The Boston Celtics had a more than deplorable outing in Madison Square Garden last night. They allowed Carmelo Anthony to put up his second career triple double against them with 35 points, 10 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Knicks to hung up 118 points on them–defensively, that is an epic fail on Boston’s part. It was clear that their defensive approach to this game wasn’t going to work because the Knicks had 72 points in the first half of play.
The Knicks hit an astounding 19 of their 32 three point attempts on the night, and Carmelo was the match that sparked that flame. Steve Novak was eight of 10 from beyond the arc and J.R Smith was seven of 10 from the same area. In fact, the combination of Smith, Tyson Chandler, and Novak added 70 points to New York’s effort last night. The Knicks bench scored 55 points as opposed to the Celtics bench only being able to contribute two points to their effort.
Obviously, the Knicks aren’t going to get this hot every night. However, in reviewing the game, the Knicks had some great looks at the basket and capitalized off of those looks. Carmelo’s 10 assists were more deadly than his 35 points and that’s because of the way that the Celtics overloaded the defense to Carmelo. His assists ended up adding up to 27 points on the night, seven of which were three point shots. They were intent on keeping the ball out of his hands and in the end they should’ve capitalized off of all of his ISO situations by letting him go one on one and having help waiting at the rim.
Anthony drew constant attention from Boston’s help defenders by beating his initial defender. Instead of being disciplined enough to stay home on the shooters, Boston’s perimeter help collapsed on Melo allowing him to rack up his assists. You can see that in the example below.
Melo had beaten the initial defender in this screen capture photo. He managed to get into the paint and draw all five Boston defenders to him. Carmelo then threads the needle to J.R Smith for a wide open three in which he was able to even set up for. There was no contest. Here is the play in real time.
Overloading a defense on one key player poses a huge threat to the honesty of your defense. Players will automatically think “help” when seeing a player going to the rim. Melo saw this change in the defense and took full advantage of it. Take a look at the picture below. After receiving a screen, Mike Bibby tries to feed the ball to Carmelo Anthony. The ball is initially tipped by Carmelo gets it anyway. Once receiving the ball, three defenders have committed to Anthony; their backs are turned to Bibby and that’s what hurt them.
Here is the play in real time.
Here’s our last play for the day. The aforementioned Steve Novak went eight for 10 from three and Carmelo was a large reason why because of plays like this. Below, you can see that Melo has five defenders commited to him after receiving a tipped pass off of another Pick and Pop situation . Melo see’s this, and has the awareness to weigh his options. In this play, he has three definite options and a possible fourth. He can deliver the ball to Novak, Bibby, or J.R Smith. The fourth, and more difficult, option would be to deliver a pass to Chandler in the paint. Melo takes the easiest option in Steve Novak and Novak makes Boston pay.
Here is the play in real time.
Overloading too many defenders to a player is a very dangerous strategy for any defense to employ. Of course, again, New York likely won’t hit 19 three pointers in a game on a consistent basis. Its not every day that you survive a 43 point game from Paul Pierce, but the Celtics dug themselves into a whole that was simply too hard to get out of.
We’ll likely see adjustments down the stretch with the Celtics defenders. Normally, they do play help defense in a similar fashion, but they think more before they do it. If Boston has to key on a certain player once again, don’t expect this same effort out of them.