Despite the pounding the Celtics took at the hands of the defense-less Phoenix Suns last night, the game had a bit of rainbow to it thanks to ex-Celtics Bill Walton doing the color commentary along side Mike Gorman on Comcast SportsNet. I was a little bit late to the Walton party, as I understood he was still on hiatus recovering from back surgery. Hearing about the excruciating pain he managed to survive was quite sobering indeed (see the local San Diego paper's piece on Walton's struggles through the ordeal linked by The Globe).
With the verve of a rock star, Walton set the tone for Celtics fans by conveying what his own eyes and ears are telling him about this team. Early in the 1st quarter when it was still a game, Walton was glowing in his love and respect for the team:
Bill Walton thereafter provided some comedic relief while writing the epitaph to the game. After all, it was quite ironic that the Celtics lost their offense against one of NBA's worst defenses. Walton's lamented, "Celtics have not been able to capitalize on the fact that Phoenix can't guard anybody."
"It's a beautiful team game with Pierce flashing in, earning a trip to the free throw line. But to come into the franchise of the Phoenix Suns [court], to have the loudest cheers be for the Celtics, the numbers of green shirts and the people waiting at the hotel lobbies . . . and everybody enjoying Shaquille O'Neal coming onto the Boston Celtics, and the legendary status of KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and the emerging superstardom of Rondo . . . . it is great to be a Boston Celtics."
The Celtics front court seemed completely inept as Shaq and Perk both got two personal fouls in the 1st quarter, which was capped off by the Celtics tying their lowest 1st Quarter scoring total of the season, trailing the Sun 30-16. During the quarter, the Phoenix centers actually scored 18 points to the Celtics' centers total of 2 points. Walton remarked, "Not one of these Suns frontcourt players has made a single move other than catching a lob over the top and making a lay-up [in the half-court]"
It was silly indeed, especially after Marcin Gortat took a charge from Rajon Rondo, after which Walton deadpanned, "Seven-footers taking a charge - gag me with a spoon."
Walton's calm and collected response to the fouls being called on the Celtics bigs was, "Rest assured that [referee] Steve Javie has everything under control"
Later in the 2nd quarter, Doc got two techs by Javie and was thrown out of the game, and the Celtics proceed to score only 35 points in the 1st half, which was a season low.
Walton's half-time pep talk for the Celtics was a good one:
"This has been an absolute disaster. [The Celtics are] only [down by] 14, but things work out best for those that make the best out of the way the things work out. So let's get going Celtics"
The game was certainly not a clean for the Celtics as discussed seemingly ad infinitum with the 300+ comments here at Celticsblog. I'm talking about the event that took place with 4 minutes left in the game and the Celtics down by 11, Kevin Garnett smacked Channing Frye's family jewels, leading to 4 technical fouls for the C's (KG for two and Perk and Nate-Rob one each) and KG's ejection. Never a dull moment with these Celtics . . . .
Walton's lament rang true in this match-up, as he stated, "These Celtics aren't built to play back-to-back games well." Indeed, the Celtics are 6-6 in the 2nd game of back-to-backs thus far, accounting for over half their losses this season. Fortunately, these back-to-backs don't exist during the playoffs, and most fans are fairly ready to give the Celtics a mulligan in these games, especially when they are on the road.
I'd like to stress that I'm not the only one that enjoys what Walton brings to the Celtics analysis. In 2009, the American Sportscasters Association named Walton as one of the top 50 sportscasters of all-time, right there along side Johnny Most, Chick Hearn, Dave Stockton, Marv Albert and others. Also, for more recent gleemings of Bill Walton's on the Celtics, see articles at The Herald, WEEI and Celtics Hub.
Supposedly, Bill Walton will be in the studio tomorrow as he must split his allegiances between his son Luke playing with the Lakers, and his championship experience with the Celtics. He managed to split the difference somehow during the Finals last year.
You can count that he'll shed some light on the intrinsic meaning of the Lakers-Celtics game tomorrow as well.