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Panic Button?!? (NO!)

March 10, 2009
WAIT! Dont hit hit hit hit that yet.

WAIT! Don't hit hit hit hit that yet.

Is it time to hit that PANIC button? No way. I absolutely refuse to default into Boston-Sports-Mode (BSM) and think that my team’s chances have flushed away. No way.

If anything, the last two games against the Cavs and the Magic have proved that this team is stronger than I thought, deeper than I thought, grittier than I thought, and more determined than I thought. How do you take a game from Cleveland without Kevin Garnett? You make Paul Pierce guard him with the understanding of real consequences: with only 20 games left in the regular season, every win counts from here on out on the road to the #1 seed in the East and locking up home court advantage before the Finals. Doc may say that he doesn’t care about home court advantage, but instead chooses to have his team healthy. This is more applicable to the fact that he won’t rush back guys like KG, Big Baby, or Rondo. But every game that is played, you play to win. So in a sense, you do care about having home court advantage. Would you rather play a game 7 against Orlando/Cleveland in Orlando/Cleveland OR Boston? Exactly. So back to Pierce: you tell Pierce to guard Lebron like the season rides on it. You tell Pierce to shut down Lebron and force him into a pissing contest. What happened to Lebron last Friday against the Celts? A pissing contest of shots: 5/15 from the field and his other numbers: 6 rebs, 5 assists, 4 turnovers. How did he score 21 points? He was 9/12 from the FT line (Mo Williams carried that team going 8-15 FG and, 4/5 from 3pt). I am fine with Lebron scoring 30+ points a game if he does it with that kind of shooting percentage. The more shots he takes and misses, the less Mo Williams gets and the less Mo Williams makes. It’s a simple theory of economics (opportunity cost): every shot that Lebron takes costs everyone else on the Cavs a shot– especially red hot guys like Mo. So Pierce shut Lebron down and forced him to take more shots to try to catch on, which worked out in our favor because The Truth went 11/22 FG, 3/6 from 3pt, 9 assists (holy cow!), 4 rebs, finishing with 29 points. How can Pierce do this? Because as we have learned through his career but more than ever in the last year and a half, this dude comes to play when it matters. When he needs to come through, he usually does. I want the ball in his hands down the line when it matters because he is a proven finisher. 82games.com is running a new set of stats: game winning shots. Pierce ranks high amongst his peers with 11 game winning shots (“defined by a shot taken with 24 seconds or less, then it truly is a ‘last possession’ situation potentially; with a margin from tied to down 2, the team can take the lead with a made basket (including 3’s); by excluding a down 3 situation, we don’t have the “gimme two point buckets” that defenses will sometimes yield to the quick bucket/intentional foul strategy option you often see exercised”). Pierce is tied for 7th for most game winning shots amongst active players, and with a 34% game winning shooting percentage. What’s more? Pierce has 9 game winning assists– as 82 games notes, “Paul Pierce is an exception as he stands at the head of the class for ‘game winning assists’ with nine, ahead of Nash, Kidd, Billups, and the rest” See more here.

What does this tell us? Pierce comes through in the clutch– regular season, playoffs, or championships, he is our closer. He is healthy and playing some of the best ball in his career. As many are noting, he is hitting that perfect stride where his raw physical athletic ability is still very high and matches with his increasing intelligence for how to play the game. Many athletes never reach this moment: when they finally learn what to do in a game, they can’t physically do it anymore. Pierce is doing this now, and it is a joy to watch.

Reasons for why we want to hit the PANIC button. Are you ready for this? Probably want to sit down for this…

  • KG is out for another couple of weeks (they are thinking 3/20 as a possible return date)
  • Big Baby is playing OUT OF HIS FREAKIN MIND, but also hurt his big baby ankle and is out for the foreseeable future
  • Rondo (my boy!) also hurt his ankle– I saw a picture of him wearing like lowish mid-tops– bro, go get some high tops and protect those 3 million dollar ankles
  • TA might be back for the playoffs– I don’t miss his offensive liability, but I do miss his insane defensive bursts
  • Scal is also having his best season and proving his worth in salary… but the dude also can’t sit up without vomiting because of his 982374938749 concussions
  • Mikki Moore’s scouting report said he can take charges, but usually commits 4 fouls before getting that 1 charge; damn scouting report is right
  • Starbury has been slow out of the gates after that honeymoon arrival against the Pacers the other week

Ok. Reasons for why the panic button needs to stay in the corner. Are you ready for this? Jump up and down while reading this…

  • Paul Pierce is averaging 25 points since KG has been out; when he needs to pick up the load, he will
  • Ray Allen is also averaging about 22 points since KG has been out; in the last 2 games about 75% of his points have come in the second half; this guy is a beast… a smoove beast
  • Eddie House is still shooting just over 50% from behind the arc– the most efficient and productive he has shot in his career
  • Leon Powe is emerging has a monster: teams thought all he could do was get fouled and go to the line, and now they are seeing that the small/big man has got some moves and can roll, spin, and muscle his way to easy buckets
  • Perk is also playing out of his mind; Nuggs coach George Karl was quoted as saying he deserves to be on the NBA’s all-defensive team… which won’t happen, but hey, he is playing well defensively and fitting well into his role as the 4th or 5th option on the floor
  • We took a game away from the Cavs– we out hustled them, out muscled them, and plainly out played them
  • We almost took a game away from the Magic (maybe Shaq was right about Van Gundy??)

No need to hit the PANIC button. The PANIC button can be sent to the Cavs or Magic. Remember we still have 2 all-stars in the starting lineup instead of 3… our bench is a little banged up, but other players are picking it up. It is only a matter of time when Starbury gets the little things back (timing, confidence in his jumper) before we can routinely contribute.

More importantly, it is only a matter of time before Big Baby and Rondo come back. And then KG. And then Scal. And then TA.
Teams are officially put on notice: beware, the players that needed more minutes to develop are getting their minutes. When the bigs come back, combined with the role players developing at an alarming rate, you are looking at an even more difficult team to beat.

Dear NBA: get ready to deal with this again in 2 weeks.

Dear NBA: get ready to deal with this again in 2 weeks.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sean permalink
    March 10, 2009 7:47 pm

    The Magic are NOT a viable NBA Finals contender and here is why. They will be playing without J. Nelson. After watching the C’s lose to them on Sunday it was unreal how many bad shots they take and how hesitant they are to go to Dwight Howard down low. There were moments, many moments, when 4 guys were standing outside the 3 point line WHILE THEY WERE UP TEN POINTS!!!! The C’s lost that game because they could not get shots to fall down the stretch, Ray Allen was the only bright spot. That being said, the Magic will not be able to hold leads on the road in the playoffs unless they start taking better shots down the stretch…
    I am not worried about Marbury because his place on this team has been changed twice already due to Rondo going down. Once again, the contendability (made it up!) of this team falls on Rondo more than anyone else.

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