Some good news and some bad news

I have good news and bad news. What do you want to hear first?

I assume you brought ‘bad news’ with you.

The bad news is that the Celtics beat themselves on Friday night.

The C’s had been playing with fire all night. They committed a lot of unforced errors and got away with them in the first 42 minutes of the game. Even though the turnover stats stand out, the Cs also showed stretches with terrifying shot selection, so much so that the focus will of course be on the horrific shots made towards the end of the game, the Cs didn’t really get away from a winning game plan, as soon as the game got tight: they had played fast and loose with a proven formula for most of the game.

I don’t know to what extent they felt the pressure of the moment – ​​we’re talking about a team with no finals experience here – and how much they were lured into bad games by a noisy Garden crowd. There were several moments when the C’s were able to extend their lead only to deviate from tried and tested sets and shots, seemingly in an effort to body punch the Warriors.

The problem with this, of course, is that no amount of crowd noise is going to turn a bad shot into a good one, and the Warriors have been here far too often to be intimidated by noise.

So what’s the good news?

The good news is that Boston made it clear on Friday during their mental struggles that the Warriors can’t beat them.

Boston is just too deep, too physical and too big for the Warriors. And if they have their wits, they’re too smart for the warriors, too.

Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

While Steph Curry put up smashing stats in Game 4, the C’s defense on the whole wasn’t terrible. ESPN’s announcers constantly emphasize how Boston’s Bigs are defending Curry, but there seems to be a deeper strategy at work here. Anyone can see what the C’s Bigs Curry allow, but it takes a little more digging to see what the Bostons Bigs Curry prohibits.

Udoka seems content to give Curry his shots to keep the rest of the Warriors’ offense detached and static. Williams and Horford’s drop coverage serves two purposes: it disrupts Curry’s ability to drive and his ability to overtake.

It might seem counterproductive to stop Curry from passing to another player who isn’t nearly as good at shooting, but by forcing Curry to take shots they make him a one-dimensional player.

Keeping Curry isolated with the ball also keeps him from moving off the ball, which can lead to rotation issues or the complete collapse of a good defensive set. Klay Thompson has gotten better at off-ball movement, but the rest of Golden State’s shooters appear to be of the catch-and-shoot variety, meaning they have limited value unless the primary ball handler is moving freely can.

Blocking Curry’s lanes has the same benefit as preventing Curry from moving without the ball. When Curry moves, defense has to react, and while Boston’s defense has mostly been very good at turning cover when Curry moves, moves tend to favor offense while static sets favor defense.

Drop coverage also keeps the C’s bigs out of foul trouble, and that works in two ways too: Curry is adept at drawing fouls on drives and he’s adept at drawing fouls on three-pointers. The C’s bigs have largely stayed out of foul trouble because they didn’t commit fouls on the perimeter and generally avoided fouling curry on drives. Granted Horford is an accomplished vet who has a better chance of avoiding foul calls on contested drives and threes, but most of the time Curry will have the benefit of the doubt even against Al. For Williams, who still tends to react aggressively to pumpfakes, the danger of racking up fouls by defending Curry too enthusiastically is even greater.

When the C’s guards stay with Curry, they send him to work. Both Derrick White and Marcus Smart are brilliant defenders who have learned to stay on this side of the law and it has paid off with Curry – last night notwithstanding – losing his legs somewhat by the end of the game. In fact, Kerr Curry sat out part of the 3rd quarter, which he didn’t do in the first three games, and perhaps not coincidentally, the Warriors’ lead in the third quarter was significantly smaller than in the first three games. In order to “win” fourth, Kerr had to take Curry for part of third place.

And that’s ultimately what favors the Celtics. The Celtics are forcing the Warriors to change all aspects of their game. Kerr benched Draymond for a significant portion of the fourth quarter, and while the Talking Heads made a big deal out of it, it was an obviously easy decision. Draymond was one of the Celtics’ greatest assets when he was on the pitch. He’s a player who’s grown accustomed to being physically dominant at both ends of the court, and the Cs combined are just too big and powerful for him to shove around.

The Warriors are no longer a young team. They’re also not a particularly deep team. They’ve never been a big team and the Celtics have all these things that speak for them.

The downside, however, is that the Warriors are an experienced team at this stage.

The C’s hit the laceration tighter than an eight-day clock and lost their composure as the game got tight in the final minutes.

Steve Bulpett of the Herald referred to Rudyard Kipling’s “If”. more as one opportunityand while Kipling definitely wrote some poetry that did Not has stood the test of time, “If” is not one of them. For the Celtics, the relevant bits are below:

If you can keep your head when everything is around you
Losing theirs and blaming you

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds of distance running,
Yours is the earth and everything on it
And – more – you will be a man, my son!

The thing at the end of Friday night’s game is that the Celtics had everything they needed to win that game right on the court. We know they’re capable of finishing games, even games against the Warriors.

The only problem is that we all knew they could win by playing the game their way, but they forgot.

Let’s hope it was just a temporary hiccup en route to Banner 18 — or a calculated strategy to ensure the C’s win the series in the garden.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.