When the series is completely wrapped up, what are we going to remember about Game 2? There’s no doubt that Ray Allen‘s shot breathed life into Boston. This isn’t the type of team that wanted to go down 0-2 to feel the immense pressure of having to make a Red Sox-esque comeback. But Boston made some other crucial changes throughout this one, which allowed them to dictate things offensively – thereby putting up 115 points tonight as opposed to 103 in OT during Game 1.
First, let’s be clear about this: no matter what anyone says about slight defensive changes they made, Boston will continue to struggle defensively without KG. Paul Pierce said in the post-game that they’re not the type of team who gives up 100 points in back-to-back games. Truth, Doc Rivers, and the rest of Boston can talk about being a better defensive team until they’re blue in the face, but it’s not going to really happen unless Garnett comes back. (Note: Even though KG said that he wanted to get surgery on the knee, no one in Boston has officially given up hope that he’ll return. Doc basically yelled at the media recently for badgering him about Garnett – that text below – but at the same time, he expressly told last year’s Defensive POY to hold off on going under the knife for the time being.)
“Guys, Kevin is not playing in this playoffs,” Rivers said. “I’m not answering Kevin Garnett questions. I didn’t even notice, honestly, until somebody told me, that he wasn’t on the bench and I could care less. You know, he was on the bench in the first half and we were down nine points. So, you know, this is about the players in uniform. Kevin is gone and he ain’t coming back. The guys in uniform have to play.”
So unless Garnett is one of those guys in uniform, the defense isn’t going to change drastically.
However, from Game 1 to Game 2, there was one significant difference in Boston’s attack. Rajon Rondo got in the lane, and Chicago tried to stop him. In game one, Rondo went for 29 points on 12-21 shooting. There’s no doubt that Del Negro told his team that can’t happen again – he wanted his bigs to stop Rondo from doing such damage. And that’s exactly what they did, stepping up to stop him. In fact, he had his shot blocked 5 times on the night. But in giving his team that order, Del Negro also allowed Rajon to be even more efficient when getting into the second layer of the defense. His scoring dropped – 19 points – but his assists shot way up to 16 (from 7 in Game 1). And with his 16 assists, Big Baby and Kendrick Perkins put up 42 points instead of the 32 that they had together in Game 1.
Of course Boston doesn’t come close to winning this game if Ray shot another 1-12 dud. But they also don’t come out on top if Rondo doesn’t take advantage of the change in Chicago’s interior defensive philosophy.