First post of the NBA regular season. Caught the TNT double header last night and of course the best game by far was between the Cavs and the Celtics. It was interesting to note how awkward the Cavaliers looked both offensively and defensively now that they have Shaq. The Celtics on the other hand, looked like they're glad Kevin Garnett is back and looking to win another championship with the big 3, PGA.

I picked this sequence from the last few minutes of the fourth quarter because to me it just crystallized the polar opposites of where both teams were coming from. The Cavs seem to be without a purpose and therefore their execution suffers. By contrast, the Celtics know exactly who they want the ball, and how they're going to score. With the score 87-83, the Cavs could have cut the lead to just 2, but instead it ends up even bigger at 6. Check the video, and commentary afterwards:

Taking Advantage of Numbers

When you have the numbers, you have to take advantage, its as simple as that. If you don't, then you really beat yourself. After the rebounding fracas, Rondo hits the ground hard and is slow to get up. Pierce collides with Williams I think. KG is caught deep in the paint. The Cavs should have been 3-on-2, Lebron with the ball,

But if you notice in the video, there is some confusion and Varajao is only jogging. He should have been filling in on the wide side of the floor as the 3rd player on the break, instead he's not in on the break at all. I'm not sure of the name, but I believe Parker of the Cavs is on the ball side with Lebron, but look at how he's only half way to the corner, making it easier for his defender to step in to help on Lebron,

As the Celtics get back on transition defense, there is a natural moment of confusion as defenders try to find their checks as you can see below. A simple ball reversal by Lebron to Z, would've created a numbers advantage on the weak side. Instead, Lebron holds onto the ball, pulls back, then shoots a semi-contested 3-pointer over Rasheed Wallace which he misses off the front rim,

PNR Against Shaq in Space

By contrast, right after, the Celtics knew exactly what they wanted to run. A high pick and roll bringing Shaq out into open space. Paul Pierce uses the screen by KG, and Shaq's footspeed is nowhere near able to stay with Pierce who drives and shoots a free-throw line jumper to extend the lead to 6,

I know it's only game 1 of the regular season, but if you're a Cleveland Cavs fan, you have to be wondering right now whether bringing Shaq in was really the right move. Shaq brings a lot of advantages especially on defense, but on offense in particular, he is more of a liability than an asset. The Suns found that one out the hard way. The Cavs have a whole season to figure out, lets just hope that it doesn't actually take all season.

For more transition offense drill ideas, check out Jim Barone's new DVD on Communication Drills for the Transition Game. Coach Barone is the head coach at the University of Rhode Island.


  1. beantownhoops  

    October 29, 2009 at 6:13 AM

    Great post and observations. Watched the game myself and was really impressed with the defensive effort by the Celtics in the 2nd half.

  2. Anonymous  

    November 7, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    The Cavs offense is much too predictable and they aren't making the best use out of LBJ. They need a playmaker that can get the most out of LBJ and the rest of the team, just letting LBJ dribble and try to score 90 percent of the time is not going to work.