Too bad that the highlight of yesterday’s game was Joey Graham getting in the face of Carrot Top’s love child. We got down early and never recovered until the C**tics took it easy in the fourth and Kapono, Graham, Moon, Ukic and Bargnani pulled us back. The C**tics promptly returned to thwart any designs we might’ve had of a comeback as Pierce drilled a crucial jumper off a pick – nobody stepped up and the game was over. A split would’ve been nice but realistically speaking, we needed to win the home game for that to happen. We didn’t so we’re left to pick up the pieces and see if we can salvage something in the fourth and final meeting against the most classless bunch in pro sports.

A couple tidbits from yesterday:

Best Lineup: Graham, Kapono, Ukic, Bargnani, Moon. +7 to start the fourth.
Worst Lineup: Bosh, Calderon, Moon, Bargnani, Parker. -8 to start the game.
Stat of the game: Celtics 10-20 3pt shooting. Ray Allen (8-10)
Understatement of the game: ‘He got it going,’ Triano said of Allen

Some plane reading for Triano:

Deal with Rondo. That breeze you felt in the first quarter was Rondo blowing by Calderon. It’s demoralizing when your man scores because you had to help on a beaten teammate, that’s the primary effect Jose has on his teammates. Thankfully, he’s out for tonight’s game so defensively things are already better. Solomon didn’t fare well against Gabe Pruitt or Rondo which leaves us with Roko. He was matched up with Eddie House and managed to keep him in front of him. That alone warrants minutes, see if his lanky 6’5″ frame can bother Rondo, if not then try putting Moon on him. Teams have had success against the C**tics by putting a bigger man on RR, why don’t we follow suit? Dribble penetration lost us the game and is priority #1 for tonight. Rajan Rondo – you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.

Get the ball to Bargnani. That hacking cough you heard was Bosh choking on a Garnett popsicle as he went 5-16. We know he’s going to be a non-factor so let’s look for Bargnani, get him going and hopefully ride him. The Celtics are a terrible matchup for us and the only way we beat them is if somebody explodes for us. Powe, Davis and Carrot Top’s mistake cannot contend with Bargnani if they’re to respect his outside shot. If he makes a few early they’ll be forced to come out and defend thus opening up his drive and maybe even giving us our only double-team and dribble-penetration threat. As for Bosh, he might shoot a similar percentage again but Garnett isn’t shooting 3-16 tonight. Garnett missed wide open jumpers all game long and if Bosh can just make him a non-factor on offense and play him even on the boards he deserve a pat on the back and an extra All-Star vote.

Don’t overplay Allen, contain Pierce. The chances of Ray Allen hitting 8 threes again is low and we need to recognize that. The Raptors will adjust to his big game and probably come up with a switching scheme against him. Leave it to Doc Rivers and his staff to use Allen as a decoy to get Pierce off. Aah, the luxury of having three stars. Best we can do is switch on Ray and if they decide to work off of Pierce, the rotations better be there. Pierce is a terrible matchup and although Moon did okay on him today, asking him to repeat the feat is playing against the odds. Anthony Parker tried to make Ray Allen work early but his jumpers didn’t fall and he drifted off into a Parkeresque 2-12 night. I say let’s try it again and hopefully he sticks them. Let’s face it, they’re the better team and there’s no great plan we can come up with that’ll compensate for our lack of talent, best we can hope is somebody catching fire.

Post-position early. Make Bargnani or Bosh make the entry-pass into the post for each other. The C**tics play man-to-man defense which means if you can flash into the paint and receive a pass, you’ll have single-coverage for long enough to get your shot off. Since our PGs struggle to make entry passes, let the tallest guy on the team pass it to the second tallest guy on the team. If the C**tics front, spin and lob for a layup. Point is that if you can’t establish a post-game by backing your man down from the elbow-in, try something different. Maybe the C**tics even double.

Graham’s strength: He was our best player in the second quarter but didn’t get in the game after halftime until 2:15 of the third. Triano pulled a Mitchell there. We saw the Raptors look for Moon in the low-block as a second option at times, he couldn’t finish but you know who can? Yup, Joey. Get him in at the SG, if they put Pierce on him, switch to get Allen on him and then take him to the rim with Joey-like determination. Anything going to the hole is good therefore so is Joey.

And show some common sense. Ray Allen picked up his 5th foul at 7:16 of the fourth quarter and we didn’t bother trying for his 6th. He only scored 9 points after that. After he hit his first four threes, the instructions from that point forward should’ve been to switch any screen involving him yet we got caught trailing. Bosh and his 6-second long dance with the ball is killing us, we know he doesn’t have the basketball sense to read defenses and react accordingly but the least he could do is do whatever he’s planning on doing within the first two seconds. No need for the suspense. Jamario Moon should either take that three in rhythm or swing it to the left for Bargnani who made his last one. Rule of thumb is that as soon as you hesitate give the ball up because your chances of making that shot just fell drastically. Just for kicks here’s Jamario Moon’s NBA Hotspot to date:

Jamario Moon NBA HotSpot

Finally, how about some pride. This team’s beaten you three times already and if there’s an ounce of dignity or self-respect in the Raptors they’ll play 48 hard minutes regardless of the score. Last year we won the fourth and final against them on their home floor, cheers to that.

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