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Inattentiveness To Detail a Killer In Milwaukee

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Box out.  Take care of the basketball.  Make foul shots.

They are occasionally hit with that ever-amorphous "little things' label, but those factors are anything but.  Despite the Celtics' disgusting day shooting the ball from the field (credit also goes to Scott Skiles' Bucks playing aggressive defense), the team's lack of execution in those areas cost it yesterday's 86-77 decision in Milwaukee as much as anything else did.

While the Celtics shot just 37.7 percent from the field, and stars Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined to go 6-for-26, they held Milwaukee to an even worse 32.6 percent from the floor.  The issue is that the difference in shooting percentage doesn't make up for Milwaukee's 20 more attempts.

Kendrick Perkins did an impressive job on the offensive glass, grabbing nine of the Celtics' 15 offensive rebounds at that end.  Very nice...until one remembers that the Celtics didn't do a whole lot of boxing out to defend the Milwaukee basket.  Four Bucks (Charlie Villanueva, Luc Mbah a Moute, Malik Allen and Keith Bogans) grabbed at least four offensive boards, and the team finished with 21.  The Bucks went after loose balls harder all afternoon, especially at their offensive end, and there always seemed to be two white shirts racing one green shirt to long rebounds.  The Celtics sit second in the league in allowing an opponent offensive rebound rate of just 23.6 percent on average.  The Bucks checked in at nearly 39 percent yesterday.  That's six extra chances.

When the Bucks weren't extending their own possessions with second and third opportunities, they cut the Celtics' short by forcing turnovers.  While the Celts' turnover issues have been well known throughout the season, 25 is exorbitant in any situation.  The offense remained out of sync all day.  The team committed four offensive fouls.  Rajon Rondo flung a pass five rows into the stands, committed a dribbling violation and lost the ball on three other occasions.  Paul Pierce had a disaster of a day across the board and helped the cause by putting up more than a fourth of the team's total giveaways.  So on down the line it went.  Of the Celtics to step on the floor in the first 47 minutes, only Eddie House went without a turnover, and only House, Mikki Moore and Bill Walker had less than two.  Team effort through and through.  At the other end, the Celts forced a respectable 15 turnovers.  But when a team gives up the ball 25 times, that's still a net of 10 extra chances going the wrong way.

Between the offensive rebounding and ball control fiascoes, that's already an extra 16 shots for Milwaukee.  The rest of the difference between the team's field-goal attempt figures can be explained by the fact that the Celtics went to the foul line eight more times.  Normally, this would be a plus, except that once again, the team was putrid at the line.  Considering that the normally less-than-a-guarantee Kendrick Perkins shot 8-for-10 from the stripe, it's even more disgusting that the rest of the team couldn't get the job done.  Led by Paul Pierce's 7-for-12 effort, the Celts shot 24-for-35 (68.6 percent) from the line for the game.  Milwaukee scored exactly as many points from the line.

Sure, it's tough to win when two stars and the point guard have terrible shooting days.  But that stuff happens, especially against scrappy defensive teams.  Defensive rebounding, foul shooting and controlling the ball often come down to focus.  If the Celtics could have locked in on any of those issues, yesterday's game might have turned out favorably. 

Instead, it wound up one more afternoon of frustration that will hopefully be vanquished in our memories Tuesday night at Chicago.

The rest of my postgame ruminations, only because it wouldn't be fair to talk about this game without crediting the big fella:

  • Great effort from Kendrick Perkins, especially in the second half.  Of his career-high 26 points, 18 came on the back side of recess, including 10 of the Celtics' 22 in the third quarter.  He still makes me nervous finishing around the basket, but he did complete two baskets while being fouled, had a great day from the foul line and fought all afternoon on the offensive glass.  Not much room for complaint left by his performance in this one.
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute only shot 4-for-11 from the field but still impressed overall.  He made a beautiful up-and-under move on the left block to score against Leon Powe early in the game, got himself to the foul line eight times and frustrated Ray Allen all day on defense. 
  • Ramon Sessions didn't shoot the ball well either, but he did move the ball very effectively, and he did a fine job getting in the passing lanes at the defensive end.  Seven assists, four steals and just one turnover isn't bad while holding the opposing point guard to a 2-for-10 day to match his own 2-for-9.
  • Leon Powe fouled out of this game with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.  
  • Mikki Moore jumped over the floor-level bar he had set for himself before Friday night and had his second best game as a Celtic.  He hit a couple of jumpers and didn't appear to be as insultingly bad defensively as he had been previously.  Still, he wasn't as effective on the boards as I had thought while watching the game, notching four in 23 minutes.  But he made it through the game with four fouls and didn't pick up his third until the third quarter.  Step in the right direction.
  • I'm still confused as to what Bill Walker did to get his minutes sliced from 15 on Friday down to four yesterday.

Get well soon, KG.

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