Why the Boston Celtics Need a New End-Game Strategy

Craig JolicoeurCorrespondent IMay 5, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 04:  Head coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics reacts to a foul called against his team in the second half against the Orlando Magic in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 4, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Magic defeated the Celtics 95-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

After watching the near-comeback in last nights Game One matchup against the Orlando Magic, I really think the Boston Celtics need to rethink their "end-of-game" fouling strategy.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, I have watched and cheered for the Celtics for my entire 30 years on this earth and have sat and squirmed during the final three minutes of a Celtics game all too often.

Against a team like Orlando, with a center who shot just under 60 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season, the Celtics need to take a different approach to fouling down the stretch.

In my opinion, it's ridiculous for the Cs not to employ the same type of "fouling system" that the San Antonio Spurs use against the Phoenix Suns and Shaquille O'Neal.  The Spurs will foul Shaq as soon as he crosses half-court and put him on the line as they have determined that is a smarter, more cost-effective way to get the ball back and conserve time.

In a game like last night's Game One, the Celtic's had made a valiant effort to cut the gap to four points late in the fourth quarter, and needed all the remaining time they could get.

Their best choice would have been to immediately foul Dwight Howard each and every Magic possession and take their chances with him at the line.  Doing so would have accomplished two significant things.

First, the Cs would have stopped the clock a lot earlier and given themselves a lot more time on offense to get those much needed points.

Second, given Howard's poor free-throw percentage, there is a very good chance the big man would miss at least one, if not both, free throws, leaving the Celtic's barely worse for wear on the scoreboard.

I would much rather see the Magic pick up a single point, then running 20 seconds off the clock and getting two or three points.

Also, with Howard at the stripe, there is little chance the Magic would grab the offensive rebound off of a missed FT.

I know the NBA probably hates to see this tactic employed, and fans probably don't like to see that "boring" style of tactical possession basketball, but in the playoffs, all bets are off.  

All that matters to me, and the rest of the season ticket holders in Boston, is that the Celtics win and keep advancing.