Celtics Pounded in the Paint, Last Minute, & Old Faces

You win Tony, you win...

Everybody knew the Grizzlies' strength going into the game. The Grizzlies knew it, the Celtics knew it, and chances are a lot of NBA fans knew it.

Still, nothing could be done. That's a little troublesome, right?

The Grizzlies didn't do anything fancy. They didn't trick the Celtics, or come out with a game plan that completely threw them off. Their strength happened to be the weakness that has plagued the Celtics for most of the season - a presence down low.

Memphis outscored the Celtics in the paint tonight 52 to 26 - double. On top of that, Memphis grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, compared to just four for the Celtics. But they're near the top in the league in scoring in the paint, so that should be expected - or should it?

The mark of a championship caliber team is that its players and coaches can find ways to take the opposition's strength away, in this case, being the Grizzlies' inside game.

It was clear early on that it wasn't going to happen.

"The emphasis was to pack the paint," Paul Pierce said after the loss. "They aren't a great three point shooting team so there is no excuse for all that. We should have done a better job in there, make them kick it out and make them knock down a couple of jumpers."

Everybody knew the Grizzlies' strength going into the game. The Grizzlies knew it, the Celtics knew it, and chances Mission, failed. The Grizzlies took 51 shots in the paint out of 83 total field goal attempts. Why not? It's not like the C's were stopping any of them (zero blocks).

But hopefully the Celtics team that stepped onto the court Wednesday night isn't the same one that steps on the court once the postseason is underway. It's no secret that the C's need Shaquille O'Neal (and even Jermaine O'Neal) back as soon as possible. Not because they need wins now (although it would be nice) but because it's important to get those guys back into the swing of things in time.

If you're the Celtics, you don't want to make the same "we're-trying-to-get-guys-incorporated-in-the-system" excuses that you've had to use for the past month. And make no mistake about it; you have to get Shaq and J.O. reincorporated after the extensive time off.

"We have guys learning on the fly and it's not easy," Kevin Garnett said. "Especially when we're trying to get stops and be in a defensive rhythm, which turns into a great offense. It's difficult but if anybody can handle it we can."

The Last Minute

Even though the Celtics go pounded in the paint, the defense wasn't really the issue Wednesday night. It was once again the starters and the lack of offense, especially coming out of the gate.

But as bad as the offense was to start to game, it was that much worse to end the game. With names like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Jeff Green, you'd expect at least one of them to take the last two shots of the game.

Nope.

Try Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis.

Down one point, the Celtics had the ball, and led by Rajon Rondo charged down the court. There were a few options at this point: Call a timeout, give the ball to Pierce, slow it down and run a play. Instead, Rondo carried the ball all the way to the paint and threw up and off-balanced runner that clanged off the rim.

The shot wasn't terrible, and it's one that if given to Rondo, he should take. But should he have had the ball at that point still?

"I probably should've called a time out on the fast break," Doc Rivers admitted. "I honestly thought Rondo was going to hand it off to Paul (Pierce) in transition, and once I saw that I thought, ‘I'll take that all day.' But he didn't and then went for the shot. 

"And so it's easy to second-guess it now, you know, you should've called a time out.  But I thought we had numbers and I thought we were going to get it to our best offensive player in transition and I'd take those odds all day." 

Doc is right, it is easy to second-guess now, but it's hard not to wonder what was going through Rondo's mind at that point. It wasn't exactly his best night shooting from the field (2-12), and Pierce seemed to be on. Rivers admitted that he wanted the ball to get to Pierce, but stopped short of criticizing Rondo for taking the shot.

As far as the Glen Davis three-point fail, let's just say that wasn't the play -- obviously. It was supposed to get to Pierce or Allen for the three, but if they were guarded (which they were) drive to the hoop. Davis, perhaps in a bit of a panic once the ball got to him, took the three-pointer and missed.

Why not put Jeff Green in the game in that situation?

Old Faces New Jerseys

Wednesday night's game marked the first game in which Tony Allen returned to the TD Garden in another team's jersey.

Unlike Eddie House's return, or Brian Scalabrine's, there was no video tribute to welcome back T.A.

Something tells me he's over it.

The Celtics certainly could have used Allen this season, especially given the state of health the team was in. Rivers said prior to the game that the Celtics expected Allen back, but unfortunately negotiations got in the way and prevented it from happening.

It was clear early on that Allen's role on the Grizzlies is a bigger one than what he would have had on the Celtics. In all, Allen went 4-10 from the field, scoring eight points and grabbing seven boards in 28 minutes of action.

"I can't sit here and say I didn't want to win, this one felt a little different," Allen said. "I wanted to win this one more than anything, but for the most part, we played hard together, it was a team win, and that's just what we needed to do going into Chicago. We needed this win, it's a big confidence boost."

It wasn't just Tony Allen returning to the Garden. Old friend Leon Powe was back too, and he made his presence felt more than anyone expected.

Powe was, according to Rivers, "the baddest man on the planet tonight", as he went 5-6 from the field for 13 points.

The Celtics refrained from bringing him onto the team because of health concerns, but it was pretty tough to watch him play the way he did and then look over to end of the bench where Troy Murphy was sitting.

All in all, Powe has no hard feelings towards the Celtics, and like Allen, is just glad to leave with a win.

"Oh man it's great, it's fun, especially when you get a win," Powe said. "This is a great team over there, a great team, and when you can come on the road and beat a great team like that and do it on the defensive end, like I thought we did, it's huge for a young, up and coming team.

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