Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chuck and Kenny Preview the Celtics-Cavs Series

I thought this was a great video to watch for a few reasons: Both Chuck and Kenny both bring up great reasons for their perspective on the series, it's an even argument, and it poses a lot of great questions about both teams coming into the series.

Chuck brings up a great point about the Celtics being able to defend the Cavs. The addition of Antawn Jamison gave Cleveland the one-up for multiple reasons; which is, a lot of their three-point shooters LBJ was kicking the ball out to before weren't and still aren't the best at penetrating the ball. However Jamison can fake a shot and drive by his defender, take a few dribbles in the situation when a help side defender is flying at him to block the shot and either take an elbow jumper or find a backdoor cutter camped on the baseline. He can also give the shot up and take his defender from the three-point line down to the post and throw a couple post moves in his face. This, along, with the tasks of being able to transition from Shaq-basketball and young Cavaliers-basketball and defending LeBron are Barkley's main points as to why Cleveland can trump Boston. His thoughts are, Pierce is going to get into foul trouble trying to guard LeBron single-handedly, hindering his offensive effectiveness (you can't score if you're not on the floor); on the other hand, if Garnett or Ray Allen or even Rondo tries to help out, those three-point specialists like Mo Williams or Anthony Parker, and weapons like Antawn Jamison could really hurt the Celts.

But since we're talking about depth, we come back to the Celtics' view of things. This year, Boston has Marquis Daniels and the best Tony Allen we've seen EVER (especially mentally), whereas the only answers they had aside from Pierce to guarding James in the semis two years ago was James Posey. That's TWO guys they can throw at LeBron not only defensively, but offensively as well. They might not be quite on '08 Posey's level, but in this case the only thing you need is a couple of capable basketball players who have the tools to stay with James while Pierce takes a breather or sits down with fouls. Additionally, shutting down crucial, hand-picked players is what this Celtics defense does best. They did it in '08 with Kobe. And they did it in the first round with Dwyane Wade. And here's why I believe they can do it even with a motivated LeBron James.

Dwyane Wade's mentality, throughout the series, left '08 Kobe's demeanor on an entirely different planet. Kobe is a guy that when you know he wants something, he's going to put everything out on the floor and destiny will take care of the rest. He has that on his side. But in the Finals, despite all the hoopla about Bryant being thirsty for blood and ready to finally win a championship without Shaq... Bryant was missing what he categorized as "bunnies." Two years later, a younger, better (don't get me wrong... I still think a juiced Bryant without the injuries is the second best player in the league, but he didn't seem to me that he was as potent as he could've been emotionally), driven Wade is knocking down deep, ridiculous threes with defenders in his face.

But it was the Boston Celtics' wisdom and acceptance that they couldn't waste their time trying to hold Wade to low-scoring nights and poor shooting percentages and let guys like Michael Beasley, Quentin Richardson, Jermaine O'Neal, and Mario Chalmers do a lot of the lifting. So what they did is what the Celts do best: They adjusted. They let Wade get his and for the majority of the series, but held players like Beasley, O'Neal, and Udonis Haslem to relatively quiet series'. Sure, in the clinching game Mario Chalmers chalked up 20. Dorell Wright chipped in in game 3, and Quentin Richardson had a good game in the one Heat victory. But it wasn't easy for the Miami Heat. Basketball is a game of breaks, and sooner or later, other Heat players were going to start contributing. Shooting streaks happen, and they happened in this series. But the Boston Celtics still won that series, and defensive tactics had a lot to do with it. So will LeBron go off on the Celtics? He might. If he doesn't, will his teammates light up Boston? It could happen. But the Boston Celtics will find a way to adapt to either road the series trails off to and play well.

Kenny also mentions Rasheed Wallace when Charles remarked that the Cavs can now handle defensive monsters and competent offensive players like Kendrick Perkins because of Shaq. Chuck counters with J.J. Hickson, whom he says can chase Rasheed around implies that he'll wear him out. I have different thoughts. We didn't really need Rasheed in the Miami series. We never did. When in that series did we need anybody but an intense Garnett and a rebounding Perkins against a big man crew of Jermaine O'Neal, Jamal Magloire, and Joel Anthony? In this series however, whether its by way of his own alertness or a teammates' mentioning, I believe Rasheed Wallace senses the need for his own effectiveness.

What, in my opinion, put Kenny's argument over the top? He never picked a winner, which was smart. In this series, despite what most think, there is no clear-cut edge. One-on-one, yes. But both teams have the luxury of turning to multiple options if one doesn't go well. Exactly what options will both teams utilize?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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