Felton’s Defense on Pierce Has Been Key

Brian DiMenna

I’ve stolen this video (I know Pierce makes the shot, but seriously check out that D) and much of this premise from Dylan Murphy’s excellent piece over at Posting and Toasting we linked to earlier. I’ll add how much I liked it and advise that you go read it– here’s the link again — not only to make myself feel better because of the thievery, but also because I really think you should. But I’m “sharing” it to make something of a complementary point rather than simply a derivative one.

One of the things that must make coaching so challenging is to watch so many of your best laid plans not work out. When it became clear that the Knicks would use Felton on Pierce to start this series, I must confess it was a matchup that immediately concerned me. Sure, it’s mostly been quicker point guards that have given Felton the most trouble this year, but the idea of him being forced to handle Pierce in isolation seemed like a problem.

Instead, it’s been almost the exact opposite, as the Knicks have goaded Boston into an over-reliance on this one-on-one matchup to the detriment of the rest of their offense, without gaining much of anything. Instead, of being forced to chase around quicker guards, Felton’s been able to use his strength to give Pierce a really hard time, and the Celtics — particularly in second halves — have been pretty much a mess on the offensive end.

And it has to be especially frustrating for Doc Rivers and his staff to watch something you anticipated being an advantage turn quickly into something of a hindrance. It’s why NBA teams likely have to spend so much money on broken chalkboards and video equipment, and it’s also a big reason why New York is up 2-0 with a good chance to put a stranglehold on this series tonight.

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