It turns out defence does indeed win championships
June 18th, 2008

In the unlikely event that you hadn’t noticed, defence wins championships.

In the six games of this NBA Finals series, the Celtics ran about two perimeter isolation plays, not including ones at the end of quarters. They didn’t need to run any. The offence took care of itself from running only the simplest stuff. All they had to do was push the ball off of Laker misses and turnovers, occasionally post up Kevin Garnett, have the shooters run to the wings on the break, and keep setting screens. As well as let Ray Allen shoot open threes.

The defence is what won it. L.A.’s offence was contained with relative ease. The only times the Lakers could get the ball in the paint in the last three games were on entry passes to Pau Gasol, and Pau’s options from there were limited to the extra-pass, the re-feed, or staggering to the rim like a drunk teenage girl. They became nothing more than a turnover, a shot-clock waster, and a back-rimmer respectively as Boston routinely denied the Lakers every option possible from their multi-option playbook.

Kobe Bryant could not get to the rim. The best player on the planet at contorting his body and knifing his way through holes that the defence did not know they that had left, suddenly found a defence that hadn’t left any. All but a handful of Bryant’s points came from contested jump shots, a resource which dries up eventually, no matter how good you are at plundering it. Whenever the Lakers attempted to make the skip, extra or entry passes that Boston made so routinely, a turnover ensued, as a Celtic defender always managed to get a hand in the way. Not a single thing came easy. And that’s how it should be. The Lakers defence had no such boast. Instead, they had Vladimir Radmanovic.

Boston wins the NBA title while starting a point guard who passes up lay-ups, a centre whose shooting range is as long as his right forearm, and a primary backup big who can’t get his lay-ups above rim height. Three of their top seven players can be doubled off of. And they won anyway.

This is the mock-up with which to style your team. Get yourselves some athletes, who know the meaning of defensive rotation. Then teach them how to make jump shots like Ray Allen.

Congratulations to the Celtics on the most bipolar 24 months in NBA history. It’s nice to see you finally get rewarded after being such a historically barren franchise. I will now ooze maximum resentment towards a team that I don’t especially like, but one that I respect highly, and whom thoroughly deserve the crown of the best team in the NBA. Contrived celebrations all around.

Posted by at 5:52 AM