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Playoff Preview? Bucks 86, C’s 84

 

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Thumbnail: The Celtics lose a tight one in the Bradley Center against the streaking Bucks who are now winners of 10 of 11 overall in what could be a potential 1st round preview between these two squads. For the Celtics sake, they better hope it is not, since they had no answer for Andrew Bogut, who had another monster game with 25 points, 17 boards, 4 blocks and one posterizing dunk on Glen Davis you can witness below in Zach’s post.

A back and forth gritty defensive affair featured some strong outside shooting from the Bucks from John Salmons and Carlos Delfino which helped keyed an 18-9 fourth quarter run that gave the Bucks a 7 point lead. The C’s closed the gap nicely to two in the final 3 minutes, giving themselves a chance to tie the game on a Paul Pierce fadeaway from the elbow as time expired, but the shot rimmed out.

Pierce had an off night all evening, while Ray Allen’s failure to get involved (0-3 for the night) kept the C’s perimeter game to be almost non-existent while he was out there. On the good news front, Rondo had one of his best offensive games in awhile, attacking the basket relentlessly for 20 points and a highlight reel jam of his own. KG had a nice bounce back offensive effort as well. Defensively, except when trying to defend Bogut, the entire team looked as good as they have for stretches in a long while.

All in all, a tough road loss against a good Milwaukee team who really wanted this game (4 starters played 40+ minutes). Give them credit for the win, but definitely no reason for the Green to hang their head in the visitors locker room.

A few parting thoughts on the one before we hit bullets. First, this Buck team had something to prove tonight, and well they did it. They blew a big home win against the Lakers earlier this year and yes they beat the Cavs on Saturday night but that was a Lebron-less Cavs team.

They came to play tonight and brought energy on both ends of the floor. Scott Skiles has this squad playing hard and as a cohesive unit on offense and defense. Overall the C’s played a very good defensive game, but they did have some lapses, which the Bucks took full advantage of, whether it be inside or downtown. Defensively, they made the C’s work for their hoops in the half court all night long. Well done.

Count me fully in the camp of this team being a very tough out for the Hawks or Celtics in the 1st round of these playoffs. It’s a pick your poison problem with this team. It’s almost impossible to contain Bogut in one on one defense, though Perk has been of his game lately in this department. Ok then double team Bogut? You have two sharpshooters in Delfino and Salmons ready to take advantage along with a heady veteran in Bogut who makes smart decisions with the ball. It’s not a fun predicament to be in. Tom Thibs will have his hands full trying to figure out the best solution to match this squad if he sees them in round 1.

The game changing run came in the midway point of the 4th quarter for the Bucks who scored on 6 consecutive possessions, a 14-2 overall leading to a 7 point lead 86-79 with just under 3 minutes. It was a little bit of everything offensively from Milwaukee in this sequence, with each member of the lineup pitching in with a hoop.

So this situation leads us to a good news/bad news situation if you are a Celtic fan. The bad news is well, they gave up that run and had a letdown on both ends of the floor in that 3 minute sequence.

The good news? The Celtics put the clamps down in the closing moments, fought back, and actually gave themselves a good chance to tie this one up. They forced 5 jump shots in the closing minutes, yet their opportunities were limited offensively thanks to some timely offensive rebounds that allowed the Bucks to run plenty of clock in the final 2 minutes. That and a terrible offensive foul on Perk with a buck forty left.

All in all though, this was progress for this team. Yes, that is kind of sad to say in a loss to the Bucks, but this is the kind of game where after a big run, the Celtics go into their shell when it matters and come up short this year, not even giving themselves the opportunity to come back. Tonight, they stood firm, got stops when it mattered and got their crunch time scorer a pretty good look to tie this one up against the hottest team in the league, in their building. It wasn’t pretty, but it was progress.

Quick Bullets:

  • Minute Watch: Very happy with Doc keeping everyone in the 30’s tonight with Rondo maxing out at 37 minutes. This was just one game, and with Memphis waiting in Boston for the C’s Wednesday night, Doc made sure these guys will have something left in the tank.
  • Ray Allen took 3 shots tonight. This can’t happen. The Bucks played good defense on him but you need your best shooter to be more involved than that. All 3 looks were 3 pointers as well. Ray had minimal influence on this game offensively and the Celtics suffered because of it. Give Skiles credit though, he seemed to know Ray was hot coming into this game and made his team key on him to keep him away from the ball.
  • Paul Pierce was really forcing it tonight. 3 of 13 overall with 12 points and 4 turnovers. I spoke briefly with Mike Gorman over at MIT this weekend and he mentioned how he thought PP was still feeling the lingering effects of his injuries. With consistent performances like this, I don’t doubt it.
  • Perk had a pretty meh game. Defensively he can’t handle Bogut. Offensively, a tough game shooting with 3 of 9, only 5 boards and a terrible moving pick with 2 minutes left, and the team down 4. Also KG threw the ball into him for a possession a minute before that, for a crucial possession that resulted in a fadeaway baseline jumper. Not a smart move KG. Perk is option number 5 in crunch time, not number 1.
  • Rajon Rondo had his best game in awhile, from start to finish. He attacked the basket regularly, and got to the line consistently where he probably had the best FT shooting performance in his career (8/9 from stripe). Plus that siiick putback dunk. 20 points and 6 assists overall to go with 4 turnovers. We’ll take it, especially with the continued attacking in the 4th, when this team needed it most. A good sign for sure.
  • Great effort by bench in first half, meh in 2nd half.  11/20 from field overall, 4/7 from deep. Can’t complain about that.
  • Michael Finley, a strong debut in just 8 minutes of action, hitting 2 deep buckets in the 2nd quarter. Me likey.
  • Rasheed Wallace may have played his best game in recent memory. Only 3 shots. 1 3 pointer. 4 boards, an assist and 2 steals. No turnovers. Naturally he only played 19 minutes. This was actually a night where I wouldn’t mind seeing him play in crunch time……Doc can be funny like that sometimes going with the cold hand.
  • Jennings has a little too much attitude for his own good right now. Him getting into Baby’s face after a questionably “hard” foul was a little bush league in my opinion. Baby coming back with an almost headbutt too was pretty bad as well. Two immature players right there.
  • As consistent an effort as we’ve seen from this team on the defensive end since the west coast trip. Also really liked seeing this team get out in transition a bunch on fast breaks tonight. Need to do that more.
  • 15 turnovers……not good……but expected at this point. Lost board battle 41-34 as well as some crucial offensive ones when it mattered. Going to be a flaw all year long for this team upfront against more athletic big men.

The good news for Celtics? We don’t see the Bucks until mid April, where we close the season with two games out of the final 3 against them. Hopefully the seedings are settled by then, but wouldn’t it be kind of funny if the C’s played a 4/5 matchup against them. That would mean they could potentially play 9 games against each other over the course of a couple weeks. I’m getting ahead of myself here though.

Memphis back at home Wednesday night. Two more tough big men with Gasol and Randolph and some athletic perimeter players in Gay and Mayo. Should be another good test.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    I’m just curious if we could have an informal poll based on a repetitive real life situation. If YOU, and I mean all those wonderful, good looking, charming, & intelligent Celtics fans out there reading this right now were the coach—-just visualize that for a few seconds & feel that surge of power… If YOU were the coach & the game was in the final minutes of the 4th quarter, how would you choose who to play to try & win the game? Would you go by what you had always done? Would you hire a fortune teller? Would you choose the players who make the most money? Would you draw straws? Would you choose the players you considered your best friends? Would you base your choice on what has happened the past 2 weeks? Would you base your choice on what had actually happened in the last hour? How would you do it? How would you choose?

    Doc has this wacky idea of getting any starter having a terrible game…”into the game” by getting them the ball even more. As if running more plays for that ice cold starter will make them shoot better or catch on fire—eventually. There is ZERO recognition that KG is hot or Quis is getting into the paint or that Finley is locked in. Instead, there is the deep seated belief that we MUST ALWAYS FINISH WITH THE SAME 5 GUYS WHO STARTED THE GAME & we have to get “whichever starter is having a bad game going.” The Cs are the league’s worst at recognizing who is shooting well & then milking that cow dry. Doc’s interpretation of the game seems to be…ok, we have KG with a double double & a good shooting % so now it makes perfect sense to go away from that & force the ball to Paul & get him going even though Paul’s shot is way off tonight. This & this are working great, but let’s go to the starter who has been struggling the most tonight.

    End of game decisions about who to play to try and win the game are not based on what has actually happened the whole game, what has proven to work in the here and now. The line up to finish out the game was decided before the players even got off the plane. Even then, the starter who is struggling most with his shot is the one who is most likely to get the ball the way Doc engineers it. How many times are we going to have to see this happen???

  • Mike

    Bubbles, I am usually a pretty big supporter of Doc, but you definitely do have a good point here. I do find it sometimes irritating that at least during the regular season Doc has very strict rotations. There have been games where Marquis was our best player and just because it hit the 7 minute mark of the 2nd or 4th quarter, it was time for him to sit, etc. He does need to do a better job of sticking with the lineup that is working for longer stretches of time. Tonight Nate Robinson came into the game hot and then completely disappeared. As far as the late game play calling, it is hard to say how much of it is Doc, and how much of it is Pierce saying “give me the ball.” But regardless, you are correct that there are too many times where the offense breaks down because they try so hard to get a specific player going. For a team as talented as the C’s the offense shouldn’t struggle the way it can sometimes. 84 points for this offense with the team healthy is just unacceptable.

  • Dan

    What I never understood is why teams go for the tie when down by 2. The math is really simple and favors shooting a 3.

    Even if you figure that any last-second shot is contested, lets be generous and give Pierce his average 46% chance of making it. Again being generous, let’s give the Celtics a 60% of winning in OT on the road since they have ‘momentum’ (actually they way they’re playing its probably much less, but whatever). The probability of hitting the 2 AND winning OT is only 27%.

    Which is way less than the chance of PP/Ray/Nate, maybe even Rondo hitting a 3 – especially considering that the Bucks are going to contest the 2 much harder. Even Sheed’s historically bad year has him shooting above 27% and he’s just been jacking it up. Throw in the fact that the C’s are already playing too many minutes, there’s really no reason to go for the OT.

    College football coaches have long ago figured this out: that’s why so many go for the 2-point conversion in Bowl games.

  • Jason

    The assist stat is always interesting to me. Many will see 6 assists and conclude Rondo wasn’t distributing as normal and then claim that as why the Cs lost. But what I see is 3-13, 0-3 and 3-9 and say he would have had 10 assists and the Cs would have won this game easily had 3 other starters not shot a combined 24%.

  • DRJ1

    I think this thread makes some kind of history. Every single comment above is ON THE MONEY. (Don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Good thing there are only 4… the record couldn’t possibly stand if there were any more!?)

  • DRJ1

    Doc’s choice for that last shot is completely baffling to me. First, there’s everything Bubbles said, which I won’t repeat here, except to say that you don’t play a game based on the players’ HISTORY… you play the game in front of you.

    But also — every scout and every team, hell, every FAN, knows by now that either Paul or Ray is going to get the damn ball. Because Doc NEVER changes that. Now… I can understand doing it anyway IF you run a play to spring one of them free. Like they did for Ray vs. Washington. But to just give it to the COLDEST player on the floor (that would be Paul), after he had already missed 8 jumpers in that game, with NO play to spring him free for a clean look? When EVERYBODY is expecting just that? Are you kidding us?!

    Doc has become the coaches’ version of Bad-TA. He loses his mind with regularity.

  • mitch

    i hate jennings stupid face…..i can’t wait till next time when we play these goons…bogut can be stopped. crowd him…don’t give him space to shoot, double team and have 3 guys spread guarding the perimeter shooters….doc is dumb

  • steve

    Jennings was irritating enough trying to stand over Baby after that foul. Then he hits a little floater and makes that three finger sign around his eye. What is that about? Then to top it all off he decides to get in a jawing contest with KG at the end of the game. Settle down young fella.

  • efstje

    man,paul pierce is the oldest 32 year old player in the league.he plays like crap,he never stops shooting and he’s always like “oh this was a good shot, oh i loved my looks tonight”. I mean i love paul but he plays awful.damn kobe is 31 and plays like mad.why do you guys think he is playing so awful???

  • Jay P

    I agree with everything being said about Doc, he infuriates me. I’ve written about it in the past on numerous occasions, and nothing has changed yet this year.

    That being said, don’t take anything out of this loss, it’s a road loss against a very good, and very hot Bucks team.

    I firmly believe in a 7-game series, Boston takes in 4-1, 4-2 at most. This one loss means nothing really in the grand scheme of things, Ray/Paul had one off night, 70% of the time they’ll shoot better, and we’ll win.

    I’m going to go on record and say the Bucks will be the scariest team outside a top 4 seed in the postseason. The Cs really need to keep playing well, solely for the reason of keeping the 3 seed, and avoiding that 4-5 match up with Milwaukee.

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

    There was a stretch in the 3rd when Pierce looked like Pierce–drawing fouls, attacking the rim, generally being effective. I am encouraged by that stretch.

    As for the last play, I was surprised Doc didn’t go for a three as option #1. Ray taking 3 shots is shocking.

  • Jay P

    @efstje

    1) Paul Pierce is not Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant is arguably the best player in basketball, and certainly has been for a number of years (I’d day before last year he was definitely the best, but Lebron has emerged as a truely dominant force these last 2 years) and is, at the least, in the running as one of the best players ever. You just can’t compare the two.

    2) Injuries have taken their toll on Paul, the ankle, the thumb, he just doesn’t have the mobility he once had… and let’s face it, his mobility was never fantastic to begin with.

    I don’t know if Paul can get it back, we saw him very effective in that high post 1 on 1 last year against Chicago, hell he practically kept us in that series on more than one occasion. That was only a year ago, he can’t have regressed that much now…Right?…Right?…

    But I agree, you can’t rely in him late in games like we used to, Doc needs to find some better options.

  • matthew

    my god!! why do they still think paul pierce can take over late in the game?!?! that’s nuts! i hate his ego, thinking he can still put up! jeez! when was the last time has he made a fadeaway j in isolation? last year i think! i hope they trade him in the offseason for someone better (and younger).

  • matthew

    man, larry bird in that last second situation would have “rolled the dice”… lol.

  • Jay P

    “Larry Bird’s not walking through that door!”

    Oh Ricky Ricky Ricky….

  • JRod

    I will break it down for you. The Celtics will not be winning a championship this season and here’s the reason why. Kevin Garnett has lost a full step in his game both on offense and defense. Paul Pierce went from averaging 22.4 ppg to just over 17. Ray Allen has played so inconsistant that he was rumored to be traded before the deadline. DA trades the only spark off the bench (your 6th man) Eddie House, who is capable of putting up 20-30 off the bench on any given night not to mention game winners. Nate Robinson is no improvement for the C’s bench and Finley is 37 and has played in 24 games this year not to mention there is a good reason why the SPURS let him walk. You have no big guys to help out aside from Perkins. Overall the C’s are struggling, they are 12-8 in there lst 20 games and are 2-8 in the last 10 games vs teams with a winning record. Rando is your only positive during this season. I highly doubt you will see the C’s winning past the 1st round and i do say they will need all 7 games to get by. Your days as an elite team are very numbered.

  • Jay P

    @JRod (aka some dude probably from LA)

    I was actually agreeing with your argument, until you tried to argue that Robinson isn’t an upgrade over Eddie House.

    I love Eddie, but that’s just insane. Look at their numbers, Robinson’s shooting numbers nearly equal House’s, and he’s a ten times more dynamic player offensively (and we don’t lose anything defensively) I’m not arguing he’s the answer, but I dare you to show me anything that says trading Eddie for him was a bad move. Let me save you the trouble, you wont.

    Thank you for pointing out their struggling. It’s also the year 2010, and it’s a Wednesday, care to point out anymore clearly obvious points?

    They’ve also shown that in stretches they can dominate any team in Basketball, they haven’t done it for 48 minutes (often) and certainly not consistently, but we’ve seen them play as good and better than anyone else out there. They need to work out their chemistry issues, and find a better flow offensively (running the offense through Paul does not work anymore, it’s time for it to end.)

    Finley adds veteran depth, a guy who wont get flustered in big games and can provide some advice for younger guys in the playoffs, no one is making the argument he’s going to do anything big, I don’t see your point.

    Ray is putting it together, save an off night against the Bucks he’s been playing fantastic, forget everything before the All-Star break it’s meaningless.

    I will break it down for you, once the playoffs start, you can through everything that happened in the regular season out the window. Anything can happen in the playoffs, 2008 Cleveland was an eight seed who no one expected to test the Celtics. It went seven games, anything is possible.

  • matthew

    @ Jay P – 2008 Cleveland was an 8th seed? Are you kidding me? Get your facts straight man!

  • Jay P

    Mis type, Mis type!

    I meant Atlanta. My bad.

  • I love Green

    I just don’t understand why you don’t go to Ray Allen at the end of the game. I don’t care if Allen is cold or not I want him shooting at the end of the game. An iso for Pierce was a bad choice by Doc.

  • Aussie Shaun

    I find it interesting we went after Finley….especially after you check out Bill Walker’s stats for the Knicks?? Hes been starting, has had a couple 20 pt games, and is shooting quite well. Is anyone saying we couldnt have used him? Or does Doc not trust anyone under the age of 30?

  • DRJ1

    JRod — Dead wrong. This team can take it all. Not gonna list all the details… unless you make me.

    JayP — Agree with everything, except not wanting Bucks in playoffs. I have no problem believing we can beat this team in a series. We lost last night because a LOT of things went the wrong way, things that are not likely to happen simultaneously again.

    Aussie– Walker had 2-3 good games. He’s unproven. I’m very happy with the Nate trade. And not that it means anything, but Finley is way more valuable to this team than Walker could hope to be right now.

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