The Celtics decided to make things more difficult for the rookie guard from Russia.
Alexey Shved's first shot on Wednesday at Boston came from well beyond the three-point arc late in the first quarter. Shved, all alone, elevated and hit the three-pointer to give his team a five-point lead.
It only got harder from there. Both for Shved and for the Wolves, who ended up losing by 10 points.
Shved, a rookie who came to the Timberwolves from Russia with a wealth of big-game experience, has proven effective coming off the bench, giving the Wolves a player who can set up teammates (3.6 assists per game), handle the ball and make shots.
He has scored in double figures in four consecutive games and has proven to be reliable from three-point range.
Teams have noticed.
On Wednesday in Boston, the Celtics, normally an aggressive team in defending the pick and roll anyway, tried hard to make things difficult for Shved after that first open shot. They were physical with him on the perimeter, often using bigger players to disrupt his shot -- and he noticed.
"They can't play more physical than that," Shved said after the game.
Actually they probably can and will.
After watching Shved make 13 of 24 three-pointers in a four-game stretch, Boston decided to make things more difficult for him. You can expect other teams to take notice. It's the give-and-take of the ever-adjusting NBA.
"There is no question, more teams are going to do that," fellow guard J.J. Barea said after the Boston game. "I think this game was a good experience for him. Today he got better, and he'll learn there is a lot of contact he's going to have to deal with. But that's OK. It's a good experience for him."
The entire Wolves backcourt had to deal with the Celtics' tough perimeter defense.
"They were very physical," coach Rick Adelman said. "They were into us all night long. We have to learn that's how it's going to be."
So what's the next step?
If teams continue to use bigger players on him coming out of pick and rolls, Shved will have to use his ball-handling ability to get to the rim. That plus setting up others will create some space for his outside shot.
But, like all rookies, Shved will just have to learn to live with the physical play. After making his first shot in Boston, Shved shot 3-for-10 the rest of the way, 1-for-4 on three-pointers.
"That's the way Boston plays," Barea said.
"They were trapping the pick and rolls hard. We have to move the ball better."
|Miami - LP: B. Morris||4||FINAL|
|Washington - WP: M. Grace||6|
|NY Yankees - LP: C. Martin||1||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: R. Dickey||3|
|Philadelphia - WP: A. Harang||5||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: A. Wood||2|
|Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi||5||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: C. Buchholz||1|
|Los Angeles - LP: C. Hatcher||3||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - WP: M. Blazek||4|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: P. Strop||9||FINAL|
|St. Louis - WP: M. Socolovich||10|
|Oakland - LP: J. Hahn||7||FINAL|
|Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes||8|
|Texas - WP: K. Kela||2||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: C. Qualls||1|
|Seattle - WP: F. Hernandez||3||FINAL|
|LA Angels - LP: M. Shoemaker||2|
|San Diego - LP: T. Ross||0||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner||2|