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And Gino Danced: C’s 104, Bobs 80

 

ESPN RecapQueen City HoopsRufus on Fire

Pace: 87 possessions (very slow)

Offensive Efficiency: 119.5 points/100 possessions (off the charts)

Defensive Efficiency: 91.2 points allowed/100 possessions (off the charts)

Thumbnail: For a night, all was well. The C’s blew out Charlotte for the third time in three meetings this season behind red hot three-point shooting (10-of-16 overall, 10-of-12 before garbage time) and a sticky D that denied Charlotte its first option all night. Charlotte’s four main perimeter players shot 10-of-36, and without an outside threat to deal with, Boston swarmed the paint and held Charlotte to 36 percent shooting. The starters rested the entire 4th quarter.

The C’s have now outscored Charlotte 304-229 in three games for an average victory margin of 25 points per. The C’s will have to finish at least 3rd to get the Bobs in the first round.

Recap: On nights like tonight, when the Bobcats can’t muster any perimeter game, this team is just easy to guard. The Bobcats went 0-of-9 from three-point range tonight. That was just the 10th game this season leaguewide in which a team hasn’t hit a three-pointer, and, incredibly, two of those games are Charlotte 0-fers against Boston.

As I mentioned above, the Bobs four main perimeter threats—Stephen Jackson, Ray Felton, Stephen Graham (note: not an actual threat) and D.J. Augustin—hit just 10 of their 36 shots. Felton and Jackson between them made just three shots.

Look: Charlotte is a bad offensive team to begin with. They can’t shoot three-pointers (34 percent as a team), and they’re 24th in offensive efficiency. Take away two of their three “best” inside players (Tyson Chandler and Nazy Mohammed) and what passes for their perimeter game, and you’re suddenly playing the Nets. (Wait: Do I have to stop making fun of the Nets after Saturday?)

The Hornets scored 46 points in the paint, 26 on foul shots and…8 from elsewhere on the court. Nate Robinson outscored the Bobcats from outside the paint in 6:47 of play in the first half.

But wait: Let’s hit some positives, shall we?

Boston’s D had something to do with this. The C’s gave Felton and Augustin nothing to work with on screen/rolls. Rondo and Nate Robinson both did a nice job chasing over screens without giving up much ground, and as a result, the C’s big men guarding the screener rarely had to jump out to cut off penetration. Instead, the bigs were able to quickly return to the roll man after briefly sagging back to cut off Felton/Augustin.

For the most part, the bigs did not have to jump out and show, which meant there weren’t as many high-stress, long-distance rotations to worry about.

And Jackson just never got in the game. Ray Allen did hounded him around screens and got low, into Jackson’s chest when Jackson made the catch. Also: Stack Jack became unnerved after picking up his 2nd foul with 1:42 to go in the 1st quarter, and he never really got back into the game. He stopped attacking the hoop (just two shots at the rim), and without Jack’s creativity, this team is just lost.

But when the Bobs did attack the rim? The C’s were there all night—arms in passing lanes, 8 shot blocks (their 4th-highest total this season) and a willingness to be physical.

A very nice defensive performance. Those happen a bit more often against Charlotte, but we’ll take it.

Bullets:

• Ray Allen attempted two shots tonight. That’s just the 3rd time in Ray’s career he has finished a game with two or fewer attempts, according to Basketball Reference. His career low is one shot attempt, and that happened in a game against Utah in ’06. Foul trouble + blowout = Rest for Ray = Me Happy.

• Here’s an optimistic way to look at tonight’s game: You could take it as proof that the C’s problems stem from a lack of focus and motivation the playoffs will cure.

Evidence: The C’s were up 38-21 with 9:30 to go in the 2nd quarter when the team began making the kinds careless mistakes it must eliminate in the post-season—the kind of mistakes you can’t even imagine a good team making in the playoffs.

The C’s coughed the ball up five times in a 3:25 span. Here were those five turnovers:

(9:11) After a Gerald Wallace basket, Rasheed Wallace throws an inbounds pass to Boris Diaw. Boris Diaw plays for Charlotte.

(7:31) Marquis Daniels drives and loses the ball out of bounds. Hey, it happens.

(7:01) Glen Davis drives to the basket at a speed he can’t handle, gets caught under the rim and, as he falls out of bounds, throws a desperation pass out to the perimeter. D.J. Augustin steals it and misses a transition lay-up.

(6:37) Rajon Rondo, inbounding under Charlotte’s basket, throws an inbounds pass to D.J. Augustin. D.J. Augustin plays for the Bobcats. Augustin dribbles the length of the court and makes a lay-up.

(5:39) Kendrick Perkins fumbles the ball on the left block/lets Boris Diaw knock it away. Hey, it happens.

Look, I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but this is sort of pathetic, and Charlotte had cut the lead to 40-35 by the time the C’s got right. Throwing away two inbounds passes? Come on, guys. You have to believe greater care will be taken in April and May.

The Celtics should have won this game by 40.

• Stephen Graham is not the sort of person you want attempting 12 shots in a game.

• Nate Robinson hit his first four three-pointers, meaning he was on an 8-of-9 streak from deep before missing a couple in garbage time. His 1st-quarter buzzer-beater—a rainbow over Ty Thomas—was ridiculous.

• But here’s what Nate is going to have learn now that he’s playing games that matter: He can’t get carried away with himself. After that wonderful finish to the 1st quarter, he opened the 2nd with an ill-advised pull-up three in transition (he made it, but it was a terrible shot). On the ensuing defensive possession, Nate lunged out to pressure D.J. Augustin 28-feet from the hoop, and Augustin blew by him, got into the lane and missed an open runner.

Nate: You’re on a real team now. No need to gun for highlight plays. Just do your job.

• Welcome back, Truth. 27 points on 13 shots for Pierce, and the C’s turned to Pierce to right the ship when Charlotte got to within 42-41 in the 2nd quarter. Pierce hit a three and then a driving lay-up (sandwiched around a KG jumper) to restore some cushion.

• The C’s also ran a nice little play early in the game to get Pierce going (and they ran it again later). Check the 10:40 mark in the 1st: Rajon Rondo brings the ball up and passes to Ray Allen on the left wing. Rondo cuts down the middle of the court toward the foul line as if he’s heading to the baseline area. As Rajon starts that cut, Pierce curls around from the right wing toward the top of the key. Rondo suddenly stops at the left elbow and sets a surprise screen on Pierce’s guy (Gerald Wallace).

Pierce curls around it, takes a pass from Ray and drives toward the hoop. The Charlotte bigs collapse on Pierce, and he dishes to Perk for the jam.

You know I’m a sucker for a) creative off the ball movement; and b) the use of Rondo as a screener/decoy/something besides ball-handler. Good times.

• The C’s had one of their best three-point shooting games of the season. Sheed attempted zero three-pointers.

• Tyrus Thomas is one of the 10 most puzzling players in the league. I realize this is not news. What happens to Thomas (a restricted free agent) will be one of the most interesting things about this summer.

I mean, if you’re Ty Thomas, and you’re young and athletic and fast, and you see Rasheed Wallace guarding you…aren’t you salivating? Demanding the ball? Driving to the rim whenever you get it?

Instead, he was mostly a non-entity. He finished with a double-double (15-10), but that masks the fact that he did almost nothing of note while the game was (sort of) in the balance. Six of his 15 points and seven of his 10 boards came in the 4th quarter, which was all garbage time.

• Encouraging sign: The C’s hit KG three times with that semi-transition lob where he beats the opposing big guy down the floor, gets inside position near the hoop and calls for a lob over the fronting defender. The play produced a lay-in, a drawn foul and a Pierce three when Gerald Wallace collapsed down on KG after a Rondo lob entry and KG kicked to the Truth.

This has always been a go-to play for Healthy KG.

• Shelden Williams has improved his jumper out to about 15 feet. As I was perhaps too happy to point out, Shelden’s J was the among the weaker parts of his game before this season. The guy works hard.

• Bill Walker and Eddie House combined for 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting tonight, and yet there’s very little doubt in mind that—at least for this season—Danny Ainge made the right move by acquiring Nate Robinson.

• The KG/Pierce screen/roll was working well tonight, producing switches, driving lanes for Pierce and/or open Js for KG. Bread and butter, baby.

That’s it for now. More tomorrow, of course. Nice to have an easy one, wasn’t it?

  • GranTur

    OMG my girlfriend and I put on our Bee Gees album and danced like crazy during the whole fourth quarter.

    This was one of the most fun basketball games I’d watched in a while.

    Cs!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOO

  • Jim MacIndoe

    Sorry Zach,
    I do not miss your guy Eddy.He was just too one dimensional. Nate has much better ball handling skills and he can play some defense . He has sparked the second unit and now Rhondo can get some rest. This may be the best move Danny has made in the last couple of years. I am starting to have hope again!!

  • I love Green

    @Jim- His name is Eddie, you dunder head. Comeon son everyone knows how to spell Eddie House’s name, and I’m hoping you spelled it “Rhondo” on purpose. Because it’s Rondo.

    Anywho, GREAT GAME CELTICS! YEAHH!!!!

    Okay really though, its only one game against a team we’ve dominated this year. Lets see if we can repeat this performance again, and again, and again, and alll the way to the playoffs. When of course, we’ll stop being bored and play our best.

    Oh yeah, Im glad you guys didn’t shut down the site after that nets loss.

  • matthew

    i still don’t wanna get my hopes up.. i’m glad the Cs won this game but i’ve been too frustrated (not to mention pissed) with this team for much of this season already.

    I just hope this blowout wasn’t a fluke, and am praying they play the way I play them in NBA 2k10.

  • Eric

    You guys regularly observe and write on basketball as well as the Celtics played it tonight. Great work.

  • RBD

    I’m pretty sure Doc is going to encourage Nate to shoot those transition threes (I mean – if he won’t stop Sheed from doing it – what’s he gonna say to a guy that can actually hit them). Nate’s like a wild stallion. Let him run. Some bad comes with that. You gotta live with it.

  • DRJ1

    There was some talk about the Cs acquiring Ty Thomas at one point pre-deadline. I am glad that didn’t happen. He seems to be a loser.

    And it looks like the one move to bring Nate here… was the perfect move. It’s not just his shooting…it’s his whole persona. He’s finally in a place that LOVES who he is, LOVES his energy and pride and fire and even his grandstanding. It’s all good. Just what this team needed.

  • KY Celts fan

    Hornets, Zach? Did I just travel through time? I’ve got to warn the world about Lady Gaga!

  • scott

    14-20. it must be easy for house and walker now that they do not have to play defense.

    nice to see a full roster for the C’s.

  • Trav

    DRj….Nate was the biggest New york knick fan favorite since Patrick Ewing…why are u acting like he wasnt embraced by the fans elsewhere? LOL

  • Adrian

    Nice to have a lop-sided victory, they should play Nate more this guy brings energy and i like our 2nd unit defence..also former celtic B.Walker had a good game again im starting to think we missed something on this guy but oh well we have N. Robinson

  • http://celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @KY: Ha. Great catch. I’ll leave it there as a memorial to the Charlotte Hornets, despite the fact that they goal-tended that Dee Brown dunk in ’93

  • DRJ1

    @Trav: Not talking about the fans, talking about the team… what KG said, and Doc. He was unloved in NY, at least by D’Antoni… the opposite of his experience so far in Boston.

  • Jay P

    @DRJ1

    He was unloved by D’Antoni, that’s about it. Sometimes a coach/player just don’t mesh. I never heard any major gripes from his teammates, players understand him. He can be a showboat, but in a system where the games don’t matter, and a coach he just wants to spite, who can be surprised?

    The problem is, now the games do matter, and Nate needs to learn to get himself out of those bad habits he developed in New York.

    There was no doubt he’d be a fan favorite here, youth, athleticism, energy, celtics fans have been starving for it all year. Fans loving him doesn’t mean he’s the best guy for the team though, I mean they love Scal, but you’re crazy if you say you want him on the floor against the lakers in the playoffs.

    I digress, great game, was fun to watch, I love the intensity from the bench. Let’s just pray it’s contagious and Sheed catches the bug.

  • Jay P

    Oh and I wanted to mentioned about this game, cause it made me laugh (and cry on the inside) last night.

    I love Tony Allen, as long as he’s on defense.

    Watching him play tenacious, in your face man-on-man defense, get a steal and drive down the court was priceless.

    Watching him shoot the subsequent free throws was nauseating. Is he the worst free throw shooting Guard/Small forward in the NBA?

  • Bill, that’s right I said it…

    Post trade:

    Nate’s average: 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal

    Eddie’s average: 10.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steal

    Walker’s average: 12 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.6 steals

    Nate is OVERHYPED.

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  • Jay P

    Bill, really man? Come on…

    You’re talking about a D’antoni system there, hell I might be able to average 10 points a game for the Knicks… when you put up a shot every 11 seconds, you’re going to see people with some big box scores. It doesn’t mean anything.

    Ya it’s awesome when Walker scores 24 against Cleveland… but the Cavs scored 76 in that same game… IN ONE HALF.

    You’re comparing Apples to Oranges there. Knicks players put up big numbers because they shoot a lot, and noone cares. But they don’t play defense, and they don’t win games.

  • DRJ1

    @Jay P: You seem to know for a fact that Nate’s problem in NY was solely with D’Antoni and not with anyone else in management. Could you please share the source of this inside information with the rest of us?

    And… what bad habits would you like Nate to get out of? Hitting too many of his shots? Being too energetic? Too enthusiastic? Too active? Pray, enlighten us.

    And what is the point of your argument that being a fan favorite does not mean he’s “the best” for this team? Did anyone make that point? I believe I’ve already said it twice now, but let’s make it three times, for the denser ones: the TEAM loves this guy. According to both KG and Doc, he has brought the kind of youthful energy and enthusiasm to the locker room that was just what this team needed at this time. These words are almost verbatim what Doc said, btw.

    As for TA, we can hope/expect that his FT% will get closer to his career average of .735 as the season progresses and the playoffs arrive. Meanwhile, his primary usefulness is defense with his offensive production thrown in as gravy.

    @Bill – how about taking into playing time account before drawing conclusions?

  • I love Green

    @Bill- You do realize the Knicks don’t play defense, right? And stop being so dumb, Bill Walker is getting waaayyyyyy more minutes on New York then in Boston, and Eddie is getting more minutes too. We needed a backup point guard and we got one who can score and defend better then Eddie.

    All of us here who were begging for Billy to play more minutes knew he had those numbers in him. Not so sure I want him playing in front of Quis, or Tony Allen.

  • DRJ1

    @Jay P: Your point about the D’Antoni system would be more valid if a lot of Knicks were putting up 22 and 21 points per game. Ah, but in fact, Billy was team leader in points scored 2 days ago, and #2 last night.

  • david

    I still have hope in the celtic players, they lost focused and with the injuries the past 2 seasons have hurt the celtics really alot, hopefully when the playoffs arrive the will be ready, As long as KG is playing this year they will be ok in the playoffs, 7 games is a lot games to play so they will be fine.

  • Jay P

    @DRJ1

    I don’t have sources that say it was solely D’antoni, but I know I never heard any players with gripes, nor heard any rumors about Knicks players having an issue with him. If I’m wrong, feel free to prove it so, and point me to something that mentions otherwise. I’m just making an educated assumption on the basis of not seeing anything in the media to say otherwise, and we all know those type of locker room problems always leak one way or another, so if it happened, I’m willing to bet we’d of heard of it.

    You seem to get the impression I was against Nate, not at all. I love the trade, and I had no doubt he’d fit on with the personalities in Boston, they’d keep him in line from his former antics, and they’d love his intensity. I think that’s pretty much exactly what you stated in those quotes from the team. We’re in the same page there dude.

    Bad habits part I meant is just taking bad shots. In New York he could take any shot whenever he wanted, it’s pretty much just what they do. Zach said it well “Nate: You’re on a real team now. No need to gun for highlight plays. Just do your job.” That’s exactly my point, those highlight play shots he goes for are habits developed in a system that just doesn’t care, in games that just aren’t going to matter.

    TA: I’m shocked his career number is that high. He has one of the worst motions I’ve seen, who the hell ever taught him to shoot a shot from his ear? Ugly.

  • Big Richard (Dick)

    “The Hornets scored 46 points in the paint, 26 on foul shots and…8 from elsewhere on the court. Nate Robinson outscored the Bobcats from outside the paint in 6:47 of play in the first half.”

    -Showing your age they are now called the Bobcats, not the Hornets.

  • DRJ1

    @Zach: I believe Paul Pierce can help you. He is handing out free advice on such matters, I believe… last night being a prime example. Guess Jacko didn’t think it was particularly useful, but hey, it’s free.

  • DRJ1

    Of maybe Jacko heard one of KG’s MF bombs and took it literally? Thought it was Paul? “You little MF”… could be construed as a direct anatomical insult….. Gotta admit, we have a funny team. With Nate now, we got even funnier.

  • DRJ1

    LOL. Looks like somebody was masquerading as Zach. Too funny! (Ban that IP for life… of course.)

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  • Zach Lowe

    I’ll ban your face with my fist. No one talks to Zach Lowe like that.

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