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Celtics Lose: Pierce’s Jekyll and Hyde Impression

 

Celtics 105, Nuggets 114

ESPN RecapRoundball Mining CompanyDenver Stiffs

The Celtics essentially dug themselves a first quarter hole of which they could not dig themselves out.  The Nuggets saw a road weary team and eagerly pounced, starting out aggressive and hot.  They enjoyed a 37-19 lead by the end of the first quarter and left the Celtics searching for answers.  Much like any other defensive minded team, the C’s found it on the defensive end.

The C’s played inspired basketball for the next two quarters but, as usual, offensive ineptitude and careless turnovers prohibited the Celtics from sustaining the efficient play.  Despite the box score reading minuses across the board leading to a near double-digit loss, there were quite a few positive take-aways from today’s game.  However, like with any up-and-down game, the C’s had their fair share of negatives as well.

Let’s discuss them, in bullet form:

  • Paul Pierce should win an Oscar today for his portrayal of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was clear from the get-go that Pierce really understood the nuances of the characters and really made Robert Louis Stevenson’s vision come to life.  It’s not easy to grasp all the minutiae when it comes to fleshing out such dynamic characters, but Pierce is a professional.  The normally steadfast offensive threat relegated himself to a pedestrian 5 points on 2-10 shooting on the offensive side of the floor, but then followed up each missed jump shot with a spectacular defensive play.  Pierce’s defensive prowess is illustrated best in his having a season high in blocked shots (4).  These weren’t resounding blocks that sent fans to their feet and caused commentators to make frivolous Lebron, Howard, and Mutombo comparisons.  These were blocks made by possible by years of study and a true mastering of the art of anticipation.  Pierce’s play was so wondrous on the defensive end it was really perplexing to witness such a %$#*& terrible display on offense….but I digress.
  • Free throws proved costly today. The normally reliable free throw shooting team shot 13 of 24 from the charity strip which calls into question the generosity of the line’s namesake.  Conversely, the Celtics also played “hack-a-Nugget” all game, committing eight more fouls than Denver (29-21).  The officiating was actually pretty solid all night despite Joey Crawford leading the three blind mice around the court.  The bottom line is that the Celtics can’t shoot a shade over 50% from the line and expect to win against a top team.
  • Did someone ask for positivity? Only 13 turnovers today- two committed by Rondo were also easily avoidable.  One in particular was especially troubling because it came as a result of a no-look pass that went right to Kenyon Martin.  To make matters worse, this no-look came on a 3-1 fast break which could have ended in an easy lay up or opportunity to make amends at that devilish free throw line.  The other easily avoidable miscue came in the fourth quarter when Rondo tried to out-dribble Ty Lawson at the top of the arc and just miss-dribbled leading to a Lawson steal and lay up.  Rondo shouldn’t be trying to out-dribble anyone- unless it’s a big man that can’t recover in time to hinder a Rondo blow-by and squeaker off the glass (notably Chris Anderson today).  On the theme of positivity, the Celtics also shot 2 for 13 from deep- but three of those came on Rondo desperation heaves.  Two for ten isn’t great, but take away the three bricks from Rasheed and we’re talkin’ a passable 2 for 7.  What’s that?  You’re not buying it?   Aw Shucks!
  • Too much J.R. Smith. Down the stretch J.R. (my name is Earl) Smith made four threes that really put the freeze on any hope of a Celtic rally.  When this guy is on, his stroke is a thing of beauty.  He’s like a 6’5″ Eddie House; rest in (Green) peace.  On the other hand, when he’s off, it’s not news to any body but him.  He will shoot his team right out of the game.  He’ll lay bricks until the buzzer sounds and look up at a ten point deficit and ask, “what happened?”  He’ll keep shooting until every fan has left the building and the whole team has showered before he realizes the game is over and the Nuggets have lost.  Unfortunately, that did not happen this afternoon.
  • Glen Davis’ offensive rebounding is deceptive. Watching the rebounding numbers between these two teams end in a stalemate was a great sight to see.  It’s also nice to see Glen Davis grab four offensive rebounds, something he’s clearly being more aggressive in pursuing.  The unfortunate thing is that more often than not, the net gain from these big boards is nil.  Davis needs to either learn how to draw contact or pass out of the post after an offensive board. Davis continues to try and power a put-back up but his lack of lift really handicaps his effectiveness.  He is either not getting calls or clearly getting blocked, but either way, it’s hurting the team.  Personally, I don’t care if it’s either one.  I just don’t like seeing hard work go to waste- or perhaps more appropriately, get blocked back in the Celtics faces.  I don’t have the raw numbers right now, but I’m going to go back and check on the last four games and really see how many times Davis’ fails to get a successful put-back after an offensive rebound.
  • Nate Robinson was drastically needed in this game. Say what you want about the Nate Robinson trade, but his game was sorely needed in the third and fourth quarters.  He could have easily guarded Ty Lawson and ran the break with Rondo late in the game.  The Celtics could have the most athletic bench in the NBA if there was a way they could have pried Tyrus Thomas from Chicago for Brian Scalabrine and Sheldon Williams and paired him with Nate Robinson.  Ohhhh the possibilities.

All in all, I’ll take 3-1 on this road trip.  Pierce is still injured and they won three games without the full compliment of their banch.  Ray Allen also appears back and renewed, as I noted in Thursday’s Daily Dime, and provided Celtics fans today with another solid shooting night and a fearless dunk down the lane.  Speaking of dunks, Garnett’s alley oop in the lane among four white jerseys?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Signs of good things to come people.  I’ll take the loss, if it means Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are back.

  • hallik

    I am proud of this loss. (I know oxymoron) Down 18 after the 1st the Celts could have packed it in. Instead they did the opposite, playing hard nose “D” Got to give it up to them. KG’s block and Alley-Oop dunk got me out of my seat! I think we will be ok.
    *TA sucks at the line and on the fast break, cant shoot worth a shit! but….

  • http://politicaldeathmatch.org Harrison Bergeron

    One positive not mentioned: KG looked a lot more like KG than he has in a long time. Not there yet, but he seems to keep getting a little better every game, giving us all good reason to hope he’ll be his old self by the playoffs, more or less.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    entertaining game. hope to see them in the finals.

    something i didn’t really understand. doc looked like a genius for leaving perk in with 4 fouls as he immediately got 2 big baskets and stops on D. but then he only went back in with like 4 minutes remaining and the game almost gone. thoughts?

  • Berkcelt

    Speaking of awesome defense, I thought TA was a big reason the Cs got back into it in the 2nd quarter. He was all over the place with a ton of deflections and steals.

  • Brendan Jackson

    @DDTK
    Perk is either not trusted to, or cannot create his own shot. Whenever the C’s are down late in games, Doc takes the “offense over defense” approach. I don’t know how I feel about this. Sheed hasn’t really shown he can be a clutch player this season so I don’t really a see a net gain with tsacrificing Perk’s D for Sheed’s O.

    I am interested in seeing how Nate Robinson will change the rotation. The Celtics lack guys that can shoot from outside and create their own shot. Robinson takes care of both of those things. Perhaps his contribution will also have a ripple effect on Perk’s playing time as well. I guess we all will see soon enough.

  • rob

    this game just got me more excited for nate. Can’t wait until tuesday!

  • Zeus

    I think that we tend not to appreciate what KG and Allen does and go very easy on Pierce and Rondo. Pierce has been messing games for the Greens so much this season with lousy selfish offence and Rondo is not a factor in the fourth quarter.. its depressing when teams sag off him and he cant take advantage.. Allen is probably the most integral part of the offence when u take both the first and second units.. and thats y he has has been playing the biggest mins in the team.. yet we talk of trading him considering him the weakest link.. unless Rondo improves his shooting.. which shd hav happened by now.. he cannot and will not anchor this team.. Celtics will be mediocre if he gets to run the team. KG inspite of his age and health problems plays competent and unselfish ball… Pierce might be younger.. but it looks like he is the ones that is out of gas.. and should be traded..

  • Zeus

    and Glenn Davis i dont think is a gd fit right now.. if he cant finish around the rim like wat happened over the last few games… he is a liability..

  • sj

    @brendean jackson , im not sure if its just my computer but if yhu go on the website tha celtics hub headlines they dont update for instance this is tha latest one TrueHoop Network: Celtics Hub
    * It’s Official: Nate Robinson Is A Boston Celtic
    so i have to click tht and keep going to tha bottom and hit next entry next entry over and over agen to get to tha newest one if yhu control tht can yhu please fix it ? and can yhu also fix tha starters and put who backs them up correctly because it hasnt been updated .

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @sj: That’s an ESPN thing, and they’re on it and trying to fix it. It happens now and then.

    In the alternative you could just type celticshub.com into your browser and check the site without going through TrueHoop/ESPN.

  • Jason

    Pierce: stinking up the joint. Who is making the decision for him to take isolations? Seriously, who is to blame for this? It’s freaking outrageous. Yet, somehow very good D. Net negative though.

    Ray: Glad to see him back. Back to the Seattle days really, being aggressive, not just shooting from deep. Despite his very good percentages, he has missed 5 or 6 wide open 3s the last 4 games. It’s rather ridiculous.

    Rondo: I don’t know. He can do whatever he wants, but sometimes chooses not to. You saw at the end when he just blew by guys for layups. You’re saying he couldn’t have been doing that from the start? Seriously? This must be a coaching decision, another that baffles me. I’m sure there’s interest in getting guys involved, in rhythm, but you don’t need to run specific plays for that. You don’t need to say we are going to run a double screen to get Ray a J. Rondo isn’t selfish. He will find the open guy. He can break down a D. Score. Get guys in foul trouble. Get all four guys involved. Just let him create. This is the entire Spurs offense. It’s the entire Suns offense. It’s the entire Hornets offense. Rondo could do this, but no for some reason they go long stretches where Rondo is just a top-of-the-key handler and everyone else tries to make things happen. He’s the very best one at making things happen, but is not being used. So frustrating. Another reason I think Doc is going to cost this team playoff wins. Also, some of the TOs were just brutal. And while he’s a jittery defender, he’s simply not staying in front of his man enough. His counterparts got into the lane fairly frequently. C’mon Rondo. Yet, he still ends up with 15 and 11. Amazing. If he tried, it would have been 25 and 15.

    Perk: neutral. Not bad. Not great.

    KG: There are signs the real KG is coming back. Freaking love it. Not there yet, but promising stuff.

    Quis: Freaking love his one-on-one D. LOVE IT. And he comes up with 1 or 2 of those slithery, unbelievable plays every game. Unfortunately, I was expecting 4 or 5 every game. Very curious to see the cascade effects Nate brings to the second unit.

    BBD: Great help D, great effort, great offensive rebounding. So freaking sick of him getting stuffed. Equally sick of the refs giving him ZERO respect. He’s banged all over the place, never a call.

    TA: For all the flashes, he’s just, ugh. Ugh, that’s all I can say. He’s just not worth it. He’s completely out of control. I’m scared when he has the ball.

    Sheed: Improving, but barely. Stop with the 3s. Please. The guy does whatever he wants in the post, which is awesome to see. Yet he still somehow misses a fair number. Very aggravating.

    This game had it’s good points, but still sucked. The team at least is showing some life. Pierce needs to sit out and heal, otherwise he’s useless. Rondo still needs to learn consistency (or the Doc needs to allow him the opp). Just those two things alone I think would bring this team back to great status. Let’s hope the recent progress continues.

    Refs: atrocious as usual. No calls for Pierce, Ray, BBD, Perk. Lots of calls for Melo, Billups and freaking Chris Anderson. Sickening. I despise refs so much.

  • Idaho

    I don’t know how a guy who only plays 17 minutes and gets 7 REBOUNDS (highest on the team) is a LIABILITY???? I don’t care how many times you get stuffed. Not to mention all of the possessions he keeps alive with his tip-outs which is one thing that is underestimated in Baby’s game and single-handedly (pun intended) won game 3 (I believe) versus Cleveland two years ago.

    If Rondo played half as hard as BBD he would be a true all-star. This guy works his heart out in a league of cool-factor diva’s (not saying Rondo is a diva yet but….you know what I’m saying). You better hope BBD is healthy for post season bc he is boston’s only hope for 2nd chance shots which are underestimated in knock-down drag-out playoff series.

    BBD continues to get better and is figuring out how to get around the swats. He is developing a turn-around jumper and his baby hook shot is looking better all the time.

    Zach,

    You do bring up a good point about Robinson. I wonder how much it will help their TO woes. If Robinson can bring those down and nothing else, then I will support the trade – as much as I love Eddie. Not being a great distributor (Robinson) worries me but sometimes the guy who isn’t threading the needle also isn’t causing needless TO’s. I still think Rondo’s untimely TO’s are his biggest weakness (other than taking plays off and gambling). Almost every close game I watch he has a TO in a clutch transition opportunity to shift momentum and ends up in a 5-point shift the other way. You have to be the head of the snake and it drives me crazy that some of you are calling for him to have the ball more in close-game situations when he has proven time and time again he is not the head of the snake at the end of the game.

    Also, anyone else think it was ironic that the announcer mentioned that Boston’s biggest problem tonight was the inability to hit the 3??? You will be missed House. Luckily, Ray ray is playing well enough to minimize your absence!!!

  • Dan

    I do think this was a ‘good’ loss. Denver is a top team and for us to fight back out of a 20 point hole is a good sign. A couple other positives from here:

    -KG is looking more and more like old KG. His help defense was good today, highlighted but a nice block. I think Nene is seriously underrated, and KG (and Perk) did an acceptable job on him. If him and Ray and keep playing even this good, once Pierce is back the Celtics will be a very good team.

    - The defense was tremendous. After seeing how the Nuggets shredded Cleveland a few days ago, you’ve got to be happy with this. Until JR went crazy from deep, this was a winnable game.

    The only negative is seeing ‘Sheed go to work down low. He’s almost automatic when he posts up – but its as if he’ll only do it just enough to show you what you’re not getting. Infuriating. If he’s going to keep jacking up bricks down the stretch, Doc needs to put Perkins in. He won’t create his own shot but him and Rondo have a real nice chemistry together.

    - Perk

  • Jay P

    I don’t take this loss that hard honestly, the 4th of a tough 4-game swing that included LA, and you’re in Denver, where they have been all but unbeatable this year. The celtics showed some resolve to get back in it after that monster 1ast quarter, they would have very easily just called it a take, and tuck tailed back to Boston. But they didn’t, they fought hard and made it a game. Denver just has too much that day, when you got a guy like Smith who basically could have punted the ball from the baseline and it would have went in, what can you do? It was just their day.

  • George G

    PP has became a lazy player lately and RW has to play the post more. All the money they’re making should motivate them more and be more profesionals.

  • Hoy

    It’s obvious that Pierce’s terrible offensive game yesterday was due to his injured thumb on his shooting hand not due to some sort of recently acquired laziness.

  • matt

    Um…Pierce is playing injured…duh

  • Jason

    Maybe George used the wrong word, but it’s still Paul’s fault. If he can’t shoot, he shouldn’t get the ball on an iso and then shoot a fadeaway with a hand in his face. He shouldn’t do it once never mind multiple times. He should drive, but he can’t do that either because of his knee and foot so he lazily settles for a contested J. But, basically, he shouldn’t be on the court at all. Being tough is one thing, hurting your team is another.

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