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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Work it, flip it, and reverse it: the Celtics vs. Luka Doncic

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In case you’ve been on NBA socials for the reason that Celtics thrashing of the Mavericks in Recreation 1, you know the way Boston attacked Luka Doncic on each side of the ball: change on screens and defend him one-on-one and assault him in isolation on offense.

Statistically, the numbers are staggering. Doncic recorded only one help (an outlet go in transition to PJ Washington and a beneficiant reward from the Backyard scorekeeper) within the Finals opener. For the complete recreation, the Celtics restricted him to simply six potential assists; by comparability, Jaylen Brown (8), Jrue Vacation (9), Al Horford (12), and Jayson Tatum (14) all had extra.

A lot has already been stated concerning the geometry of all of it and the way the Celtics took away the lob passes and nook threes from the Mavericks’ offensive assault. Right here’s a snippet from SB Nation’s Joe Viray:

The Celtics approached the previous by means of two foremost coverages:

1. With Al Horford on the ground, they had been extra eager to change all the things to maintain the Mavericks’ half-court actions flat. This allowed defenders to remain dwelling on their assignments, together with the corners. The belief in Horford and different “lesser” defenders to carry their very own in isolation in opposition to Dončić and Irving was largely justified.

2. With Kristaps Porziņģis on the ground, the Celtics opted to place him in drop protection in pick-and-roll conditions. This stored half-court possessions a two-on-two endeavor and eradicated the necessity for the opposite three defenders to rotate, all whereas trusting Vacation or White to navigate round ball screens. In any other case, they’d change screening actions that didn’t contain Porziņģis (i.e., switching 1-4).

Take a look at the movie breakdown. Joe’s actually good with the main points.

In case you’re inquisitive about how the one-on-one numbers vs. Doncic get away, right here they’re from NBA Stats’ monitoring knowledge:

Luka Doncic vs. the Celtics in Recreation 1

Participant Possessions Factors Assists Turnovers Blocks Area Targets Made Area Targets Tried
Participant Possessions Factors Assists Turnovers Blocks Area Targets Made Area Targets Tried
Al Horford 6.8 2 0 0 1 1 8
Kristaps Porzingis 3.9 13 0 0 0 5 7
Jaylen Brown 33.8 8 0 2 0 4 6
Jayson Tatum 8.9 6 0 0 0 3 4
Jrue Vacation 10.3 2 0 0 0 1 3
Payton Pritchard 2.2 1 0 1 0 0 2
Derrick White 4.4 5 0 1 0 2 2
Sam Hauser 2.2 0 0 1 0 0 1

There are some noticeable knowledge factors:

  • Each time Doncic had both Celtics heart on him, he took benefit. In opposition to his former teammate, Kristaps Porzingis, the MVP runner-up received pictures up, principally of the three-point selection. As Viray notes, with Porzingis within the drop on pick-and-roll actions, Doncic fortunately went to his stepback from behind the arc, hitting 3-of-4. Nevertheless, with Horford taking part in as much as the extent of the screens, Doncic drove a bit of extra, however nonetheless solely made 1-of-8 pictures.
  • After the sport, Luka spoke concerning the Celtics’ protection limiting his playmaking alternatives, saying, “they principally play one-on-one. They don’t ship numerous assist. So, that’s why.” Jaylen Brown took on the majority of these one-on-one duties, masking him practically 50% of the time. Doncic weights in at 6’7, 230-pounds and Brown 6’6, 223-pounds, so it’s a fair matchup when it comes to sheer measurement. Nevertheless, Brown’s velocity and power neutralized Doncic for an evening. Twice, Brown picked his pocket at half court docket and had two emphatic slams on the opposite finish. Luka did make 4-of-6 in opposition to him, however contemplating how a lot time Brown spent on him, Boston will stay with these makes an attempt.

It didn’t finish on protection. On the opposite finish of the court docket, they made him work, too. With Doncic as the first defender, the Celtics had been 9-for-17. Doncic had his moments in what I’d name “lazy rec league protection” — the flop cost on Brown, two attain round strips of Tatum and Porzingis — however in any other case, Boston made him work. Right here’s an incredible minimize from Eric Shapiro:

It’s loss of life by a thousand physique blows. At Saturday’s media availability, Doncic vowed to be extra aggressive, blaming team-wide low vitality for the sluggish begin. When the Pistons’ Ausar Thompson requested about taking part in so freely and having enjoyable, he responded, “I simply attempt to have enjoyable. That’s the sport I really like. That’s the sport that will get me paid. There’s nothing higher on the earth than taking part in basketball to your job. I’m simply making an attempt to get pleasure from it.”

After Recreation 1, it’s exhausting to think about that he’s having fun with the Finals thus far.

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