A Tale of Two Games: Kenyon Martin Plays Big Role in Celtics 4th Quarter Collapse

In a tough to stomach 4th quarter, the Boston Celtics wore down. In late February, Danny Ainge was considering signing Kenyon Martin to fill the big-man void that the Celtics had been coping with all season. After Darko Milicic’ early season departure, and Jared Sullinger’s season-ending back surgery, the Celtics have been grasping at proverbial straws. Those straws were named Chris Wilcox, Jarvis Varnado, D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph. White and Randolph, in addition to Terrence Williams, were all Chinese-League additions, all coming in January and February. Randolph has given the Celtics surprisingly beneficial moments of energy rebounding and team defense. But Ainge may be punishing himself for passing on Martin. With the Knicks front-court in similar disarray, following Amare Stoudemire’s lingering knee issues, and Tyson Chandler’s facing a nagging neck injury. Martin played 28 meaningful minutes last night, and Celtics fans watched the ugliest offensive quarter in postseason franchise history, as the Knicks outscored the Celtics 18-8 in the final 12 minutes, thanks to the physical play of former Nets teammates Martin and Jason Kidd.

The Celtics played two games on Saturday afternoon, though the box score lists one typical four-quarter contest.

In the game’s first 35 minutes of play, Boston built a 70-63 lead, forcing Carmelo Anthony into hurried and off-balance shots, keeping J.R. Smith out of his comfort zone, and denying Raymond Felton penetration. Boston was led by Jeff Green’s blistering 20-point first half (7 of 10 from the field and 3 of 4 from distance) as well as Green’s excellent defense. Paul Pierce was able to find Avery Bradley on smart cuts to through the paint, taking advantage of Chandler’s absence. After a hot start, Carmelo was cooled off by Brandon Bass’ brilliant in-your-jersey defense, and Jeff Green’s long arms. The Celtics took advantage of Chris Copeland’s defensive ineptitude. However, Mike Woodson adjusted and gave Kenyon Martin those minutes as the game progressed.

Game #2 began with 1 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. New York got a Carmelo pull-up from the right baseline to trim the lead to 5. Garnett missed a contested five-footer. Jason Terry fouled the wily, ageless Jason Kidd. Kidd hits both free-throws. The lead shrinks to 3, 70-67. An ugly possession results in a Jeff Green 26-footer that misses badly. The quarter ends.

In the 4th quarter, the Celtics looked like a tired team. Jeff Green’s heroic first half turned turned into a nightmare 4th quarter. Kevin Garnett’s legs looked old and rusty, as he couldn’t find his shooting rhythm and the offense stopped running through Garnett at the elbow, which keeps things spaced for Pierce and Green to find penetration lanes. Instead, the harassing Knicks defense forced Boston into an unseemly eight turnovers and allowed only 11 field-goal attempts, five of which (all misses) were top-of-the-arc three-point attempts from beyond 24 feet. To put it simply, the Celtics couldn’t get a shot off, and when they did, half of them were very low-percentage shots.

Fans analyzing the box score will see that Boston’s three-man bench (Terry and Lee played 20 minutes each, and Jordan Crawford got 11 minutes), went o of 7 from the field, and contributed a measly four points. Terry went 0 of 5 from distance. It’s true that they desperately need more balance from the offense. On the other hand, Jeff Green’s 4th quarter was atrocious, including three crucial turnovers in the game’s final 6 minutes.

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Thanks for reading and Go C's! This is going 7!


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