Key to Game 4: Fisher's D ... or whatever you want to call it
BOSTON -- The beauty of
"When you set a screen on Fish, you better be ready to
In Boston, however, Fisher is a member of the Floppers Club. Any little nick or bump by a Celtics big man seems to send the 14-year veteran careening off the court like he had been blasted out of a cannon. Meanwhile, when
"Derek?" said Celtics coach
Though the spotlight will shift from
While Allen has made a living playing catch-and-shoot off screens, Fisher has earned a reputation as a defender willing to do whatever it takes to get through them. Fisher's defense begins well before the cut, when he bodies up Allen and tangles him up to slow his progress. When the screen comes, Fisher flashes through three options: going over, under or straight through it. As he navigates the contact, he watches for any sign of movement. If the screener shuffles his feet or extends his hip, Fisher reacts in a not-so-subtle way to get the referees' attention.
"It's hard to be around Fisher because if you touch him, he's going to fall,"
Indeed, there are times when Fisher will lower his shoulder and barrel right into screens, delivering what former coach and ESPN analyst
"I can't let them put their body on me time after time," Fisher said. "At some point, I'm going to let you know I'm tired of you hitting me. The big guys are the screeners and a lot of the time they are getting a free run at you. Sometimes it's just about letting them know, 'OK, you have gotten 15 hits on me, it's time for me to get one.'"
Fisher's flopping has a considerable effect. Creating space for Allen sometimes requires movement to spring the All-Star shooter. However, when Boston's bigs see Fisher coming, the mindset is to make sure not to remain rigid lest they pick up a costly offensive foul.
"If I go to set a pick, I'm going to stay in my spot and hope he runs into me," Davis said. "If he doesn't, he doesn't."
Said Fisher, "I have this reputation for flopping. A lot of times they think if they don't set a good screen, they are going to get hit with a foul."
Springing Allen will be one of Boston's top priorities in Game 4, making Fisher's ability to get through those screens a critical component to the Lakers' defense. In an effort to even the playing field, Rivers said he sent "a lot" of film to the league office showing the Lakers delivering what he felt were illegal screens, effectively saying to the NBA that, if Fisher is getting the call, the Celtics want to get it too.
"[Fisher] been in the game long enough to understand [the referees]," said Rivers. "I thought he got away with a lot last night. I thought there was a lot of holding going on and a lot of flopping going on. But he's good at it, he's always been good at it. We knew that going into the series."