Some Things V3.12:
Maybe because I was at home watching on the couch and could actually double and triple and quadruple check what had just happened instead of being at the arena and simply going: "Did that just happen?" - but that might have been the worst game I've ever seen Jose Calderon play.
Yes, Deron Williams is outstanding. And yes he was rested and it was obvious from the tip he had some juice in his legs. Any NBA player is dangerous when they feel fresh, just because I don't think it happens very often. So Williams has been off for a week after leaving Utah's road trip early because his daughter was having some health issues and he was obviously chomping at the bit.
That said, Calderon was terrible. Against Phoenix I thought he did a pretty good job containing Nash and one thing he did well was jam him early - make sure he got right on top of Nash as soon as he had the ball so the he couldn't gather speed in the neutral zone, as it were, and hit the frontcourt with momentum. There was none of that last night.
There were too many blow-bys to count but one that stood out in the second half makes the point: Hedo Turkoglu misses the second free throw and Williams catches the outlet in stride around his own three-point line and turns on the jets. Meanwhile Calderon had been standing roughly around centre with Turkoglu on the line and his first move on the miss is to drop back. He keeps dropping back. And back. Williams is at top speed by the time Calderon tries to offer any resistance, and this is when he's standing somewhere around the elbow. Needless to say Williams hardly notices and makes the easy layup. To me the obvious move is to cover Williams when Turkoglu is on the line. Don't let him catch that first pass and if he does turn him early and if you do get beat you have 50 feet to recover and try and turn him again, plus your teammates can recognize you've been beat and can help. But standing passively 15 feet from the hoop and waiting for a world-class player to make a move when he's got 60 feet to make up his mind is not going to work out in your favour. I honestly can't believe it happened.
On another occasion in the first half there was a Toronto miss and Calderon was a bit behind the play when Williams got the ball just before half. Calderon sprinted to catch up but takes a very generous angle - that is, he barely gets into Williams' area code. Williams is over centre and heading down the right sideline. To me the play would be to get onto Williams' hip and keep him going in that direction.
In the NBA the goal is to contain the dribbler, as opposed to stopping the dribbler. These guys can't be stopped. How many times do you see point guards have to pick up their dribble at midcourt or have their pocket picked? Not often. But they can be directed or herded. The trick is to offer a path of least resistance - "by all means continue dribbling to the sideline and baseline, where at least your options are limited" - while doing your best to block the alternative. As an added bonus the Raptors general game plan is to herd the ball to the sideline and baseline.
In this case Calderon overruns Williams. With the Jazz point guard heading down the right-hand sideline Calderon heads to Williams' right hand. Sometimes this is a tactic - you're trying to make him turn where you know there is help or you're baiting him into turning to his weak hand, for example, and are anticipating the move.
Calderon is anticipating nothing. He overruns Williams and isn't even close enough to force him to break his stride on the crossover; Williams simply changes hands, jogs into the paint and drops a little bounce pass to Ronnie Brewer for the dunk. Leo gets on Bargnani for being slow to help, but I don't think you can blame the help when the point guard is beaten so badly.
These are just two plays, but the theme was oft-repeated. Maybe he was tired and obviously Williams was dialed in, but Calderon made it an easy night for him and tough for his team.
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