Call them The Firm. Allen and Allen – For the Defense.
Each game, they are making their own ‘court’ case.
Ray Allen and Tony Allen have been assigned the lion’s share of minutes to stopping Kobe Bryant, who some call the league’s most lethal offensive player. Bryant has done little to dissuade that opinion.
He scored 3 straight three pointers in the 4th quarter, in an attempt to bring his team back from the avalanche of scoring and energy that the Celtics second unit dropped on them to take the lead away. He finished with 33 points and 6 made three pointers. That was one three pointer short of Ray Allen’s recently minted NBA Finals record. That has gone largely without fanfare in the wake of the Lakers’ loss.
Allen and Allen have been busy trying to lay the law down and Kobe has been busy circumventing it. As expected, Kobe is leading the Lakers with a 28 point average and making a number of jaw dropping, spectacular shots. But he is using great energy, effort and has just enough missed shots and turnovers to mitigate many of those missiles.
In the case of Kobe Bryant vs. the Celtics, Allen and Allen are prosecuting the defense.
Ray Allen’s own uneven offensive output may have more to do with the focus he has to have to guard Kobe Bryant than is being mentioned. It happened that way when Paul Pierce had to guard LeBron James. Ray is doing an unheralded and very solid job on making life difficult for Kobe. But it is Tony Allen who is having the most success.
Tony Allen’s Solid Play
Here is a great article by Michael Lee of the Washington Post about how the Celtics don’t get rankled when Kobe Bryant makes some great shots…and he is making a number of them. Special props go to the unsung minor partner in the firm – Tony Allen.
The Celtics are making Kobe work hard to get whatever he gets, and even Bryant gives Tony Allen respect for his solid defensive play.
“He does a great job,” Bryant said. “He plays hard, he competes, and he’s a good solid defender. I’m enjoying it.”
Don’t Over React to Great Shots
Doc Rivers on handling the superstars that they have faced in each round and particularly Kobe (from Lee in the Washington Post)….
“We just play our team defense, and we have to be able to play through his greatness,” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said of Bryant on Friday, the day after his team evened the NBA Finals at two games apiece with a 96-89 victory. “We’ve had the luxury of saying that now every series. In Round 1, we said, ‘Hey, we have to have the luxury of playing through Dwyane’s greatness.’ The second was LeBron’s greatness. The third one was Dwight Howard’s greatness. Now we’re saying it again, and we’ve said it every game. Don’t overreact to great shots.”
Lee notes that Kobe is just 5 for 19 when Tony Allen is guarding him. Phil Jackson on Tony Allen…
“He steps on his right hand really well, makes him go left and keeps [himself] on the floor instead of getting up [in the air] on the pump fakes,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said in the Washington Post.
Tony Allen is still very athletic, young, energetic and now mature enough to know to stay down on pump fakes. He has always been a solid and clever man-to-man defender with sticky glue. Tony has an instinctive ability to read passes well and comes up a big steal from time to time.
But it is his ability to keep in front of Bryant, keep him out of the lane and on his shooting hand that is making life a bit more difficult for one of the league’s most dangerous shooters.
Some commentators are now saying that Kobe needs to get 40 points for the Lakers to win. If the Celtics can keep the rest of the Lakers in check, as they did in the last game, even that may not be enough.
Every game is a new case. Each case goes primarily to Allen and Allen. They have to win two more ‘court’ cases for it to really count. May the defense never rest until then.