True Hoops

True Hoops

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dear Miami

Let's have a talk.
I'm concerned you for guys heading into your showdown with Boston.

I know it's a big shock to you, as it is to everyone else, that your path would eventually cross that of the Celtics. And I know it's even more shocking that ultimately you'll have to go through them to get to where you want to go in about one month (Los Angeles).

Coming into the playoffs, I though you guys would smoke these old-timers.
However, now I'm not so sure.

Yes, you have the two best players in the world, and a top big man as well.
But take it from a distraught Knicks fan who just watched his team, also with two of the top ten players in the world, get demolished by Boston: talent alone will not hold up against these guys.

And let me say, this is much bigger than Big 3's.
I must warn you:
Rajon Rondo is the Celtics MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER.

Yes, I know. It may be hard for you to believe.
But please heed my admonishment.
It is imperative that you do everything in your power to stop him.
If not, he will end you.
For goodness sake, the fate of 'the decision' depends on it.

Being a concerned citizen, I decided to take action.
I followed Rondo around Madison Square Garden last week and did my best to hang low and take pictures.
I offer them to you now along with my humble advice.

Here are my findings:

Rondo depends on music to get him into rhythm during pre-game shoot around.
So that's his secret!

He's practically like a kid in a skull candy shop.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find out what he was listening to.
But he makes sure it's exactly to his liking.
He'll even stop in the middle of everything to set his playlist.

My advice: get someone to sneak into the locker room before the game and dramatically alter his ipod mix.
I would recommend a combination of death metal, country, and R & B.
This way you cover all your bases.

I also observed his shooting mechanics.
Take a look:

Here is a surprise: he's no Ray Allen.
My guess is that you should probably look to make him shoot.
And by making Rondo shoot, you won't let the actual Ray Allen shoot.

But still, as you can see above, despite not having the smoothest shooting form he can still hit open mid-range jumpers. He even hit a bunch against the Knicks in the last two games of that series.
And he is getting better all the time.
In fact, he is getting daily pointers from Jeff Green:

So, make him become a shooter, but still contest his shots.

Okay, at this point I know what you are thinking.
"Who is Dr. JRS?"
"Why should we listen to him?"

Okay fine, fair point.
But if you don't want to take my word for it, see for yourself what the defensive masterminds of the New York Knicks had written on their chalk board prior to game 3 at the Garden:

You see!
There he is at the TOP of the board!
Stop him in transition, he "has the first 6 seconds."

Rondo is the smallest guy on the floor, but yet, by being one of the fastest and cleverest, he imposes his will on the game and finds a way to dominate.

And to show you how good Rondo is, even after the Knicks executed the game plan to perfection following this scouting report, Rondo still had a triple-double in game 3, including 20 assists!

My advice: you may also want to have a plan for Rondo when not in transition.
Maybe make believe there are 24 seconds in the shot clock.
For this the Knicks decided to literally play off him 5-6 feet, daring him to shoot the ball.
Now, I know I said make Rondo shoot above, but still play some defense on him.
Even though the Knicks are usually successful in their defensive endeavors, don't follow their lead on this one.
Make him work a little bit.

As Kenny Smith has pointed out on many occasions, playing off Rondo actually makes it easier for him to get others involved because the passing lanes then become wide open.
He can then easily survey the floor and pick you apart as he sees fit.
And this is when he is most deadly.

In essence, by playing off Rondo so much teams really are letting Ray Allen shoot.
This is not a good idea.
The Knicks found this out the hard way as Ray Allen had 32 points in game 3.

As ESPN pointed out, Rondo's scoring has been essentially the same in the three wins they have against you versus your one win against them (~ 7 points per game).
BUT, in their three wins against you this year Rondo is averaging 14.3 assists. The one time you beat them he only had 5.
Close off those passing lanes!

LeBron, you should actually know how crucial Rondo is more than others.
Remember that game 6 you played against Boston last year that eneded your season and career in Cleveland?
The one where people accused you of quitting?
Of course I know better than that  - you had a triple-double, including 19 rebounds.
You held Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to 13 and 8 points, respectively.
You even got sufficient help from Mo Williams, who scored 22 points.
But lo and behold, that Rondo guy. He had 21 points and 12 assists in that decisive game.

My advice: LeBron, maybe you can guard Rondo. Kind of like how Scottie Pippen guarded opposing teams points guards while with the Bulls. You have the speed and length to stay in front of him and sufficiently pressure the ball. Let Wade guard Pierce, after all, Wade has the ability to shut down Kobe.
And have Chambers or Bibby, or Miller chase around Allen.

But also remember, these Celtics are wily old veterans.
And they have a great coach who will make adjustments on the fly.
Look at this other brilliant game plan the Knicks had prior to game 3 regarding how to defend screens on the ball:

Almost as if they saw this picture themselves, I can't remember Boston running one on the ball screen the last two games of the series.
Of course you know by now that you should go under the screens set for Rondo, while getting over the screens set for Allen and Pierce - supplemented with aggressive hedges and the possibility of doubling them.

My advice: have a plan for countering screens off the ball.
In particular, how are you going to handle Ray Allen coming off screens?
Remember that game winner he hit in game 1 against the Knicks?
He got open on a flair screen set off the ball.

The Celtics also like to put Allen under the basket and allow him the option of coming off either a Garnett or O'neal screen set on the block.
But be careful, that Rondo guy is smart - if your bigs look to hedge out, double, or help on an Allen curl to the basket, Rondo will find the Boston bigs slipping to the basket for an open lay-up.
As you might have guessed, they were able to get this against the Knicks.

And finally.
For some bonus advice.
Don't get Glen 'big baby' Davis mad.

In game 3 he had 4 points and 4 rebounds.
Then this happened:
The media totally disregarded Davis and took over his locker to interview Garnett after the game. Look and listen to them laughing at him

Poor baby.

Look how he was humiliated into asking for reporters to hand him his suit and underwear.
Then listen how he politely asks for his shoes and socks.
"Thanks guys."

The result?
In game 4, the series clincher, big baby had 14 points to go along with 5 rebounds.
Many of those points were back breaking jumpers towards the end of the shot clock when the Knicks needed stops.

My advice: don't let reporters in Miami anywhere near big baby's locker - even if it means they don't interview Garnett.

So, off you guys go.
I hope my services help you out.
Stay strong and stay true.
And most importantly, ask yourself, where do you want to be in June?
South beach or Venice beach?

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