Before The Tip

by June 08, 2010

by Tzvi Twersky

If your a frequent reader of SLAM Magazine or SLAMonline, you are well aware that Lang is an Atlanta Hawks fan. Likewise, you probably are aware that Russ is a Bulls fan, and Marcel is a Lakers stan. What you may not know–or maybe you do by now–is that I’m the resident Celtics follower.

I say I’m a Boston boy (though I’m from Philly–it’s a long story) as a disclaimer. I am biased towards the Celtics. But I’ll do my best over my week-long stay in Beantown to report fairly.

Ok, so let’s begin by sharing a few thoughts about the first two games played on the Left Coast:

-Five combined threes were hit and only 20 attempted in Game 1. Of the five and 20, only one shot (on 10 attempts) was hit by the Celtics. Game 2, however, was a different ball game (no, literally), as 16 total threes were made on 38 attempts. As you know, eight of those treys were converted by Ray Allen. While hitting on 11 of 16 threes was an unexpected explosion, the Celts do lead all Playoff teams in three-point field-goal percentage (39 percent), so Game 2 is more indicative of how the Celts have shot the rock.

-While the long ball favors Boston, L.A.’s bigs have an advantage inside. That was illustrated by the 42-31 rebounding edge in Game 1. Notice now, that when the Celts miss threes and the Lakers rebound, L.A. wins. It works in reverse, too. When Boston hits from deep (as they did in Game 2) and L.A. doesn’t outboard them (44-39, Boston’s way last game), the Celtics win. So this series boiled down to its simplest: Lakers on the glass vs. Celtics from 23-9 and back.

-Both games were decided by nine points or more. But Game 1 was really not as close as the final tally (102-89), and Game 2 was closer than its final score (103-94). If you watched, you already knew that, but the proof is in the numbers–specifically one and 22. One being the number of lead changes in the first game; 22 being the amount of lead swings in the second game.

-The amount of free throws taken is staggering. Sixty seven in Game 1; 67 in Game 2. In comparison, the first two games of the 2008 Finals saw these two teams combine to shoot 111 freebies.  Not sure what to make of the disparity, but it’s clearly worth noting.

-Ron Artest pulled a Jekyll and Hyde in L.A. In Game 1, Ron-Ron was a key contributor on both ends, validating his signing this past summer. On Sunday, though, Artest appeared to have forgotten his swallow his meds. His stats tell the horrible tale (six points and six fouls), but it was even worse than the numbers. He was solely responsible for one of the worst plays the Finals has ever seen.


-Ray Allen’s playing himself into a nice new contract; Kevin Garnett is playing himself out of the NBA. OK, it’s not that extreme, but hitting eight threes in Game 2 was a great look for Ray Allen. And being MIA in both games, was a terrible look for Kev. Whether he has another big showing or not in the next five games, Allen is $et for free agency.  Boston, or someone else, will pay him. KG is owed almost $19 mil next year and 21 the year after, so he won’t have any monetary problems in his future.

-If someone would have told you last week that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would shoot an combined 4-16, would you have predicted a C’s win? Well, that’s exactly what happened in Game 2.

-Shelden Williams was a terrible Draft pick by the Atlanta Hawks. But for minimum money, he was a solid pickup by Boston. Or so I thought all year. Given a chance to take the court in Game 2, he was by far the worst player out there.

-The Lakers swatted 14 shots on Sunday night, a Finals record. It needs to be taken with a grain of salt, though. By my count, at least five of those swats came on plays where the Celts had grabbed an offensive rebound. Meaning, if the Lakers would have just boxed out, they would have had five less rejections. So yes, the blocks were nice, but if L.A. would have worked the glass better, they would have been unnecessary.

That’s all for now. I hope this post was somewhat enlightening. If not, sue me.

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