Good afternoon, all-
Thanks for your patience. I kind of ended up taking the long way back from the arena because I had to run an errand, and then lunch, then transcribing and now the blog.
Some Mike Woodson material:
He thinks the Celtics are the best team in the league, better than they were two years ago when they won the title.
The psyche question – “The Lakers, they’re the champs until somebody takes it from them. But I think this team has got a legitimate chance to win. To come in here and try to win a game would be huge for our team. It would give us some huge confidence in terms of the season and going from there. It’s not going to be easy. … We’ve got to play a perfect game to come out of here with a win.”
My thoughts. I wouldn’t go crazy parsing “to come in here and try to win a game would be huge,” as opposed to saying, “to come in here and win a game would be huge.” That was just the way he said it. What I found interesting was that he thinks his team has to play perfect to win.
Zaza Pachulia put it well, calling it “important” to win. “You’ve got to beat this kind of team. I’m not saying every time, but you’ve got to steal a game, especially on the road. The next step, to build on the things we did last year, this is it. This is the kind of game you have to win.”
Woodson on minutes distribution against the Knicks. (In order, Joe Johnson 43:51, Al Horford 41:31, Josh Smith 39:44, Mike Bibby 34:37, Jamal Crawford 26:58, Marvin Williams 21:54, Mo Evans 21:52. As many of you noted, Teague got 1:34) Basically, he said that Johnson and Horford were the ones who were unusually high.
He played Horford long because he got hot in the second half. He didn’t play Joe Smith (1:31) because New York’s small-ball style of play would have created mismatches in the Knicks’ favor. As for Teague, “I elected not to play him. Jeff’s going to play. The most important thing is we won. That’s what you’ve got to look at. Jeff’s minutes will come.”
(I think this is a pretty valid point. Eight games in, they’re 6-2. You could certainly argue that talking this early about minutes is nitpicky.)
I will say this – Woodson likes him and has very high hopes for him.
Said Woodson, “He’s just got to be ready to play when we put him in there, and he will.”
As for coming at Boston with a different strategy, he said, “I don’t think we can get away from too much of what we do.” He made the point that his team played Boston well last year, losing three games by a combined 10 points, and the last by 12. Obviously, how Crawford changes the dynamics of the series will be interesting. (Of course, Kevin Garnett missed the last two games with his knee injury)
As I noted in a post to the last blog, Williams spent maybe 30 minutes after the shootaround shooting. He took mid-range jumpers, free-throws and 3-pointers. He was working pretty hard – he was drenched by the time he was done.
He didn’t sound very worried about his numbers, saying it’s early, but, obviously, he was aware enough to stay after to shoot, which he said he does periodically if he feels he’s getting out of rhythm.
He made mention that he thought part of it was getting fewer shots – 6.9 per game this year compared to 10.2 last season and 11.5 the season before that. (This did not come across as a complaint.)
Mostly, what he kept going back to was that he was just trying to get his rhythm back and work on his mechanics to shoot his shot the same way each time.
He said the contract didn’t have anything to do with it, that the time to feel pressure was last year, when he was playing for his next contract.
Said Williams, “We’ve got enough guys to score. I’m never worried about me scoring personally or whatnot. There’s a lot of guys that can score on this team. If everybody comes in and does their part defensively and rebounds, it’s fine.”
Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got. I gotta get cracking on the notebook and get over to the arena. Hope this is of interest to you. Thanks again for all of the questions, and I apologize I couldn’t hit more. I’ll see if I can get to a few more before the tip.