I wrote a lot of bullets about this game at halftime and more than 75 percent of them were positive comments about the C’s. Paul Pierce looked somewhat gimpy but looked efficient as ever on the offensive end. Sheed was containing Dirk and also limited his touches. Rondo was getting out and running, giving the team plenty of fast break opportunities. The ball was moving well offensively (15 assists on 22 baskets). Eddie made a couple jumpers and Ray looked to find his rhythm as well. The C’s were winning the turnover battle and things were looking rosy as the C’s headed into the tunnel with a 9 point lead.
Then the 2nd half started…..and the C’s turned into their worst defensive performance in a half that I can remember since the beginning of the Big 3 era. The Mavs came out of the locker room looking hungry, aggressive and the C’s just had no answer. I have seen a lot of trainwrecks that were more pleasant to watch than these 24 minutes.
So how exactly did this happen? And where do you begin to look to hone in on the problems tonight and potential solutions? Let’s try to unravel this situation.
First, let’s give some credit to where credit is due and that goes to the entire Dallas offense. For as pathetic as the C’s defensive effort was out there, the Mavs took advantage of literally EVERY opportunity the C’s gave them. Open jumpers, opportunities in transition, taking advantage of mismatches (Dirk vs. Big Baby) and get offense from unlikely sources (Erick Dampier) those guys had all their weapons firing after a very out of sync first half for them.
Jason Kidd was a maestro with the ball on his way to 13 points and 17 assists to go along with some timely 3 point shooting (3 of 3 from deep). Dirk was vintage Dirk against Boston, murdering the C’s from mid range while getting to the line plenty, exploding in the 2nd half to give himself 37 points on the night. The rest of the starters chipped in with some efficient shooting lines and you had an offensive performance reminiscent of the C’s massacre of Jersey last Wednesday in the Meadowlands….except this time the C’s got a taste of their own medicine.
So with all that credit out of the way for Dallas, let’s get into how bad this defensive effort was for the C’s. The Mavs shot 57.4 percent tonight from the field. That’s the 2nd highest FG Percentage allowed in the Big 3 era by this Celtic squad. (h/t Zach Lowe). 18 points was the overall spread in the 2nd half in favor of the Mavs but it felt it might as well been 30 points.
There is really no person in particular that stands out to take the brunt of the blame, as this truly was a indefensible effort by the troops. The pick and roll defense, the lack of switching, failing to close out on open jump shooters, whatever mistake the team could have made, they appeared to do it. I could go through a laundry list of deficiencies right now, but I will leave it for Brendan to take care of that further. Just know this was the worst defensive effort I remember seeing out of this team. There was no life, no energy and no sense of urgency to respond and step up the intensity. To have a team shoot 65-70 percent against you in the 2nd half in your own building is embarrassing and you can bet Doc will let them know about that tonight.
To compound the C’s defensive problems was a shoddy performance on the offensive end. The sharp ball movement and transition opportunities we saw in the 2nd quarter faded, as the underrated Dallas D stepped it up and lured the C’s into taking tough shots and making foolish passes.
The C’s had 15 assists on 22 FG’s in the 1st half but were left with just 10 in the 2nd half, with a couple of those coming in garbage time when this one was long over.
A couple quick bullets before we hand this over to Brendan
That’s it for me. Brendan will have much more later on. Luckily for the C’s they have Detroit on Wednesday night to help them pick up the pieces, but with their 7 home losses on the year already on the year, being more than they had over all of last year, it’s time to ask how much are you worried about this team’s performance at the Garden?