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Finding Positives in Despair

 

Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm, 1/30/10:

“There will not be a Big Ol’ Honkin’ LA-Boston post when LA creams them tomorrow…I doubt it will be competitive.”

Well, Matt was wrong. I don’t mean to pick on Matt; he’s one of the best hoops bloggers writers alive, and he knows the game as well as anyone writing about it. And this game doesn’t necessarily disprove his central contention—that the Celtics are too old to be competitive this season, and that they are not a championship-caliber team. After all, the Lakers beat the Celtics on what was, for LA, the 7th game of an eight-game road trip. 

But this game, this crushing Sunday afternoon loss, proved  two (positive) things. (Brian Robb will have more in a full post-game bullets post):

1) The Celtic defense from 2008 still exists. Whether it will exist often enough or long enough for the team to win a title remains unknown or perhaps even unlikely. But in this loss, the defense was absolutely spectacular. The fact that the Lakers shot 48 percent is a tribute to how freaking good that team is, as epitomized by Kobe’s game-winner. The C’s decision to overplay on Bryant and sometimes double him forced Boston’s defenders to cover even more of the court than usual on rotations, and they were up to it. Really, really up to it. 

The evidence: 16 LA turnovers for a team that takes care of the ball almost as well as any team in the league. Many came on tough cross-court or interior passes as the Lakers tried and failed to beat Boston’s rotations with quick passes. 

Again: The defense was spectacular. Do not lose sight of this when you see that LA shot 48 percent. 

2) This team, right now, is fatally flawed, and if it doesn’t correct this one flaw or at least mitigate it, they will not win the championship or the Eastern Conference. The flaw: Turnovers. They committed 18 more tonight, many of them inexcusably sloppy. The Lakers are a great defensive team, and they forced a few of those 18 turnovers. But too many came on careless passes. 

You could correctly point out that the Celtics won the championship ranking next-to-last in turnover rate in 2008, and they have the same ranking right now. 

But this Celtic team isn’t quite as good, athletic, healthy or consistent as that team. 

They need to clean this problem up if they want to win against the elite. 

Lots more tonight and tomorrow.

  • kehn

    Laker fan here – I may hate your team, but good game; this one made me nervous as hell. When you get all your guys healthy, it’ll be a very different team that will be a tough out in the Finals. Rondo was just hella impressive and the defensive rotations were there all afternoon for the Celts. See you in June.

  • celtics

    Zach, are you saying the chances of an 18th NBA championship is unrealistic

  • LAKERS FAN

    Champs over chumps.

    Enjoy the video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le5aIqn_MfE

  • john robles

    We sure looked like Chumps ……. For sure we need to make a move …. T. Allen as starter R. Allen off the bench……..Try something if not a trade …..

  • Idaho

    Not that anyone really follows my comments but to be honest in advertising I usually like the decision to put the ball in Pierce’s hands at the end of the game. However, not against Artest. Artest was owning Pierce today and I have to put this one on Doc Rivers for not recognizing the great defense Artest was playing and in this situation having Pierce start with the ball in the half court set was a bad idea. He could be involved in the play, but he was a t.o. waiting to happen dribbling the ball at the top of the key with Artest in his grill.

    2nd reason I give this loss to Doc… I know Ray got a great look but still, we are down one point. It doesn’t matter who is shooting that 3-point shot, a 15 footer from big baby is a higher percentage shot to win the game. Ray shouldn’t even have been at the 3 point line…the final seconds should have ticked off with the ball at the rim. That is just smart basketball putting the odds in your favor.

    I’m not panicking though. I think boston showed they still have it in them and had every reason to win that game. I was glad to see House bring something from the bench and Sheed get very few touches towards the end. I think if Baby doesn’t make the bad pass Boston retains enough momentum they don’t even have to come down to a last second shot in this one. Good game other than the L in the column.

    @ Zach, perkins got his customary moving screen.

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  • Jay P

    Typical asinine crap from LAKERS fan. Take a note from kehn up there, least he had something constructive to say.

    Anyone who watched this game saw a celtics team which flat out dominated the lakers for about 70% of this game. Flat out, dominated, defensively and offensively.

    The doubling/rotation D kept Kobe in check, Rondo ran an absolute clinic with the screen and roll, and the lakers had 0 answer for him.

    But they failed to put it away, come crunch time they came up short, again. I don’t want to mentioned the offensive call on Pierce, but honestly that performance by Artest deserved an academy award… Oh my Pierce’s pinky made contact, I can totally see how that would have enough forced to send a 235 pound guy sailing 11 feet… give me a break.

    But, refs don’t win or lose games, so I wont blame that one play, and hell it’s all hypothetical from there, maybe they get the stop anyway, and that last shot from kobe is a buzzer beater. Who knows, doesn’t matter.

    Bottom line, it was a good game, and the Celtics showed they can still hang with the best team in the league, and at time, just flat out out played them.

    Come June, Daniels gets back, the team is healthier, they’ll be ready to go. Their right on the hunt, I don’t care what anyone says.

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