Celtics turned less in practice before pre-season games

BOSTON – Joe Mazzola’s Bassem goal Celtics The interim manager was to maintain much of his predecessor’s game plan to keep his players comfortable. This allowed for a manageable and passionate transition from the controversy of recent weeks to basketball.

Ime Udoka’s suspension wasn’t the only difficulty looming during the early part of Boston’s season, as Robert Williams’ third left knee surgery revealed an already weak front court. Danilo Gallinari, a front-court alternative option, injured his ACL over the summer, and Luke Cornett, who trained with the first team this week, injured his ankle. The influx of injuries, in part, inspired the team to sign Blake Griffin after the first week of training, as Mazzulla needed to streamline what had been a complicated but effective switching scheme last year.

“For the past two days, we’ve been in touch,” said Mfiondo Kapengel. CLNS Media / CelticsBlog In a face-to-face interview on Wednesday. “So the seniors were down, maybe some defensive drills that we swapped out just to practice with. When it comes to going live and switching, just when Joe does or when the coaching staff sets up a lineup where the switch lineup is. That’s where they do it. Sort of. So far, we haven’t done much change for myself personally, but it has definitely been practiced.”

This transformation lineup likely revolves around Boston’s greatest variety, Al Horford and Grant Williams. The individuals on the bench are not well suited to playing the more aggressive Ime Udoka scheme. Kornet, who is 7-2, is likely to be an exclusively big guy, while Kabengele, who plays in a two-way deal, may not have enough experience to fully acclimate to that system. He has a chance. Griffin, 33, who is losing his mobility day in and day out, probably doesn’t.

Mazzola stressed that this group will need to find their own identity on the defensive end with Williams III absent, describing it as a great opportunity for others in the room. Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum will play four more players than they played last year. Horford prepared his body over the course of the season to play every day, while the big men focused on defensive coverings and screen preparation.

“To be a better playmaker and also be a better examiner,” Grant said at a media day. “I think some of our biggest problems last year came from not creating the disconnect, not creating that extra opportunity, being a great player, being a great presence.”

His early Celtics teammates admired Kabengele’s energy and physical energy in practice, at 6-10, £250 after the Summer League where he stopped 2.2 shots per game. He’s the nephew of NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, and he brought some shooting prowess to 40% from the depths of Vegas. Defensively, his biggest challenge here became to shoot it and protect the frame constantly, though his pick-and-roll coverage showed promise.

Using Kornet as a starter appears to be a way to keep the big Boston double starter unit and seat intact because he will be working when Williams returns third. Capengel will likely do the same in Cornet’s absence, especially in pre-season, but it will likely force Mazola to drop some of Odoka’s more aggressive defensive principles, at least temporarily.

“The most important thing I noticed was the speed and smoothness,” Kabengele said. “I’m so excited to go down and push the speed, the power up, and I see there’s fluidity with them and how they move, probably because they have such a good sense of attack, but that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken from Grant and Luke. They’re on the alert, especially in cover-ups, through a movement Passing, so the general poise they have on the ground and off the ball is very impressive to me.”

Analytics

Assuming that Mazzulla would shift some of his defensive scheming towards a system that would better fit the big players in his rotation, and ask them to play “up to the touch” or as Kabengele called “in touch”, which could be the “best of the two” situation in the world, it would allow Boston’s defense Keeping pressure on the periphery while removing their big men from situations in which they are forced into the unfavorable switch.

Fortunately, Boston’s big man rotation has some experience working in this type of defensive coverage, having used it occasionally throughout last season’s playoffs, most notably when they’re playing against Golden State Warriors In the The NBA Finals.

When the defense plays “to the touch”, this means that the screen defender (usually a defensive large) plays at or slightly below the level of the screen – so they can touch the barrier if they extend their arms. By operating this type of coverage, the defense itself gives several options for attacking the attack.

With too high a ground, they can jump onto the handle of the ball to quickly corner, hedge, trade, or display – or they can fall in front of the rolling man to pull the entry card into a large, rolling ball. For the defending goalkeeper, his large play at the top of the screen means he can be more aggressive in attacking the ball handler, as he tries to force the dribbling away from the action and/or toward the side line, which can act as an added element. defender.

In the clip above, you can see how a “concrete” defense can force an offense to work hard to get a chance to score. The game begins with Al Horford playing a touch on Otto Porter Jr and Smart guarding Stephen Curry. Horford works to clear the screen as best he can, while staying below Porter Jr.’s level, allowing Smart to force Curry away from the center of the field, knocking the super goalkeeper out of his hand – then negating the pass Curry was looking for to ‘get’ With Draymond Green.

On the weak side, Porter Jr flowed into a skewed screen for Clay Thompson, but Horford remained in a shallow landing (he was under the screen, but still around the elbows) while Robert Williams pinched a strong side elbow.

With Jayson Tatum as the low guy on the weak side, you have the size, height and athletic performance of a turn should a ball player break through the paint, making the scoring opportunity very challenging.

Celtics defense follows Veer screen against Warriors

Celtics defense follows Veer screen against Warriors
Basketball Instat

However, to successfully operate a defensive ‘up to touch’ scheme, you need to have great high intelligence to make decisions about when to dip, cut corners, hedge, switch, etc. – and that’s where guys like Horford and Grant Williams come into play. .

“Al is like him, especially with him, he’s so cool, so calm and so so welcoming. For an established guy, I guess you could say there might be egos, he’s gone to the finals, all-stars, all of that stuff, but the level of humility and poise around him, it was just amazing.” Kapengel said. “I’ll ask him things about covering up, and working on the foot. One thing in particular is that I’ll ask him to put my foot up when I’m in the gap. Should I raise my front foot or my front foot and expose my chest? Kind of tell me the best thing for me is to open your chest up You can kind of see the ball and see the guy and create a little angle on either side, so these tips and tricks definitely help me out.”

Another aspect of “up to touch” gameplay is the ability to play passing lanes and take advantage of the angles the attack gives you. If you watch the clip above, you’ll see that Horford trusts Robert Williams to handle Jonathan Cominga’s roll to the edge, allowing him to focus on clearing the pass available for Jordan Paul. Sure, Horford ends up kicking the ball, but by aiming his body at an angle, turning into space, there is much less open ground for warriors to attack on the strong side.

Fortunately, Kabengele also has some experience playing this kind of coverage, as he showed during his summer league appearances with the Celtics in Las Vegas.

It’s worth noting, however, that Kabengele consistently chose to fall after the screen hit – but he did a great job splitting his leg and standing in front of both the drum and ball mount to protect the edge. Hopefully, by being around Horford and Williams, we will see Kabengele begin to diversify his coverage outside of this scheme throughout the season, especially if it develops his ability to defend smaller players on the periphery.

As a final note: playing “up to touch” does not mean moving away from switch-based defense. You can still switch from 1 to 4 with 5 play up to touch on displays, and adults can still switch after screen if that makes sense at the moment. But, with some of the Celtics’ top 5 currently on the hit report, mixing in seamless coverage makes perfect sense, especially if you’re looking to limit the number of times less experienced centers are put in a position to defend some of the best ballplayers in the world. the scientist.

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