“This just in, where to begin? Grin and bear it, it’s bare and grim.”
After almost 24 hours of digesting last night’s loss, all I can muster is a terrible song lyric from a terrible 90s band.
I’ve read every recap and they all say the same thing: the Celtics are old, gave lackadaisical effort, and played unexpectedly bad defense. Rondo reached too much instead of staying in front of Jason Kidd and allowed Kidd to dish out 17 assists, an impressive number even in Kidd’s heyday.
But I’m not interested in what that means for last night’s game. It’s over, done with, and filed haphazardly in to the loss column. I am more interested in what the C’s can do to look forward, what they can learn from this loss…
…thus, I’ve looked at last night’s game in context with some of the other C’s losses and the following are my findings:
1) What is with the third quarter?
The Celtics give up the most points on average in the third quarter than any other quarter (HoopsStats.com). What accounts for this, I can only begin to speculate: if they have a lead at halftime they get complacent, if they sit too much they lose focus and get cold, Doc Rivers’ halftime speech is uninspiring, the C’s bench gets a lot of run in the third quarter if there is a substantial lead.
I do not. But I do know it that it has to be improved upon. There are a lot of opportunities for games to be won in the third quarter and starters to be rested well in the fourth.
2) What is with the C’s playing poorly at home?
Wasn’t the exact opposite a problem in the playoffs two years ago? Oh yeah, it was. The Celtics could not find a way to win consistently on the road in the 2008 playoffs and have come out this year and seem to have put that problem to bed, posting one of the leagues best road records. Unfortunately, they’ve awakened a new problem, unforeseeable before the season: the Celtics can’t win a prime-time home game.
The Celtics are 2-4 in Friday night home games with losses against Atlanta, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. Seven out of their twelve losses have come at home. So what gives? Are they complacent at home? Do they have two many distractions? Are the fans bad fans? I’d say two out of three have some merit.
It’s always nice to work closer to home. You drive to the arena yourself, you can sleep in your own bed, hell, you can even simulate the game on your Sega Genesis or whatever you kids play today.
3) Practice makes perfect.
Doc was quoted after the Bulls game as saying, “practice is the last thing we need” and there is some merit to what he’s saying. These are veteran guys and without imitating Iverson for the umteenth time, I think an actual practice wouldn’t benefit the C’s old legs. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be thinking about the games, do walk-throughs, and mentally prepare themselves.
If your the Celtics, you have to know that Dirk Nowitzki hits any open shot you give him. There is no excuse for the lack of hard close-outs and intelligent help defense. Practice is also not cut and dry in terms of who needs it and who doesn’t. Last night, Big Baby looked like he could have used a few minutes over the three day lay off to discuss how to defend Dirk. Maybe just a few. Oh and it may have been beneficial to remind Rasheed Wallace that Dirk really gets abused in the paint by long power forwards that can shoot bank shots over him but defends the perimeter really well…especially against shooters as inconsistent as ‘Sheed.
4) Rondo gets up for some and lets go of others.
It’s been well speculated that Rajon Rondo gets himself more pumped up for games against the likes of Chris Paul than guys like Jarrett Jack- and for a lot of reasons that stands to reason. At the end of the day, regardless of the outcome or the way either PG plays, Rondo is still better than Jarrett Jack, still better than Jason Kidd, and still better than Mike Conley. It’s only natural that Rondo would have a little extra motivation when playing the Chris Paul’s, Deron Williams’, and Steve Nash’s of the world.
It seemed like Rondo thought if he continued to just out run Jason Kidd, Kidd’s weathered legs would buckle under the demand. They didn’t and he dished out 17 assists while Rondo continuously went for his patented reach around steal attempt which yielded few positive results.
5) Some guys can match up really well against the C’s.
These are mostly guys who fall under the “match up nightmare for any team” and “gonna get his” categories. Still, the C’s have a huge disadvantage when trying to defend more mobile power forwards like Dirk, Durant, and Stoudemire. I don’t even see this changing much when KG gets back.
The bottom line is, I don’t see things changing much when KG gets back overall unless he proves he can play at the same level he did in 2008. Until then, C’s will still struggle in the same unconventional ways as they did last night against the Mavericks- and I’ll still get terrible 90s pop songs stuck in my head as punishment.