The Celtics have played four back to back games this year. During the 2nd half of those 4 back to backs, except for their game against Charlotte after the opener, they have looked flat out sluggish. The trend continued last night in Indiana, as The Pacers walked all over The C’s to the tune of 113 points. Danny Granger was…..well Danny Granger. Dhantay Jones was motivated by my preview apparently where I degraded his shooting abilities and exploded to the tune of 25 points.
Paul Pierce was the main culprit in Jones being so effective, clearly laboring on his knee while gutting it out after injuring it Friday night. Make no mistake though, the entire Celtic team were equal opportunity offenders in putting up arguably their worst defensive performance in The Big Three era.
The Pacers shot 53 percent from the field, a season high for a Celtic opponent as well as 50 percent from downtown. The Pacers were hot from the perimeter all night long, turning Jones and company into all-stars but make no mistake The Celtics were largely responsible for this explosion, giving the Pacers wide open looks that they were happy to knock down.
Before we get back to the C’s, a quick sidebar on The Pacers. After opening with three losses, they have won 4 straight games and I have to say I am impressed by this team, who in all honesty was an afterthought when the season began. They moved the ball with great precision last night to the tune of 31 assists on 40 baskets, an incredibly percentage.
The Celtics couldn’t match their energy and sense of urgency over the course of the night despite the fact Indy was shorthanded without big men Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster. Jim O’Brien has this team playing small ball in the meantime with their athletic lineup and he had them doing it well last night. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Pacers threaten for a playoff seed at the bottom of the East when all is said and done this year. More thoughts on this debacle, after the jump
Donny Marshall talked a bit in the postgame about what this team was lacking in this contest. Were the C’s overconfident in these games against inferior opponents? Lacking a sense of urgency? It seemed to be all of the above on Saturday. Athletic teams have given the C’s trouble in the past and last night it didn’t look like respected The Pacers outside shooting. Grant it, their season percentages indicate they shouldn’t have had to, but you can’t give your opponents countless opportunities over the course of the night and not pay for it. The C’s learned that the hard way last night.
I don’t want to go to overboard here in ripping the C’s for this loss. Perhaps some of the reason that most fans are so upset by the effort is because it is so uncharacteristic of this team to play so poorly defensively. So while the defensive effort may have been an aberration, the flaws this team has (age, athleticism) are becoming more readily apparent in the tail ends of these back to backs. Doc and company are going to have to do something to address these concerns against their more faster paced opponents as the year progresses. Luckily, the C’s have three days off right now to help right the ship.
A few bullets before we go:
–In the good news department for the game, The C’s at least addressed their rebounding deficiencies from Atlanta to the tune of a 43-34 edge over the Pacers to go along with 14 offensive boards. Perk and Shelden did most of the tough work down low, but it was good to see the big guys reestablish themselves after being embarrassed by The Hawks the night before on the glass.
–Only 2 three point attempts by Sheed last night. Naturally he missed both, but I hope this decreased number is not an isolated incident.
–15 free throws attempts for Dhantay Jones? Really? You know Paul Pierce was really hurting defensively with that number along with the -13 plus minus he put up when he was out there. Made it look like Doc should have just given him the night off.
–Joey Crawford may have it out for the C’s but Doc deserves his fair share of the blame for not keeping his cool in this one. He earned one of his the team’s 3 T’s of the night from Crawford, perhaps unfairly, but Doc has shown the tendency to provoke those kinds of technicals from officials a couple times a year and this was bad timing for it to happen. Still I hate entitled refs.
–Only 18 assists for the C’s. Despite scoring 104 points, they looked out of sync down the stretch offensively. They couldn’t keep pace (no pun intended) with Indiana’s firepower.
–Danny Granger really knows how to fill up a box score. The guy can do it all.
–Eddie House still can’t get it going from the outside. This may be the longest shooting funk he has had in a C’s uniform.