About That Lack of Assists
Posted by Zach Lowe on Jan 8, 2010
My friend (and yours) Brian Robb had a nice post yesterday on the lack of ball movement that plagued the C’s offense early in the 2nd half against Miami. The C’s recorded just one assist—one!—over the first 16 minutes of the 2nd half as Miami turned a deficit into a double-digit lead.
Commenters rightly pointed out that official scorers are less generous awarding assists to road teams than to home teams. (See this post on Deadspin for background).
Just for kicks, I decided to re-watch the possessions on which the C’s scored during those 16 minutes to see if the officials scorers indeed gipped them out of any dimes. (Hey, my girlfriend’s away).
Two conclusions from this:
1) The C’s absolutely did not deserve any other assists in this stretch. The scorers did not rob them at all;
2) When they weren’t turning the ball over (which they did an inexcusable 10 times in 16 minutes), the C’s offense was actually functioning pretty well. A lack of assists doesn’t necessarily equate to bad offense, at least in short stretches. (Over the course of a season, it would obviously be a problem).
Let’s look at the positive possessions.
The C’s got points without an assist on 10 possessions over those 16 minutes. Here they are:
(11:33): Perk gets deep position on the right block against O’Neal, takes an entry pass, bounces a couple of dribbles and nails a right jump hook. No assist deserved, but a solid shot.
(8:32): Tony Allen makes 1-of-2 from the foul line. This actually should have netted an assist, if not for TA’s perpetually bad hands. The C’s ran a screen/roll in delayed transition that resulted in Perk receiving the ball on the left side with no one guarding him. Carlos Arroyo jumped off of TA to take Perk, and Perk quickly dished the ball to TA under the rim. Of course, TA fumbled it and failed to even get off what should have been an assisted lay-up. He gathered the ball, dribbled out to the left wing and drove against Arroyo, drawing the foul. No assist, but a solid possession.
(7:09): Rajon Rondo makes two foul shots. Another delayed transition play. Rajon ran the ball up the court, slammed on the breaks about 19 feet from the hoop and noticed Arroyo coming at him to contest the possible shot. He held the ball for an extra split second and jumped into Arroyo, drawing the foul. No assist, but a solid possession.
(6:07): Paul Pierce makes two free throws. The C’s inbound from the sideline to Pierce isolating against Richardson at the left elbow. Q-Rich bites on the Pierce pump fake and fouls him. No assist, but a solid possession.
(5:37): TA makes a driving lay-up. The C’s isolate for TA (guarded by Wade) on the right wing. TA drives right at Wade, forcing him to back-pedal into the paint. TA hits the brakes, pump fakes and gets both Wade and O’Neal in the air, drawing the foul. No assist, but a solid possession.
(3:42): Sheed makes an eight-foot jumper in the post. Sheed makes this look easy, using his height advantage over the 6’8” Haslem to make a simple turnaround from the right side of the paint.
(2:00): Rajon Rondo makes two free throws. The C’s run a 1/3 screen roll at the top of the key, and Pierce picks off Chalmers with a nice screen. Rondo cruises into the paint without any challenge until he arrives the rim, where he draws a foul on Richardson. No assist, but a solid possession.
(10:48): Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis run a screen/roll at the top of the key, with the play designed for Rondo to drive right. Baby’s man (Haslem) slides over to cut off the penetration, but he moves sideways without jumping out to force Rondo back toward half-court. Rajon just drives right around him and hits an easy runner in the lane.
(8:51): Glen Davis makes 1-of-2 foul shots. The C’s isolate for Baby on the right block against the smaller (in, ahem, bulk) Beasley. Baby backs him down and draws a shooting foul on an attempted lefty hook.
(7:20): Paul Pierce makes driving lay-up. I have no clue what happens here, because the Miami TV crew is more interested in something going on off the court than they are in the actual basketball game.
So there you have it. No assists, and none deserved. But that doesn’t mean the C’s were playing selfish or stupid offense, or that the ball wasn’t moving the way it should have. With a couple of exceptions (the Pierce and TA isolations could have ended badly), the C’s properly took advantage of good offensive match-ups.
The turnovers were the killer during this stretch.