Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Had a chance to trade emails with Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus during the live blog of the All-Star Game. Kevin rightfully pointed out that naming Mo Williams to replace Chris Bosh was the primary reason the East got mauled inside.
The choice of Williams meant the East entered the game with only two legitimate bigs -- Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett, both of whom were starters. As a result, Rashard Lewis was forced to assume the center spot for long stretches of the game. Lewis has always been a bit challenged defending the post at the PF position, and he certainly doesn't have the strength or the ability to absorb a beating against opposing 5s. But that's exactly what he was charged with doing as the backup center on the Eastern squad, and the results were disastrous for the East.
Points in the Paint? West 96, East 58.
Glass? West 51, East 38.
Shaquille O'Neal: 17 points, 8-9 FGs in 11 minutes.
Was Cleveland's whining a contributing factor in the league's choice of Mo Williams over, say, Emeka Okafor? Perhaps, though you have to assume that the opportunity to showcase a young guard who'll likely be playing past Memorial Day was a more attractive alternative for the league than picking Okafor simply because of matchup issues, to say nothing of Mike Brown's position as Eastern head coach. Still, it would be interesting to know how much the shamockery campaign factored into the decision, and if the East could've kept it closer with another big man to bang with Shaq, Gasol, and company.