Celtics-Bulls : Late Drama

John HarrisContributor IApril 27, 2009

Last night's game in Chicago was a thriller, although unfortunately for Celtics fans like myself the result went the wrong way. Several points about the end of the game:

[Starting at the 00:57 second mark]

Derek Rose is a very lucky boy that Chicago won this game. In the final Celtics possession of regulation (Ray Allen's 3-pointer to tie the game), Rose badly failed in his responsibility on the play.

Rondo receives the ball and darts towards the right wing as Allen comes towards the top off a Davis screen. Salmons (who was covering Allen) switches off onto Rondo without hesitation, suggesting this was the pre-set defensive instruction on the play.

[Why does Salmons need to switch to Rondo here? Rondo is a shaky 3-point shooter at best and Rose was in good position to cut off the drive to the basket. OK, the Celtics need a 3 to tie it, but surely Allen is more of a priority than Rondo?]

So Salmons switches off and Rose gets totally lost. It looks like he just forgot his defensive assignment as he goes under Davis's screen to follow Rondo, then notices Salmons and turns 180 back under Davis's screen again towards Allen. [I'm pretty sure going under screens on Ray Allen is quite high on the list of ways to lose an NBA game.]

Davis sets an excellent second screen to free Allen, who hits the wide open 3-pointer as Noah and Rose watch from afar. This was a well designed play from Doc Rivers and his coaching staff, and the re-screen from Davis was a nice addition to their usual high screen for Allen.

However if Salmons stays with Allen or Rose doesn't hesitate on the switch the outcome could have been very different.

Ben Gordon's shot at the end of the first ovetime was a different story. Chicago actually used a version of Boston's usual end of game play to free Ray Allen by back screening across the top of the key and using a skip pass.

However, Chicago's version had too many players on the side Gordon wanted to get to, allowing the defense to switch easily (Pierce moves out on Gordon to contest and Allen does a good job of covering Hinrich).

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Gordon hits a very tough fallaway 3-pointer with Pierce contesting, but the shot didn't need to be that hard. Gordon overruns on the play towards Pierce and Allen, instead of hovering at the top of the key, where Rondo (his defender) was being screened out of the play by Noah.

Chicago had no second option on this play (unlike Boston's variant which has House spotting up in the opposite corner to keep the defense honest) and Chicago relied heavily on Gordon to pull one out of the bag at the death. This time it worked out.