Over the next few weeks, Jordan Kahn will be providing video breakdowns of key sets and plays from many of the playoff games. Check out previous entires here. Find more from Jordan at Basketball Things and follow him on Twitter @AyoitsJordan.
In Game Two, Philadelphia was able to hold off Boston’s fourth quarter rally in part because of their ability to stop Boston’s main options. Let’s take a look at how the Sixers adjusted their defense against the Celtics in the fourth quarter.
Defending Kevin Garnett
Perhaps due to Paul Pierce’s injury, the Celtics went to Kevin Garnett in the post throughout the fourth. At first, the Sixers were sending double teams at Garnett as he made his post move. However, Garnett was able to find the open man, and the Sixers’ defensive rotations couldn’t recover. Video of the Celtics attacking the double teams is below. In the first clip, the Sixers do a solid job of recovering, except Thaddeus Young takes his sweet time in closing out on Mickael Pietrus. In the second clip, the entire defense looks lost; either Evan Turner wasn’t supposed to leave Avery Bradley, or someone else should have rotated to Bradley.
After these two baskets, Philadelphia stopped double-teaming Garnett and made him a one-on-one scorer. While being matched up with Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and Lavoy Allen, Garnett only scored once on his next five post-ups. Video of the strong Sixers post defense is below. Garnett’s lone score came when he hustled down the court and established great post position before the defense was set.
Defending Ray Allen
As the game was winding down, the Celtics went away from Garnett and worked to free up Ray Allen for some quick points. On the play below, it looks as if Boston is simply spreading the floor to create space for a Rondo-Pierce pick-and-roll. Instead, Garnett sets a quick screen on an unsuspecting Jrue Holiday, as Rondo hits Allen with the pass. Video of the play is below.
After Holiday got burned on that three-pointer, he wouldn’t lose sight of Allen again. On the next two Boston possessions, they tried to get Allen clean looks by running him off screens. Holiday did an excellent job of shooting the gaps instead of following Allen around the screens. Instead of continuing on his normal path, Allen would usually fade away from a defender that shot the gap, but he couldn’t on these plays because of the location of the screen and bad passing angle for Rondo. Video of Holiday’s great defensive effort is below.
Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated has been repeatedly pointing out all of the blatant shoving of screeners that was going unnoticed by the referees, and this time, Kevin Garnett got caught in the act. As surprising as it was to see Garnett (finally) get called for an illegal screen in the waning seconds of the game, it was just as surprising to see him get whistled for this shove.
The Sixers tied up the series by stopping Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen from doing what they do best. In Game Three, the Celtics might look to put Garnett into more pick-and-pops instead of simply posting him up.