WALTHAM, Mass. -- The pick-and-roll. It's the simplest play in basketball, and yet, when it's run effectively, it's virtually impossible to defend.
Think about it: One player comes up and sets the screen; the other dribbles off it. Not exactly a complex, Auerbachian-type maneuver. In the 1990s, Utah's
"The pick-and-roll, that was really their go-to play," said an NBA scout who watched the Bulls beat the defending champion Celtics 105-103 in overtime Saturday in Game 1 of the first-round series. Game 2 is Monday in Boston.
"They just kept running it and running it and Boston couldn't do anything to stop it," the scout added.
Of all the problems that plagued the Celtics -- a list that includes porous transition defense and an inability to make perimeter shots -- defending the pick-and-roll ranked at the top. Ordinarily, Boston rates among the best pick-and-roll defensive teams in the league. But
On Sunday, the Celtics weren't exactly forthcoming about their strategy to improve their shoddy defense. Coach
But NBA insiders say Boston's priority should be bottling up the Bulls' dynamic rookie.
"Here's the thing: The Celtics aren't great at stopping dribble penetration," an Eastern Conference assistant coach said. "Guys get in the lane against them all the time. But in the past, they have had Garnett and Perkins down low to cover up any mistakes. Without Garnett, Boston
Most of Boston's other concerns are ancillary.
But the key is containing Rose. If Davis and Powe submit another ho-hum performance, Rose will burn the Celtics again and the Bulls, who had the worst regular-season road record among playoff teams (13-28), could leave Boston with a back-breaking 2-0 series edge. But if Boston can mix up its coverages and limit the presumptive Rookie of the Year, it should have more than enough firepower to overwhelm Chicago and even the series.
"Checking Rose is the key," the scout said. "He made Rondo work awfully hard [on Saturday]. Davis and Powe have to do a better job or else Boston is in trouble."