right thing. I actually thought that one, there was a lot of contact, and he went across his arms, and there was a no-call, so other than that, I didn’t mind what we did."
Let's take a closer look (with TNT screenshots):
On the first trip down after Chalmers' 3-pointer put Miami out front, 83-80, Ray Allen lobbed the ball to Davis, who had an post-up opportunity on Chris Bosh. That led to a baseline drive, but Davis couldn't convert the layup. At the other end, Dwyane Wade drew a foul and made two free throws for a five-point cushion.
Next time down, Davis made a nice cut off a Garnett screen and got fed by Pierce, but couldn't muscle in a layup against Joel Anthony. At the other end, LeBron James cleaned up a Wade miss with an and-one dunk after an offensive rebound for an eight-point lead.
The Celtics scrambled a bit back in the offensive end, but eventually generated an open 3-point look for Ray Allen (particularly after James fell trying to scramble out to defend), but it was off the mark. At the other end, James drew a foul and buried a pair of freebies to push the lead to double digits.
Finally, with the game slipping away, the Celtics get Pierce going to the bucket and, when the defense collapses on him, he bounces a pass to O'Neal on the baseline, but he can't get up quick enough before Miami recovers. At the other end, James buried a perimeter jumper for a 92-80 lead with 4:39 to go, forcing Rivers to call timeout.
That's four quality looks for Boston, but four missed opportunities. All while Miami's superstar tandem kept putting points on the board and the game out of reach.
Here's the key stat, according to ESPN researchers: Boston is shooting a mere 48.1 percent inside of 5 feet this postseason as opposed to 57.1 percent in the regular season. That's a huge dip, particularly in this series with the Celtics trying to exploit their opponent's frontcourt.