Making “P.A.R.,” A Special 2011-12 NBA Playoff Edition, Issue #2
By Joseph Kolodziej
In this second special edition of “Making P.A.R.,” we’ll review the four teams remaining in the playoffs and see who their key three contributors are and what their X-factors and key matchups are. It’s more than young versus old, offense versus defense this year. Really, the argument can be made that it might be about assertiveness and who wants it more. Without further delay, let’s take a look at this year’s championship suitors.
X-Factors: The biggest x-factors are the ongoing play of Shane Battier and the absence of Chris Bosh. If Shane Battier plays like he did in game one versus the Celtics, Boston will have some extra trouble, but game two will reveal a lot, seeing what adjustments Boston makes. The other x-factor being Bosh on the sidelines which in some ways has been good to Miami, freeing up their offensive tempo. The key for Boston against them will be making that absence being a void of detriment, rather than an advantage for the Heat.
Key Matchup: Rondo versus Wade. If Avery Bradley were still in the lineup for Boston, Wade would have more warts to contend with but fortunately for Wade, Bradley’s done for the season which makes it a lot easier for him due to his size in the post versus Rondo. We’ll see what kind of adjustments River’s makes as I don’t believe he’ll allow most of what went wrong for Boston in game one to go wrong again in game two.
X-Factors: The biggest one that stands out glaringly is Ray Allen, after that Pierce. Since Bradley went down, nothing is going to come as easy for this team, had he stayed healthy—but work has to be done. Ray has to get open for three’s and somehow get better movement off that swollen ankle; he simply has to be hitting perimeter shots for the Celtics to be formidable; the only other option, although riskier—but at this point, possibly necessary, is starting Dooling over him and try to screen him for three’s. Maybe go big inside and see what Daniels’ gives you too and mix-and-match there. Pierce will have to step up in kind most games and play through the knee problems if they are going to upset Miami. He has to find a way to get more lift off that knee. Having to play Philadelphia seven games was tough but it probably only happened because Allen and Pierce weren’t themselves to begin with; now they either use their guts and grit to defy their bodies in game two or they succumb to a two-zero-hole which may spell season’s end if it happened.
Key Matchups: Paul Pierce versus Lebron James. Pierce is covering James hurt which spells doom ordinarily but Pierce is not an ordinary player; he’s an N.B.A. Final’s M.V.P. and a future Hall-Of-Famer who wants another ring I’m sure. He, like Allen, simply has to find a way to get it done in the face of adversity. OKC
|Oklahoma City Thunder||Points||Assists||Rebounds|
X-Factors: Can they defend the pick-and-roll of San Antonio? San Antonio has had command and controlled the pace for the first two games of this series but I’m not counting out the Thunder yet. If they can use the energy at home to muster up some real intensity and tie this series up, anything can happen despite how scary it looks for them right now, but it all starts on defense.
Key Matchup: Ibaka/Perkins versus Duncan. Those two must contain Duncan and make their defensive presence felt. If they can do that and force San Antonio to stay on the outside and middle more, the momentum may shift in Oklahoma’s favor, especially if blocked shots can lead to more fast break points.
|San Antonio Spurs||Points||Assists||Rebounds|
X-Factors: Can they play as well in the chaos of OKC’s home floor or will their flow finally be interrupted? And if OKC can put win back-to-back games on their own floor, will they get enough steam to go into San Antonio and steal a game. This could be a series that relies on energy; their deep bench will be the key to them maintaining poise if their stars get tired.
Key Matchup: The Thunder will look to get more out of their big men at home. If they can command the paint and contain Duncan, this series will change and will be severely extended. That’s why we will have to see what the Spurs’ bench is made of on the road in this series. If they can play like they’ve been playing in the next two games, we may see them having another Finals appearance sooner rather than later.
That’s all for this edition. I look forward to watching for the results of this round and doing an analysis for the Finals. Thanks for reading.