Once again the Celtics starters struggled to keep the pace with the bench.
The Celtics' starting five has been really bad. The Clippers' is really good. Entering this game, Boston needed to hope its first unit would keep things close, then its bench would prove superior enough to save the day.
Instead, the Celtics were dominated from the tip. Chris Paul (21 points, 10 assists) and J.J. Redick (27 points, 11-for-15 shooting) did whatever they wanted. Jordan looked like a buffalo stampeding among hamsters. Blake Griffin (21 points, nine rebounds) took a while to get going, but it hardly mattered. The Clippers worked the ball around, penetrated Boston's defense, slammed home dunks, owned the glass, and knocked down 3-pointers.
The Celtics submitted arguably the worst defensive quarter of the Brad Stevens era in the opening 12 minutes. The Clippers scored 34 points on 60 percent shooting — including 3-of-5 from 3-point range — and established a 14-point lead after one. It marked only the second time under Stevens the C's had allowed 34 points in a quarter. The last time, according to Basketball Reference, came Dec. 3, 2013, when the Celtics outscored the Milwaukee Bucks 39-37 in the fourth quarter of a 108-100 victory. For an encore, the Celtics gave up another 34 points on 50 percent shooting in the second quarter and entered the break trailing 68-47.