Twenty five. That is the number of turnovers one would not be surprised to see for an overmatched opponent facing a full court press for an entire game. For instance, the winner of the play-in game facing Louisville later this week, that’s a team I would expect them to have 25 turnovers. The defending champions though? Against an undermanned Milwaukee Bucks team? Can’t say I saw that coming.
Even more disturbing than the ludicrously high turnover number yesterday was the variety of ways the Celtics were finding to give Milwaukee the ball. Double dribbles, lazy passes, offensive fouls, traveling, 3 second violations. If it was in the NBA rulebook as a turnover, the Celts found a way to demonstrate it.
Doc Rivers warned before the game about how the Bucks were the top team in the league at forcing miscues and his words appeared prophetic by the time this one was over. Make no mistake though, while the Bucks defensive pressure forced the C’s into some mistakes, the green were primarily responsible for being inexcusably sloppy and reckless in this one. A complete lack of focus and execution on their part kept them from having a good chance at a W.
Some additional thoughts on a game tape that deserved to be thrown in a dumpster immediately after this contest came to a merciful end.
-The combined numbers of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo for the afternoon. 28 points on 8/36 shooting, 0/7 from long distance, 12/18 from the line, 15 turnovers. With the injuries this team’s had, it’s been tough enough to win games when one of these guys has had an off night. Needless to say the Celtics are not going to win many games with all three playing this poorly. If one of these guys shoot to their capabilities yesterday, they likely win this game. That reality makes me less worried about the state of this team.
-Perhaps the most shocking thing about this game was the fact that the Celtics still had ample opportunity to win it. After falling behind 80-69 with 4:30 left, this C’s responded with an 8-0 run led by Kendrick Perkins (more on him later) over the next 1:30.
In fact the Celtics had several chances to tie up this game in the final three minutes before Charlie Bell hit a desperation three as the shot clock expired put it out of reach. Say what you want about this team’s performance yesterday but you still have to be a little impressed with the Celtics’ tendency to make these kinds of comebacks in games otherwise marred by horrendous performances.
-The Bucks were a bad team yesterday as well, shooting 32 percent from the field overall with 15 turnovers. Luckily they were saved by some good free throw shooting, and terrific offensive rebounding for the final three quarters (21 total on the afternoon) which led to them taking 20 more field goal attempts than the Green.
-77 points was a season low for the C’s but I can’t imagine how much lower it would have been if Kendrick Perkins did not step up with 26 points and 12 boards including 9 on the offensive glass. Doc had a smart gameplan to get Perkins involved and take advantage of the Bucks lack of talent up front from the opening tip.
Perk used a nice array of post moves and attacked the hoop without hesitation on pick and rolls. He seemed to gain more confidence as this contest moved along and single handedly kept the team in the game for much of the final frame. A performance like this, especially on the road is certainly one of the few encouraging things to take away form this one.
-Can’t underestimate how much of a detriment Leon Powe fouling out with 5:16 has on the C’s down the stretch. When asked about it postgame Doc commented how Leon wasn’t having a good game which was true (only 5 points, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers) and that caused his decision to keep Powe in the game when he picked up his 5th foul in the 3rd quarter.
I am skeptical of Doc’s line of thinking here. Yes Powe wasn’t having another career night but when you only have three healthy big men on your roster, how do you not take Leon out there with 5 fouls? On a night where your best three players shot 22 percent from the field, could the Celts have used some inside production from number 0 in the 4th quarter? I say yes.
Leon also did a very nice job of containing Charlie Villanueva for much of the afternoon, but once Leon fouled out he went off for 11 of his 19 points in the final 12 minutes. It was foolish for Leon to pick up those fouls so quickly but the fact he was still in the game at that point to pick up his sixth bugs me a lot.
More thoughts after the jump.
-Solid showings by Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore. Both hit a couple jumpers in the flow of the offense and are appearing less lost in the Celtics defensive scheme. Still baby steps at this point but nice to see nonetheless.
If you want to beat the Celtics, it’s pretty clear what you have to do: play them on a Sunday afternoon. This team has lost three straight matinees and four of their last five overall. The Celtics would be wise to bribe the NBA scheduling committee from giving them any Sunday afternoon playoff games.
One final thought on this one. The C’s are really missing KG’s intensity on the floor at the end of these games. The Celtics have pulled off some admirable comebacks the past few weeks in his absence but have failed to execute down the stretch to complete them. His fire, energy and leadership that the rest of the team seems to feed off has been lacking at the end of games for this team.
When KG is on the floor everyone is held under the microscope to fulfill their assignments on both ends of the court. As the Celtics have struggled to execute their plays down the stretch in the past few games, it makes me wonder if how much his presence (beyond a numbers standpoint) would have impacted these games. Luckily for us, it should only be a few more days until he returns to the lineup.