As an example, coming out of Game 1, the Celtics learned that they needed to do something to free up Rondo if Kobe is guarding him, as their stock offense just didn't put Rondo in much of a position to succeed. They put in a play I don't think I've ever seen them run since Doc has been here with a sandwich screen on Kobe that I honestly believe is a major contributor to Ray's big night. Rondo was finally able to get open enough to make the defense collapse, which helps Ray quite a bit.
The Celtics now have to wait and see how the Lakers adjust to this offensively, although I think Rondo's 2nd half can also be partially attributed to the Lakers making a point of staying on Ray, who had a pretty quiet 2nd, at the expense of letting Rondo get in the paint. I'd expect the Lakers to just go back to what worked in Game 1, at least initially, and see if Ray goes off on them again. They'll probably tell Kobe to make sure he doesn't get above the 3 pt line on Rondo defensively, so that sandwich screen creates less space and makes Rondo cover the gap as opposed to vice versa.
Other things that we may be looking to make adjustments to account for offensively:
- Pierce hasn't gotten free. Some of this may be a byproduct of the Rondo/Ray thing playing out. We're stuck proving to them that Ray can beat Fisher, which is going to run more of our offense through Ray than usual. Paul is getting fewer touches and hasn't really been able to make the most of them thus far. Most of our plays for Paul are isolations or pick and rolls at the top of the key, which strangely haven't seemed to free him up. The saving grace here may be that Artest is playing so poorly offensively that the Lakers may have to sub him out if they get down.
- We probably need to do something about the blocks. Either our bigs have to find a way to flash to space and then quickly finish (Perkins can't do this) or we need to bring our big men out to set more screens and open up the paint. There's a lot of traffic in the key right now and if we're going to let Rondo run free, he needs a little bit of space to finish. Now that we're at home, there may be a simple adjustment here of just ensuring that you go up strong and draw the contact, as opposed to trying to finesse the ball in.
Defensively, we're getting killed by Bynum and Gasol and the high low play. LA is basically getting the ball to Kobe on the wing, we're trying to force him left, and he has an option to drive/shoot or feed a flashing Gasol at the FT line, which starts the triangle cuts that have been mostly harmless, except for the dumps down to Bynum in the low post which have largely accounted for his production. It also gives them two bigs very close to the basket and at different depths when the shot goes up, which is leading to all the tips and scrums their size seems to be winning for them left and right. I can't think of much we can do to get them to not run their offense, but I suppose we can try to overplay the pass to Gasol at the FT line and hope the refs give us the freedom to try to move Bynum down low. This may be more a case of good old fashioned boxing out and physical play.
It'll be interesting to see if the Lakers do something about us trying to drive Kobe left. In a lot of ways these first two games are tough to take as gospel to make adjustments because the foul trouble really changed each team's offensive identity and options. I'm not sure if we really contained Kobe last game or he was simply in so much foul trouble that he couldn't get in rhythm.