Well, I could have done without this one. One night after one of the most fun wins of the year in San Antonio, the Celtics pulled the old bye-bye somewhere ate the end of the third quarter. If it’s one thing that I hate about this team as a diehard fan, it’s their ability to tantalize, to thrill, and then disappoint. This game was one of those. After a great, win over the Spurs. This game looked to be leading the Celtics out of the center-less wilderness and back to controlling their destiny. This was shaping up to be a "build on" game, where the C’s set the table for the playoffs. They seemed ready to win a back to back, and I figured this would perhaps give way to the much needed mini-streak to close out the year. It was the beginning of the end of the Perk trade whining, but this was not the case.
I have been watching the NBA for thirty years now, and still don’t understand the way teams can summarily dominate a game, and then literally in a snap, swing out of the groove and lose. Throw in the blown leads, and it’s just amazing how often this occurs over the course of a season. Right now, the Celtics are Exhibit A. Don’t get me wrong the Hawks are still clearly a five seed in the playoffs. However, the Celtics look more like a six seed. Let’s review…
As soon as Larry Drew woke up and decided to sit the enigma that is Josh Smith, the complexion of the Hawks changed. On Josh Smith, this kids needs to move in with KG over the summer and see what it is all about. He is perhaps the most talented athlete in the NBA aside from LeBron, but his motor is like a three cylinder Yugo. In any case, upon Smith taking a seat, the Hawks stopped their foolish bad jump shot offense and started to play reasonable team ball. At that point, they began to chisel the Celtics eleven point lead down to six then even. They moved the ball, took better shots, and hit the glass. They took it back. Nothing upsets a true Celtic fan more than seeing Zsa Zsa Gabor, I mean Zaza Puchulia (Have you ever seen a bigger cranium? He must lead the NBA in hat size. I cannot stand the guy), pick-up key free throws, rebounds, etc. at the end of the game. The Celtics feel out of their game and resorted to Big Baby bailout jumpers and other one and done opportunities. The bench didn’t hold their own. This forced them to go all-Pierce almost all the time once the lead was relinquished. The funny thing with that plan was they that they didn’t go enough.
Let’s face it. Pierce came with a big time pulse again last night, but when they should have gone 90’s offense and jammed the ball to him every time, they didn’t. They went to him and then shied away then went to him and shied away. This guy is still the most talented offensive player on the team, and he should see the rock every time down the stretch in a game like this. When no one else steps up, he is the team crutch.
The offense should not come to one on one isolation play on a team like this though. This club wins with ball movement for optimal shots. They do not win when they bog down. They definitely do not win when they don’t get enough opportunities for Ray and KG down the stretch. Nine shots apiece are not enough. Ray shot 4-9 and KG was 5-9. Not mason certified by any means. What would it have hurt to get three more shots each for these two?
You see, offense is the problem for these guys right now. They held the Hawks to 36.7% from the field. The Celts shot 44.6%. This hovers somewhere around the league average. Can we agree good enough to win? The killer is they don’t get enough easy buckets. Three offensive rebounds is RIDUICULOUS! The Hawks had fourteen. If you believe that an offensive rebound leads to an additional shot, and factor in the Hawks at 37% shooting, that means 5-14, or ten points. The final was 88-83….you do the math. They don’t rebound as a team, never have, and never will. Offensive rebounding is part of offense folks. And the Celtics are woeful. Let’s put it this way, if the offensive rebounding playoffs started today the C’s would be in the lottery. They are 22nd out of 30 in the league. At the beginning of the season, I believed the hype that their poor offensive rebounding had to do with good shooting and fewer opportunities. Now it is glaring that it is not.
Before any one gets carried away thinking about Perk here, he averages a whopping six boards a game, of which 1.8, almost two, are offensive. You see that is the thing with this whole trade drama that has drug on and on and on. Perkins is an excellent player. He is a stand out post defender, but overall he is six point and six rebounds. I understand the team dynamic issue here, but six and six. Are you telling me that this is why the C’s are sucking wind on back to backs? Why Ray doesn’t see the ball regularly? Why Pierce is forced to dust off his 90’s offensive playbook? Rondo sulking? Maybe, but the kid had a great Spur game. He shot poorly last night, but had thirteen points, and tied for a team high ten rebounds. He is capable of it, and hasn’t lost it. Here’s the point Perk’s six and six isn’t the reason the team is down. Does anyone remember the five straight that they ran off after the shock loss in Denver? They are 9-8 since the trade. This includes a 5 point loss last night that shouldn’t have happened, along with a two point loss, a pair of three point losses, a four point loss, and one more five point loss. That is seven, SEVEN, by five points or less. Of these, five losses were games that the winning team scored 90 or less. That reeks of a lack of toughness when it’s needed. Maybe the team isn’t as tough as we think. I know they have it in them. They need to find it. I would only point out a great Bird quote here. I just finished Rebound, by Michael Connelly. It’s a great look at our beloved Boston dragging itself out of the mire of 70’s bussing. The book is framed around the dawn of one Mr. L. Bird and his Celtics. The story talks about how a team of six black guys and six white guys came together to win Banner 14 in 1981. This happens to be when my foray into pro hoops began as a youngster, by the way. In any case let’s get back to the Bird quote. It was right after they C’s defeated the Sixers in an extremely TOUGH series (Doc, play the highlights at the next film session….please!). A reporter asked Bird about the team’s miraculous comeback from being down three games to one and facing elimination. Bird simply said. "I never give up. Too many people give up."
At the end of the day, toughness is what it comes down to. The core of this club was there in 2008. They were as mentally tough as any team. They have it in them, the question is can they find it in time……NEVER give up guys! Come on!
Fast forward to the 4:50 mark below.....
20 votes total
Be respectful and keep it clean. Thanks.