NBA Playoffs: Still hope for Dudley

Bulls are leading Celtics 2-0 after two road wins in Boston. Bulls are in a dominating position to oust a #1 seed in the first round, but a breaking news of Rajan Rondo out indefinitely gives Celtics renewed hope to get back in the series and win it,

With Rondo out the Celtics should win the series with the Bulls. Then, at some point, they will meet the Cavs and get dusted. Then the Cavs will meet the Warriors and get dusted. The NBA players have started choosing teams like we did in grade school, and I think it has hurt the game. That and the fact you can palm the ball and walk 4-5 steps after a dribble has made it a different game…one I seldom watch anymore.

The most irritating rule is a team can make a basket and the other team getting the ball can call time out. The inbounds is then not under the opponents basket, but on the other end of the court. That is not basketball.

I’m happy with the way the Celtics have responded and know a big factor is Rondo being out.

But I don’t feel bad about that because of the obvious situation surrounding Isaiah Thomas and how it rocked Boston.

Best 2 of 3 now. Obviously Game 5 on Wednesday is big.

By the way, the Toronto-Milwaukee winner plays Cleveland next.

The Boston-Chicago winner gets the Washington-Atlanta winner.

I expect Golden State vs. Cleveland in the finals this season again, but with a different outcome.

Interestingly, Chicago is the only team with an edge against Cleveland in the regular season - likely because of its vets.

Atlanta was 3-1 against Cleveland with 2 wins in Cleveland.

Good luck with Washington.

I don’t know what to think about a Celts-Wizards series. All the Eastern teams look terribly flawed, including Cleveland. If Atlanta could have gotten average play out of the wing or limited turnovers in four games, they could have handled Washington with room to spare. They were a bad matchup for Atlanta, which has been a rotten ballhandling team all year. Washington goes for steals, and Wall converts turnovers into points. ATL’s shooting guards were under 30% from the arc. That was a killer.

Washington had no answer for Schroeder or Millsap, both of whom played brilliantly for the entire series. Unfortunately they got help in only a couple of games. I assume Thomas will be a problem for Washington as well, but Boston doesn’t have a scorer on the baseline as good as Millsap. Boston, however, handles better than Atlanta. That should help their D by keeping Wall out of transition. Washington has no bench. I expect Smart to have a big series coming off the bench. Boston needs to dominate their reserves to win.

At the other end I assume Stevens will come up with a better plan for defending the PNR than ATL did. We basically allowed Gortat to set a screen and give Wall or Beal a practice jumper any time they wanted. Budenholzer didn’t adjust when Wall kept making jump shots. They are tough to defend when he shoots well. Gortat, Morris, and Porter were nonfactors against ATL. They will have to play much better for Washington to have any chance of coming out of the East. Horford has had trouble in the past keeping big centers off the glass in the playoffs. Boston needs him to win the matchup with Gortat decisively. They have nothing in the middle behind Gortat, though.

My guess is that Washington’s starters will outplay Boston’s. Thomas can’t guard Wall, and if Boston had trouble with Rondo’s speed… The series will probably turn on whether the Washington second unit can hold the lead. The x-factor may be Otto Porter. If he’s scoring a lot, Boston is probably in trouble. If Washington is a two-man team and Boston limits TOs, Boston could be in good shape.

To be honest, I don’t think either team can beat Cleveland, and Cleveland is terrible on defense. The WC Finals is probably the championship.

I imagine Thomas will spend some time guarding Otto Porter. Heard that a few weeks ago on a podcast and it makes sense to at least try to hide him there. Would be an interesting cross-match. He can’t guard Wall.

Wow. Porter is 6-8. I know he spends most of his time on the perimeter in this lineup, but he isn’t a complete stiff. Seems like Washington could go small, space the floor, and let Porter post Thomas all day.

If I were Stevens, I would be tempted to adjust substitution patterns to get Thomas on the court against the Washington second unit. They have no rim protection, and Stevens would have better options for hiding Thomas with one of Beal or Wall on the bench. I thought ATL wasted an opportunity by having a bunch of perimeter players on the floor against Washington’s second unit. Washington’s weakness is inside, 25th in opponent 2-point%. Boston being so three-centric is not a bad matchup for them.

Glad I’m not a gambler. I don’t trust either team. Boston has average offensive talent after Thomas. Washington can be very good if Wall and the supporting cast are making perimeter shots. However, they can go ice cold for long stretches, and the second unit is dreadful at both ends. ATL had to have wings go brick for brick with them to lose the series.

Yeah, the Wizards’ bench is terrible. I do like Oubre, long-term. He’s played really good defense late in the year.

As far as Isaiah, like you said, Porter is basically a spot-up shooter. He never posts up. Obviously he’d have about a foot on Isaiah, but I could see Boston shading and/or sending a double at him and forcing turnovers just because he’s not accustomed to posting up. He might score a few, but he’d just as likely turn it over some and it’d take Washington out of their offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them try it a few times. One thing Porter can do is either shoot over him or be aggressive on the catch and use his length to get to the rim.

That’s the interesting thing about this series, to me, is there’s no hiding spot for Isaiah.

I don’t trust either team, either. I don’t think the winner will be able to hang with Cleveland, but this should be a fun series.

As I suspected, IT wound up guarding Porter (Oubre, too) a decent amount. Washington opted to keep running its offense instead of trying to iso Otto on the block. Will be interesting to see what, if any, adjustments get made.

Wild game, with Washington jumping out to the 16-0 lead. Those quick, big leads can be fool’s gold in the NBA, but Morris going down had a big effect. Not a gigantic Horford fan, but he was great and obviously they were on fire from 3.

Assuming Morris is back and healthy, I think this goes 6 games, minimum.

I loved today’s game, especially the way we played after falling down 16-0.

Isaiah is just sensational.

Today’s other key to me today was how well Al Horford played - coming just one rebound away from a triple-double

Isaiah has been consistently sensational. But Boston has lost consistently with Thomas being sensational and no one else stepping up. You are right that Horford stepped up big time. But the real key to me was the threes that Boston connected on. It was raining threes.

Neither team defended well. Boston shot 50% from the arc, but Washington was still in the game midway through the fourth quarter. The injury of Morris may decide the series, not because he is all that great but because there is nobody on the court that Smith or Bogdanovic can guard. Going small with Oubre takes away one of the advantages that Washington has in the series.

I agreed with Van Gundy. I think it’s crazy to let Boston get away with Thomas on Porter. The whole rationale for Porter to stand at the three-point line is to space the forwards so that Wall and Beal can drive. If all you are doing is letting the shortest player and chief scorer for the opponent rest on defense, you’re an idiot.

I was grinding my teeth seeing how much better Boston handled and played the PNR against Washington than ATL did. I’ll never understand why Bud decided that giving the two best offensive players on the other team practice jump shots any time they wanted was a winning strategy. Stevens apparently agreed. The Celtic bigs were up to challenge Wall and Beal.

Thomas on Porter is being talked about all over the sports talk shows. So, It is very likely Washington has a different strategy in the next game.

Yeah, thanks to Thibs most NBA teams prefer to drop the big and cede the mid-range jumper, since that’s analytically the lowest-percentage shot. I read an interesting story about the Pistons earlier this year that had a segment about Reggie Jackson in the pick-and-roll, his bread and butter. Most teams will drop the big way back against him because he’s not a good shooter, but he actually said he preferred it and it’s gotten to the point where guards view the dropped bigs like a cone in a drill. Unless you’re a really good rim protector, it’s tough to handle a good guard with a full head of steam. I thought that was interesting.

I thought Boston made a concerted effort to keep Horford up a little higher so he could at least challenge shots. And he’s quick and long enough to be able to do that and still be able to at least decently contest at the rim.

The Jazz are usually a drop team but CP3 is maybe the best mid-range shooting PG in the league, so they started bringing up their bigs to the level of the screen to soft hedge and even showed a few times. It was an interesting adjustment.

I wondered if Atlanta would do the same, but I guess Bud was worried about Wall blowing past the big and having a free run to the rim. But he’s so good he can pretty much get there any time he wants anyway.

Hard to play defense.

Yeah, it was a smart move by Stevens to basically allow IT to rest on defense. Will be interesting to see how Washington adjusts. Looked it up and Porter shot 70 percent on 1.8 post touches per game during the regular season, so maybe they try to post him. And if so, does Boston take IT off him immediately or try to send a double/shade a defender and force Porter to make plays out of the post?

Cat-and-mouse games like this are what makes the playoffs great.

From the Boston Globe:

"The Wizards waited until Game 3 to do what they should have done in their two losses in Boston — they made 5-foot-9-inch Isaiah Thomas defend in the post against 6-7 Otto Porter. It was a coherent theme Thursday at Verizon Center; the Wizards were primed on paying Thomas extra attention after his 53-point outburst in Game 2.

Porter, a master of the midrange shot, scored on Thomas at will, especially during Washington’s pivotal 22-0 first-quarter run. "

Washington could’ve easily been playing for the sweep tonight. They’ve really been the better team in like 14 of the 16 quarters so far.

Hopefully we get at least 2 close games the rest of the series.

Today they did a really nice job of making a concerted effort to go at Thomas regardless of who he was guarding. I think Washington is the better team, but if Boston does wind up winning, you can bet that Cleveland is going to have Thomas’ man be the screener for LeBron constantly, just like they did with Steph last year.

What a performance without Kawhi and Parker by San Antonio. They do this all the time in the regular season, but to do it in a heated second-round series is a whole other thing. I definitely thought Houston would win the series. Obviously that didn’t work out.

Wonder if they can push Golden State at all. I kind of lean no, just because I don’t think they have enough firepower to hang with GS. But it is SA so who knows.

San Antonio scouting department is terrific. Looks like they found another late 1st round steal in Dejounte Murray.