“Even back then there was a difference between play-off basketball and regular-season basketball… In the play-offs, the only way to run was to rebound, and the [Capitals] never had a great rebounder.”
That is an excerpt from John Feinstein and Red Auerbach’s book, “Let Me Tell You a Story”, chronicling the primary reason why the Celtics deity, Red Auerbach, failed in his first professional coaching tenure with the Washington Capitals. The Caps were an incredible regular season team, but once the post-season began they were helpless on the boards without any real rebounding presence. Hence why in his early years coaching the Celtics, Auerbach made such a concerted effort to acquire a rebounding stalwart like Bill Russell.
Here’s what Boston has to adjust as we head into Game No. 2:
- For the Celtics, no words could ring truer than Auerbach’s discrepancy between playoff and regular season basketball. The Celtics were mauled on the defensive boards in their game one loss to Chicago, allowing the Bulls to secure 20 offensive rebounds, seven coming from Robin Lopez alone.
- Obviously, this stems from the Celtics’ noticeable lack of size, but their lack of effort down low only made matters worse. The primary focus for Coach Stevens has to be boxing out Chicago’s array of big men and limiting their second chance opportunities.
- The other obvious defensive flaw was the Celtics poor pick ‘n roll rotation. Bobby Portis practically scored all of his 19 points on pick ‘n pop plays, each one made possible by a poor switch from the big man. Naturally, any team that plays the Celtics will look to attack in the pick ‘n roll so they can exploit Isaiah Thomas’ size, so the Celtics opted to double-team the ball handler to force a turnover. Against a team with savvy pick ‘n roll passers like Rajon Rondo though, the big’s would be better off switching onto ball screener right away to contest those spot up shots.
With those two defensive adjustments in mind, the third major concern for the Celtics is there anemic. We’re all well aware of the Celtics lack of dynamic scoring, but they just need to hit more of their open shots. They settled for far too many jumpers, as opposed to attacking the rim, and missed far too many open shots. Once the Celtics sharpen their offense, clean up the defensive boards, and rotate faster in the pick ‘n roll — with the added benefit of the infectious Boston crowd — and they’ll have a legitimate shot at toppling Chicago.
Boston plays host to Chicago tonight at 8 p.m. as it looks to even the series.