“Oh, savor this Tony Allen performance. Good for him. Bring that effort every night, and the C’s have a weapon we didn’t anticipate going into this season.” – Zach Lowe
Boy, how the tables have turned. Usually I’m the one writing knee-jerk reactions to great performances or calling for increased roles after one or two good games. Hell, I even thought TA’s ability to get to the line could have made the difference in last year’s playoffs.
This kind of praise from Zach Lowe is unprecedented. Zach always keeps things calmly in perspective, never ready to crown anyone anything. He (and Zach, feel free to jump in and correct me if I’m wrong) doesn’t believe Bill Walker is anything more than an oft-injured end-of-the-bench guy. He didn’t believe Michael Sweetney could have helped this team. He doesn’t believe Shelden Williams’ play this year warrants any competition for minutes when Big Baby comes back.
Have I mentioned that Zach is seldom wrong about these kinds of things? That’s why I was shocked when I read that quote from him this morning. Maybe I’m misinterpreting it or over-analyzing it or both, but calling TA a “weapon” is a bit hyperbolic. Sure, if he plays like he did last night every game he would be a weapon. He’d also be in the conversation for sixth man of the year based on how efficiently he scored those 15 points and for his steady defensive game.
This is why I can’t get on this bandwagon. Not yet at least. I’ve spent too much time getting my hopes up, defending TA against the naysayers that said low basketball IQ is far worse than subpar athleticism (the classic TA versus Scal conundrum). I’m done. Give me the next 25 games where TA is involved in “Plays of the Year,” where he has more pluses than minuses, and where his play does not cost the Celtics a single game and I’ll call him a weapon. I’ll call him anything you want me to call him. But for right now, I’m still calling him Tony Allen, the most frustrating player to watch in the NBA.
Now that I’ve brought everyone back down to Earth (or tried to), I’ll address another thing that’s been bothering me, starting with another quote from my other esteemed colleague:
“Re: the lethargic effort in the end of the 3rd quarter and beginning of the 4th….I’m not that concerned. We know that the 5 man bench unit can’t create its own offense and they got complacent in a 30 point game. It’s December in the NBA, it happens. I’m just glad Doc didn’t let it get any closer than he did.” – Brian Robb
Brian’s not that concerned (and I knew this already because we watched the game together. Cute, I know.) but I can’t help but be concerned. Just as much as crowning TA a potential player to be counted on going forward this season after two games is an exaggerated reaction, so is being concerned about the C’s letting bad teams chip away at solid leads. Still I’d rather be apart to the latter than the former.
In two games there have been two runs made by the opposing team against a five man unit with at least three Celtics’ bench players. The only reason this isn’t more of a cause for concern is because the C’s are 1 and 1 and the loss against Philly was still deemed an aberration- a fluke where a bad team got lucky. I believe the Sixers shouldn’t have even been in a position to get lucky.
“We know that the 5 man bench unit can’t create its own offense.” That, right there, is both scary and bothersome. San Antonio has Manu Ginobili. Dallas has Jason Terry. Atlanta has Jamal Crawford. The Lakers have Lamar Odom. The Celtics have…Eddie House? Tony Allen? Marquis Daniels? Glen Davis when healthy? Don’t get me wrong, the Celtics have a solid bench- even one of the better benches in the league. Still, not having a bench player that can create offense or a multi-dimensional scorer off the bench is troublesome. This essentially means that the starters will be counted on to build enough of a lead so the bench can just either trade baskets or step up their defense to keep the margin the same. So far, in the last two games, they haven’t been able to do either.
Two games is two games. Within those games we’ve seen TA bring around some hearts and minds and we’ve seen the rest of the Celtics’ bench bring other hearts and minds (mostly my heart and mind) the other way around.
Let’s be real. There’s nothing wrong with the Celtics. Last night was a much deserved blowout brought on by exciting, inspired play. Still, complacency is a disease that runs rampant in this league. It was only about six weeks ago where the C’s were reeling and some of us (myself included) joked about how blowouts were boring. Then the C’s when on a little skid and all the talk of 72-10 or bust, well, busted. I won’t make that mistake again. Let’s enjoy last night because a win is a win and a behind-the-back pass to Tony Allen, who in turn put Corey Brewer on a poster is what it is. But I implore you, keep willing this team to get better. Keep being unsatisfied.
It’s a long season, and I won’t be happy until I get kicked out of Cheers in Faneuil Hall again.