What? You were expecting a blowout? Not with these Boston Celtics. Right now, you take what you can get with this squad and a road victory out west, where the team has struggled mightily against inferior opponents (0-2 in California before tonight) has not been a given. In fact, to be honest, nothing has been a given for this team in the last 2 months.
All that considered, you take the win if you are the Celtics, but while the defense stood its ground for the final 3 quarters tonight, holding the Kings to 60 points in those 36 minutes, it was the C’s offense or lack there of, when it mattered that made a lasting impression on this one. It was the kind of play that should make Danny Ainge think twice about deciding to hold pat on Thursday at the trade deadline.
It’s late so we will go rapid fire here with some bullets before dissecting this one more tomorrow morning…ahem later today.
* Let’s start with the good. The Celtics shot 37.5 percent on the road and won a game. That’s impressive, and it also means the defense had to be there all night, which outside of the first quarter, it was. There were lapses here and there, (Rajon Rondo giving Tyreke Evans an uncontested 3 with a minute remaining comes to mind) but all in all the effort was there throughout. While the offense may have stalled in the 2nd half, the D stood firm and gave the C’s the opportunity, along with some timely choked free throws by The Kings to pull this out.
* The bench played a carbon copy of the terrific 2nd quarter they put in last week in New Orleans to pull the starters out of a back and forth game, and build a lead. Big Baby was everywhere, Rasheed was doing work down low, Eddie couldn’t miss from deep, it was a joy to watch. Lightening didn’t strike twice in the 2nd half with this squad offensively, but they still held the line defensively. A terrific effort by the 2nd unit, whose efforts ultimately carried over to the W.
* Only 13 turnovers tonight. That’s a number I can live with. For once, the C’s bad offensive effort couldn’t be attributed to their lack of handle with the ball, though their 3rd quarter showed a couple sloppy passes and offensive fouls we’ve become accustomed to.
* That’s the good news about the offense. The bad? The starters looked terrible for the majority of this one. Hopefully, we can chalk it up to “a bad shooting night” but there is something else off with this unit right now. Tommy Heinsohn was hammering the guys for a lack of timing, pace, you name it in the post game. When the C’s win and that’s the thing Tommy is harping on, you know something is out of whack. It has been for sometime with this unit, a combination of Perk slumping, Rondo’s tentativeness, KG’s health, etc. it just is all wrong right now with this unit. There was no attacking in the 2nd half in transition, just uninspired half court sets. Scoring 38 points in the 2nd half, 6 of which came on free throws in the final minute, against one of the league worst defensive teams isn’t going to get the job done. They were lucky to escape tonight.
* The C’s also had a real problem finishing around the rim all night and 11 blocks by the home team had a lot to do with that. They attacked the C’s aging core aggressively as the C’s tried to finish and caused problems thanks to the C’s lack of confidence (Rondo) or lack of athleticism (KG, Baby,) around the hole. Quisy missed a couple bunnies too, but that hopefully was just rust.
* Eddie House waged a nice campaign against trade rumors involving his name with 4 big 3 pointers tonight. I’d hate to see the guy go.
* Ray Allen had a nice rhythm going for a few possessions in the 3rd quarter but that was it on all in all another down night. 5 of 15 shooting for 15 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover.
* Kudos to Sheed for showing the most hustle he has this year. For the first 3 quarters, he and KG did a great job cleaning up the glass and the big fella even chipped in with 3 blocks to go along with his 17 points and 5 boards. Still took 4 3’s but I can live with that given how much time he spent down low.
* Minute totals were perfect tonight, with no starter going over 33 minutes. Grant it, no one deserved to play more than that anyway out of the starting 5 but at least Doc is sticking to his guns on it.
* Nice end of game management by Doc as well, fouling multiple times up 3 in the closing seconds, making it virtually impossible for the Kings to tie it up.
* Kings shot 2 of 8 from the free throw line in the 4th. Yikes.
* Tyreke Evans is going to be a scary player for a long time to come. The rest of the team? Some flashes, but they got a long way to go.
* Reason # 235 you know KG is hobbling: He makes Jason Thompson look like a beast defensively. JT may also have one of the ugliest jumpers, I have ever seen. Naturally, he made a couple tonight.
* Kings shot better from deep (45 percent on 9/20) than from the field (38 percent).
That’s it for me. Much more to come tomorrow as we keep you updated on the rumor mill here at Celtics Hub.