Last night's loss to the Clippers was a loss only last season could love.
Luckily, there haven't been a ton of them this season, and with the current state of health on this C's team, can we really be all that surprised? I mean, they're going to lose some games with these makeshift rotations at some point, right?
That being said, this loss has to do with the starters. There's no excuse for coming out the way they did against the Clippers. Four of those guys have been playing together for the better part of four seasons, so that's no excuse.
When you give any team in the league confidence, they're going to make you pay. That's what the Celtics starters did early on. The Clippers jumped out to a 30-17 lead after the first quarter, shooting almost 70-percent, while the C's couldn't touch 40-percent from the field.
"It's tough when you get out to bad starts and a lot of that has to do with the starters," Paul Pierce said. "How we come out at the beginning of the games, we've got to come out with a better focus."
"I like the way we have been finishing games," Pierce continued. "We didn't do that tonight like we wanted to, but if we get off to better starts with the way we have been finishing we would be able to put in 48 minutes of basketball. Right now it's a lot of inconsistency. Some of that has to do with implementing a lot of new guys, but like I said at the start we got to get off to better starts and that's with the guys that have been here."
You could say it was a trap game to an extent - the game that they're supposed to win but don't get up for, not early enough anyways.
But one player who did get up was the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan. And by up, I mean up.
Jordan had four dunks in the first quarter alone, and would have had another if he weren't fouled on the attempt.
He finished with 21 points on 9/10 shooting (dunking) from the field and nine rebounds. Jordan, who averages less than seven points a game, isn't known as an offensive weapon for the Clippers.
"It's rare when you get a young kid that really doesn't need to score," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said of Jordan. "He just wants to run the floor, sets picks, and blocks shots, and if scoring comes on rolls to the basket he'll take it and he's happy with that. That's unusual and that's great.
Not to take anything away from Jordan, but his offensive performance can be attributed to the lack of healthy big men the C's currently have.
Last night was a clear example of something we already pretty much knew - the C's are going to need a healthy Shaquille O'Neal in the playoffs if they even want to sniff the Eastern Conference Finals.
Kendrick Perkins isn't walking through that door folks. Neither is Semih Erden. Glen Davis isn't big enough in some cases. Nenad Krstic will get better in time, but nowhere near shutdown defender status (not why he was brought in anyways). Kevin Garnett can't do it all himself, and who knows if Jermaine O'Neal will be able to contribute.
One can only hope at this point that Shaq is taking the proper steps necessary to get healthy and stay healthy throughout the playoffs. It's scary to admit, but the C's hopes of Banner 18 may rest in the health of O'Neal.
How's this for a lineup: Carlos Arroyo, Sasha Pavlovic, Jeff Green, Troy Murphy, and Nenad Krstic.
To think that just weeks (days) ago literally zero of these players were on the team, it's crazy to think that they're all playing alongside each other now, but that's the case.
The results? Mixed - obviously. Of course there is work to be done, and as players like Delonte West, Glen Davis, and Shaquille O'Neal return, the rotation will (hopefully) get set.
But as noted earlier, it wasn't the bench's fault for the loss last night. In fact, the newest member of the team, Carlos Arroyo, was quite impressive in his debut. He'll prove to be the backup point guard the Celtics need going forth.
"I thought (Carlos) Arroyo was phenomenal," Rivers said. "He ran our club. And so the second unit, you could see it early on. When he came down and called a play that we hadn't put in for him, but he knew the team ran it, I thought, ‘Man, this guy - he's pretty good.' You know, everybody else knew it on the floor and he called it and you know, I was shocked that he knew it. It was great. So there were some good things there."
Rondo still played 43 minutes, but don't let that be a cause for concern. It was, after all, Arroyo's first game. And don't forget the C's were down essentially the entire game, and Rondo was needed to bring them back. West isn't back yet either. Once West is back, the team will be able to run a second unit with West and Arroyo as the guards. That will enable Rondo to get the rest needed and keep his minutes down.
Many questioned the signing of Pavlovic by Celtics President Danny Ainge, but it looks to be a good one.
Pavlovic won't fill up the stat sheet for this team, but he does provide something that the C's lacked behind Pierce - a big enough, capable defender. Pavlovic is that, and has showed it so far. Von Wafer has done a commendable job buying into the defensive part of the game, but you can't teach size, and Pavlovic has the edge over him there.
How the West Won
The Celtics fell to 27-6 at home after last night's loss to the L.A. Clippers. The six losses have one thing in common - they've all come at the hands of Western Conference teams.
Dallas, both L.A.'s, Houston, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City all have bragging rights in terms of taking down the C's at home, something that none of the Eastern Conference teams can say.
That's just another reason that home court advantage is so important this year.
Take the Bulls for example. Chicago is 45-18 this season, but just 18-14 on the road. Orlando isn't much better at 17-13 away from home. Nobody wants to play the Bulls it seems, but if you've got four out of the seven games in your arena, you increase you chances of moving on by a decent amount, right?
And nobody needs to be reminded on where the C's played Games 6 and 7 last season in the NBA Finals.