The Celtics’ hopes for a three game road sweep were dashed tonight as a hot second half by the Jazz cooled off the previously hot Celtics. Before we get into the minor details, there a few things right off the bat that prove the Celtics did not deserve to win this game. First, the Celtics regressed into their third quarter problem of being offensively inept, but also were far worse on the defensive end. The Jazz had five of their eight offensive rebounds in the third quarter and the Celtics defense let Mehmet Okur beat them from everywhere. Second, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were a combined 7-25 from the floor. Thirdly, Rajon Rondo seemed to let a personal “I can do anything better than you” with Williams take over most of the game.
Given these three obvious facets of tonight’s game, it’s not hard to see why the Celtics lost. The more troubling part of this loss is the fire and energy they played with in spurts in the first half, completely vanished in the second. Lately, when the Celtics have played well for a half despite poor shooting from the starters, they have been able to come out and regain their stroke. Tonight the opposite happened. When the going got tough in the second half, the Celtics stopped moving the ball and tried to make up the deficit in one play every trip down the floor. This, of course, is a proven poor strategy that hardly ever works (unless you’re Paul Pierce against the New Jersey Nets in Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals or Paul Pierce against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals). Still, the Celtics’ players try to employ this strategy far too early in games. Halfway through the third quarter is not the time to take on the world, it’s the time to tighten up the defense and wait for the offense to come.
It is what it is: one game. Let’s not draw any concrete conclusions about the rest of the season or Championship hopes from this as they seem to change everyday.
- This was a PHYSICAL game. I know I got riled up just watching it. I often wonder whether in games like this, the players take things as personally as I do. I kept thinking as the Celtics continuously got outworked, outphysical-ed, and stifled by the officials- why doesn’t someone just lay Carlos Boozer out. Or why doesn’t Big Baby run a pick and roll with Rondo, get Deron Williams in a switch, and just bulldoze him over.
- The refs, by no stretch of the imagination, cost the Celtics this game but they were incredibly inconsistent. Deron Williams was the beneficially of a call every single time he lowered his shoulder and bowled someone over. I love Deron Williams, and I totally get that if the officials aren’t going to call the foul, then by all means he has to lower his shoulder. That being said, he did a lot to break my heart tonight by continuously complaining to refs when he didn’t get a call. The Celtics catch a lot of flack for doing this very thing, and I’m starting to see why certain players complain to the refs. It’s not that whether what gets called a foul is technically a foul, it’s the frustration brought on be the inconsistency. The Jazz were aggressive all night, tracking down loose balls and fighting for rebounds. For the most part, the refs let the players play scrums out. One particular mind boggling exchange where the refs failed to be consistent occurred when Big Baby was called for a loose foul fighting for a rebound with Carlos Boozer. The refs called a foul on Glen Davis after his attempt to grab a long rebound ended up in Boozer’s hands. To make matters worse, the whistle blew after Glen had pulled his hands away and up as if to say “I’m not fighting for it” and the Jazz had it secured. Bogus.
- Okur grabbed 15 boards and shot four of six from deep which, to quote Wayne’s World, is “both bogus and lame.”
- The Bench played really well tonight, which was refreshing for a change. Michael Finley, Nate Robinson, and Marquis Daniels all had solid games while Glen Davis stole the show with his immediate impact in the first quarter. Glen injected energy in to the first unit and showed that he was going to match the Jazz’ physicality pound for pound.
- Paul Pierce had a terrible game. Adding to his shooting woes, he also failed to step it up in the waning minutes of tonight’s game when the rest of his counterparts had decided that they weren’t going to quit. Pierce stopped playing any semblance of defense in the final 4 minutes. Attempting to take a handful of charges can take the fire right out of a person.
- The best part of this game, aside from the bench and the end, was Doc’s ejection. His ejection showed everyone that he still cared. He still cares about this team. He stills cared about that game. He still cares about basketball, and he didn’t take tonight’s loss lightly. I expect the Celtics to get back to drawing board tomorrow.
There you have it. I’m frustrated. You’re frustrated. Let’s sleep on it. We’ll all feel better in the morning.
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