Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Microcosm

When I got home today, I listened to The BS Report. I don’t usually listen to Simmons’ adventures in audio, but he has great guests and today it was Bill Walton. I feel like I’ve heard Bill’s story a million times before - the ankle fusion, John Wooden, Larry Bird, lots of adjectives - but today his extensive musings on life and the game had a profound effect on me (to be examined in a future post). And little did I know that several of them would be proven accurate before the end of tonight’s Celtics game…

Lebron James was the most talented player tonight on a floor full of All-Stars. It’s utterly amazing to watch him rise up over defenders and rattle home ridiculous jump shots. He’s not the most efficient player, but then again, neither is his supporting cast from the Island of Misfit Toys. In tonight’s game, those Misfit Cavs actually didn’t look all that bad – Ilgauskas is leaner and quicker, and Drew Gooden shot well from the field for a guy who looks and plays like he just rolled out of bed.

I’ve got to admit – I took a :20 to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on Channel 5, but I was back in time for the all-important stretch run. And it was here, in the game’s most important segment, where Bill Walton was proven right.

For instance, what’s with a “point guard” dribbling to half court and calling a timeout to draw up a “play” that ultimately becomes isolation for the team’s best scorer at the top of the key? It’s a perfect post-Jordan NBA “Glory Hog” possession. That’s what I thought was going to happen for the Cavs with 1:10 left in regulation. Surprisingly, they swung the ball around the arc and found Pavlovic for a tying three.

But leave it to the Celtics to turn around and go for the status quo, burning a full timeout so Pierce can carry three defenders on a wild drive to the basket and huck the ball to nobody, forcing Shuttlesworth to make a wild drive himself, get hacked and brick two free throws.

Then, the Cavs call ANOTHER timeout so Lebron can play with himself at midcourt for 16 seconds, then make a weak move to his right and heave a 20-foot clunker. So we go to overtime and the flow of play is restored for a few precious minutes...

With 1:05 left in OT, the Celtics take another timeout to prepare for an important possession with ANOTHER FREAKIN’ ISOLATION PLAY. The plan was apparently for Pierce to drive wildly again, flail, grimace, fall down, and lose the ball. A sweet Lebron block on Shuttlesworth, a few long bombs, and the Celtics are toast.

Am I the only Celtics fan who gets uncomfortable when Pierce has the ball in an important situation? I know he’s the team leader. But we’ve seen the act before, and it’s about as successful as Charlie Brown trying to direct the Christmas play: Pierce doesn’t have the handle or the quickness to beat the defense off the dribble with the game on the line. A competent guard will stand him up and force him to launch a brick or lose the ball - God forbid he faces a swarm of guys. Please, Paul - take a lesson from Bill Walton's Blazers. Either create or facilitate; quit trying to be so damn great. The Celtics lost their second game and I’m bleary eyed after all the timeouts and dumb offensive sets. Good grief!

4 comments:

Chuck In Manhattan said...

The Walton podcast was a treat. Should be required listening for everyone...especially my dickhole boss.

Tim said...

I hear ya, Fox. I just don't like Pierce in iso determined to shoot. Like you said the other day, it is best when it appears Pierce is going to shoot in a situation like that, and then finds a wide open man. I love when Pierce does that. And not to beat a dead horse, but isn't Glenn somewhat responsible for these end of game plays?

The Fox said...

Yes he is - and in our continuing debate on Doc Rivers, I'll give you the credit for bringing that up.

I gotta say, though, doesn't this end-of-game iso crap happen with every team?

On the local postgame show, I believe Russillo suggested there was some kind of league rule where the superstar had to have the ball at the top of they key at the end of the game, or they get fined - sarcasm yes, but when multiple media outlets address the iso crap issue on the same day, and then it happens to the Celtics, it's a bummer.

derek said...

last year the bad Pierce isolation plays made me feel sorry for him because there really wasn't anyone else. but this year if you've got to score a field goal with seconds winding down on the clock we've got so many other offensive options that there is no excuse for that bullshit.

Also, let us not forget the back-to-back uncharacteristically rushed Rondo blunders in OT where he first pulled up for that DEEP two and that out-of-control drive straight into three white jerseys. I love seeing Rondo take jumpers (don't get me wrong.) but not in clutch OT situations well WELL beyond his range.