What a thrilling game from start to finish between the Celtics and the Bulls, at least from a fan standpoint, end to end action, last second shots, and overtime. From a coaching standpoint, we see a lot of mistakes, taking ill-advised shots, poor defensive execution, bad fouls, and lack of ball movement to name just a few. However, both point guards played great, Rondo carried the Celtics and D. Rose simply couldn't be stopped.

What I wanted to talk about chiefly was how the Celtics good offense through Rajon Rondo paradoxically led to poor transition defense. Viewed in this way, the Celtics best offensive option with Rondo penetrating was their own worst enemy on defense. Because Rose could take advantage of not having anyone in front of him in the open court that is quick enough to slow him down. I counted at least 5 or 6 situations where Rondo scored off the dribble, only to watch Rose go the other way for an early offense layup, or pass to an open corner 3-pointer, or fouled. Pay attention to 20 seconds into this highlight recap of the game,

The Celtics use a high screen and roll in order to get Rondo an open lane towards the basket. He uses his quickness to get by the defenders and gets all the way to the rim,

Right after Rondo scores, note how deep he is, basically into the scrum of camera guys and the back row. Notice where Derrick Rose is, ready to receive the inbounds pass. Rose already has a 2 second head start,

Obviously Rondo doesn't have a chance to catch up with a speeding Rose in the open court. You can see him trying to tell his teammates to pick up. Eddie House actually does try to pick up, but Rose is too quick and goes for the open layup,


So, how do you solve this paradox? If Rondo doesn't penetrate, the Celtics almost certainly would've lost this game by double-digits. If Rondo does penetrate, Rose will just run it back the other way for 2 as the Celtics do not have anyone other than Rondo that can match Rose's speed on defense. It's an interesting puzzle to be sure and I'm not sure how they solve it. Certainly if Ray Allen improves that would help tremendously, as I'm not convinced Paul Pierce ISO plays are much better at this point.

For more on transition defense, take a look at Chris Lowery's DVD on Transition Defense into Halfcourt M2M. Coach Lowery is the brains behind the Southern Illinois tenacious defense. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.