Apr 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard C.J. Watson (7) drives past Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Evan Turner (12) during the first half in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday told Philly media that his 6'3" frame would check Richard Hamilton on defense. He also fueled speculation that Evan Turner would replace Jodie Meeks in the starting lineup for Game Two on Tuesday (h/t: Liberty Ballers):
Asked if Watson was his assignment to guard, Holiday said, "No, that's Evan. I'm on Rip (Hamilton) tomorrow."
Holiday is too small, but the 76ers having to throw everything but the kitchen sink at this game to grab rebounds has this move making sense. Holiday has the speed, but Hamilton counters speed very often by curling around screens on the catch for open looks at the elbow. The Sixers are them faced with the dilemma: weakly challenge Rip or leave rebounding positions to help.
Philly head coach Doug Collins was clear that Turner and Andre Iguodala chasing Rip and Kyle Korver around takes away from their positioning to grab defensive rebounds. And Turner is one of their best defensive rebounders; not to mention, he led all shooting guards in defensive rebounding rate this season.
"If we don't rebound we can't win," Collins said on Monday (h/t: Liberty Ballers). "We gave them 20 second-chance points. We talked to our bigs and our wings about rebounding the ball. One of the problems that we have is when we put [Iguodala] on Rip or Korver, he's one of our better rebounders and he's away from the basket. Same thing about Evan."
Collins was quoted in a different article as saying (h/t: Liberty Ballers): "For us to win, a big part of it is his rebounding. He and [Andre Iguodala] help us on the boards and the problem for 'Dre is he's chasing guys on the perimeter and we missed both of those guys on the boards."
Collins is right. And I've hung my hat on the importance of Rip and Korver wreaking havoc off the ball -- regardless of their shooting percentages -- in ways that trickle down to hurt Philly's effort to grab 50-50 balls, endure that sort of chasing over long shifts, and have the energy to use their speed on offense.
Turner is a much better defender than Holiday to take on Watson, which will cause problems, but Philly plans to trap less and these shorter players on Rip and Korver just give Watson better outs to move the ball away from Turner.
Most notably, as the great compilation by Liberty Ballers shows, Jodie Meeks flat-out sucked on Rip in ways that are too repeatable to gamble on as a blip on the radar.