Post-game Reactions

ESPN RecapSactown RoyaltyCowbell Kingdom

Pace: 92 possessions (average)

Offensive Efficiency: 102.2 points/100 possessions (awful)

Defensive Efficiency: 93.4 points allowed/100 possessions (beyond league best)

Thumbnail: The Celtics blitzed the Kings 57-37 in the first half, as Rajon Rondo directed an ultra-efficient offense and played might what well be the best 4:00 of his career in the 2nd quarter. Rondo was directly responsible for all 16 points the C’s scored in a ridiculous 3:40 span late in the 2nd quarter that broke the game open. The bench—and we’re talking the deep bench—fell apart offensively in the 3rd and 4th quarters, allowing the Kings to creep back within single-digits. The starters closed it out. 

Rondo set a regular-season career high with 18 assists and he broke Rick Fox’s single-season steals record. The Kings offense looked isolation-heavy and produced  nothing, save for Carl Landry’s 30-point, 10-of-16 destruction of the C’s front line. I love Carl Landry.


There will be a segment of fans who howl about how the bench allowed Sacto to trim a 24-point lead down to single-digits, forcing Doc to reinsert the starters the last 6:00 (or  more, in the cases of Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo) of the 4th quarter. I get that. But they’ll be focusing on the wrong half of this game.

This is the NBA. When an elite team like Boston goes up 25 against a bad team missing its top player, the intensity level and focus are going to fall off. This had already started happening before Doc inserted the bench mid-way through the 3rd quarter. The starters were no longer running the half court sets with the same precision, and Rondo was gunning for street ball highlights instead of playing sound offense. At one point, Rajon grabbed an offensive rebound along the right baseline and turned the ball out toward the corner. As he performed this routine act, he decided, for the hell of it, to dribble behind the back and through his legs with his left hand. 

Even Heinsohn got on him for that. With about 2:10 to go in the 3rd, Rondo threaded a lefty fastball to Marquis Daniels, who was literally standing out of bounds under the rim. Rondo passed up an open 18-foot jumper with Carl Landry guarding him to do this. 

And you’ll read stuff about how “the bench” let the Kings back into it with their failure to execute on offense. This is true, in a literal sense. But the “bench” that played the 2nd half tonight in no way resembles the “bench” that will play in contested playoff games. Brian Scalabrine, Shelden Williams and Tony Allen are not going to share court time in a real game. 

The 26-10 Sacto run that bridged the 3rd and 4th quarters is not relevant. So let’s move on. 


• The Celtics played a very efficient 1st half despite shooting 46.7 percent (21-of-45)—a nice percentage, but below the C’s average of 48.5 percent. By my count on the play-by-play, the C’s had approximately 50 offensive possessions in the 1st half. They scored 57 points, which works out to 114 points per 100 possessions—a number that would the league. Boston averages about 107.5 points per 100 possessions. 

So how did the C’s put up such gaudy offensive numbers while shooting a below average (for them) percentage? 

I’ll offer a few reasons:

1) Low turnovers. Just five in the first half and eight for the game. The C’s average about 15.5 per game;

2) Offensive rebounds. Six in the first half doesn’t make the C’s the Grizzlies, but it helps; 

3) The transition game. Fifty possessions in a half is a ton, especially for a slower-paced team like Boston. The C’s average about 92 possessions per game, or 46 per half. Only one team (Golden State) averages 50 possessions per half. 

And the C’s transition game was on fire, and it was on fire because Rajon Rondo played one of the best damned stretches of basketball you’ll ever see from a point guard during the 2nd quarter. It happened between the 5:18 and 1:38 marks of that quarter, so if you taped this game, save it and re-watch that stretch. That’s 3:40 of basketball time. The Celtics scored 16 points in that 3:40. That works out to about 200 points per game. 

And Rondo was directly responsible for all 16 of those points. 

At the 4:30 mark, Rondo had just engineered two possessions so outrageously good that I typed in my notes (in all caps) SEQUENCE OF THE GAME. On the first of those two possessions (4:58, 2nd), Rondo rebounded a Casspi miss, took one dribble to the Sacto foul line and heaved a lead pass for Ray Allen, who was streaking down the left side of the floor with three Kings on his back as if he were Randy Moss. The ball bounced in front of Ray just to the left of the paint below the foul line on Boston’s offensive end,  meaning it traveled from foul line to foul line in the air. 

It also bounced just to Ray’s left, meaning Ray was between the ball and the three Sacto pursuers. Ray gathered and laid it in. 

Frankly, this pass shouldn’t have worked. It is an insane pass. 

On the next Sacto possession (4:30, 2nd), Sean May faces up on the left wing and starts a dribble drive. Rondo suddenly lunges away from his man (Beno Udrih, standing behind the three-point arc on May’s side) and strips May. Rondo sprint-dribbles down the right side and gets by the retreating Udrih, forcing the only other King back on defense (Andres Nocioni, doing nothing helpful all game) to come out of the paint and help on Rondo. Rajon flings a pass along the baseline to Finley, who is stationed in the left corner for an open three. A Sacto defender closes out, so Finley swings the ball to Ray, who is trailing the play near the top of the arc. Ray nails a three. 

Rondo gets no assist on this play, but it’s all him. 

That was the sequence of the game, I thought at the time. Only Rajon just kept making plays. He stole the ball from Nocioni at midcourt and went in for an uncontested lay-in (2:57, 2nd). He found Ray for another three, then got the ball in transition and froze Sean May so badly with a fake lefty behind-the-back pass that I thought May was going to fall over. Rondo kept the ball and laid it in. 

By the time the 3:40 was up, Rajon had scored 4 points, dished 4 assists (leading to baskets worth 9 points) and notched the hockey assist on the Rondo-Finley-Allen three-pointer. 

You cannot play point guard better than Rajon played it for that 3:40. And the fun thing is, there isn’t a point guard in the league who could have dominated that 3:40 the same way Rajon did. A few other point guards could have dominated it to the same degree, but no one could have done so with the same mix of rebounding, steals and transition offense that Rajon displayed. 

• Marquis Daniels, we’re told, would have been a DNP-CD tonight had the game been close. As it is, Doc didn’t send Marquis in until the 3:09 mark of the 3rd quarter. Is it really possible for Daniels to play  his way out of the post-season rotation? Or is Doc just sending a late-March message to the player on whom the C’s used their biannual salary cap exception, meaning they can’t use it again next season? 

• Nate Robinson twisted his left ankle on a lay-up attempt and did not return. Let’s hope it’s nothing major, obviously.

• KG’s 12 boards tonight are one off his season high. Another good sign.He also converted an alley-oop and got into post position quickly in transition offense. That’s always a good sign.

• On the downside, Carl Landry destroyed anyone Boston put on him. He beat KG off the dribble easily from all over the court, especially the left block. 30 points on just 16 shot attempts for Landry, who continues to be on may All-NBA Personal Favorites team. 

• Mike Gorman twice referred to Dominic McGuire as “Garcia” (i.e. Francisco Garcia) in the 1st quarter, and I can’t say I blame him too much. I expected Garcia to start, and it took me a few minutes to realize McGuire was on the court instead. 

• Nobody throws more ill-advised home run passes than the Kings. The C’s picked off two in the 1st quarter.

• The Kings were lost offensively tonight without Tyreke Evans. The C’s didn’t have to play much team defense during the 1st half. Sacto didn’t run many screen/rolls or many of what you might call “effective NBA basketball plays,” choosing instead to isolate match-ups they considered favorable. 

Sometimes it worked. Donte Green took Ray Allen to the rim twice. Landry burned everyone. But it’s hard to sustain offense like that, and and the Kings couldn’t.

• It’s also hard to sustain any offense when you have no three-point game, and the Kings didn’t. The C’s held Sacto to 1-of-12 from deep. There have been 68 games this season in which a team has hit 0 or 1 three-pointers, according to Basketball Reference. If these sorts of games were equally distributed around the league, we’d expect each of the 30 teams to be responsible (as a defense) for two of these clank-fests. 

But things are not equally distributed. Boston’s defense is responsible for 8 of those 68 games (12 percent), and, when you think about it, that’s pretty crazy. The next defenses in line: Houston, New Jersey (!) and Indiana, who have each pulled this off five times. 

• This represents either the evolution or devolution of NBA basketball: The Kings in the 2nd quarter played a line-up of Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson, Andres Nocioni, Francisco Garcia and Donte Greene. That line-up lacks both a traditional point guard and a traditional center, and yet, given some experience, it feels like it could be pretty scary, right? Thompson played a little point forward during a brief stretch.

• 60 points on 22-of-48 shooting for the Big Three. Remember them? 

That’s it for tonight. More tomorrow. Enjoy this one, because the next four are tough.

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Zach Lowe

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  • Jason

    How can you turn the ball over only 8 times and get THIRTEEN offensive rebounds and still have an “awful” offense? Because while one player goes 3-7 from 3, the rest of the team goes 0-10 and while you start 18-20 from the line, you finish 1-8. You shoot only 40% for the game. Some really hard to believe scoring numbers. Thank goodness the Kings went 1-12 from 3 and coughed it up 17 times.

    When you do the analysis, can you do splits before and after the midway point of the 3rd quarter? I’m mean, till that point the offense was off the charts awesome, right? And then the last 18 minutes were so bad the complete game efficiency fell like a rock. That’s just ridiculous.

    Anyway, rest up Perk. Good job starters. Not all 12 guys can play a great game every night, so we’ll give the bench a pass for one game.

    Hawks lost. Bring on SA.

  • @Jason: The efficiency #’s for a half are a little dicey, only b/c the possession sample is so low. But I may give it a shot depending on whether I’m glass of wine #1 or #2 by the end of the initial recap.

  • Jrmz

    Really didn’t like the second half. The Cs could have rested the vets for the entire fourth if they didn’t lost their lead. We’re darn lucky they didn’t have Tyreke Evans active because he gives the Kings a solid 20 PPG which would have made things alot tougher for the Cs.

    Rondo now has the regular season steals record for the club and likely he’ll grab the regular season assists record for the club as well since he only needs about 19 more which he’ll get easily within the next few games.

  • AJ

    @Jrmz Yeah, agreed it would have been nice to rest the vets but a couple things about that:
    – Scal played for the first time in ages. I enjoyed that for all it’s worth.
    – For as good as the starters are playing at the moment, collapse in the second half has been the norm, as we all know. It was still good experience to hold a lead and win a game.
    – That was DEEP bench. I mean, we would have seen Bill Walker and Giddens if they were still here. Deep.

    Inspite of collapse, it was due to the (unpracticed) inability of our 3rd line to execute. No biggie.

    On another note – I know Sheed fouled out, but I still thought he played well. I mean, he alley-oop dunked it. Sheed. And THEN blocked a shot on the other end. He showed energy! I’m happy with that.

  • rondoislove

    Sigh. I hope this second half collapse (is that too strong of a word?) is something they’ll focus on as this season comes to an end. This can’t happen in the playoffs! This Sacto team is also took the Lakers into overtime (if i remember correctly, they could’ve beaten them if Kobe hadn’t made a game-tying buzzer beater at the end of regulation). I understand this was a bad team and they were blowing them out & everything… but it’s been one of the most consistent things about the C’s in recent months. I’m glad they kept the lead and got the win though.

    Sheed, Sheed, Sheed.. I like the blocks but his rebounding was still mediocre tonight.

    Also.. according to Elias Sports Bureau as of yesterday:

    Rajon Rondo had 15 assists on Wednesday, his 6th game with 15 or more assists this season. That ties the Celtics record for most 15-assist games in one season, set by Nate Archibald in the 1979-80 season.

    So he broke two records tonight. Congrats, Rajon!

  • Jrmz

    Side comment :

    Anyone else saw the Knicks-Suns game tonight? I caught the final few minutes and poor Eddie House looked terribly unhappy. As the game wound down in the final minute, he was shooting well from 3s and had a clear shot from the top of the arc but Gallinari refused to pass the ball to him, shot his 3 and missed. Then Eddie walks back down the court real pissed, pulls off his headband and pulls out his tucked-in jersey without once turning back to look at the opponents dribbling down the court to his end. Poor guy must feel really pissed playing on such a bad team.

  • rondoislove

    Oh and Zach, if you don’t mind, could you post a clip of where Rajon passes it to Ray from foul line to foul line if/when you have time? It’s kind of too hard to just imagine that sort of thing working, especially considering it actually produced.


    Poor Eddie! I’d be pissed if I was in his position too. I really do miss him =\

  • DRJ1

    @Zach– Typo in “It happened between the 5:18 and 3:38 marks of that quarter.” I think you meant 7:18 and 3:38.

    Interesting: Doc made the exact point you made in your “Recap” section about how the downturn wasn’t just the bench, it started with the starters, etc.

    Best Doc message of the night: Pre-game, he said that they’re working KG very hard between games (hi-stress muscle building), and there have been times when he was too wiped out from that to perform in games. They don’t mind, he explained, because the goal, which they ARE achieving, is having KG at 100% for the playoffs. Music to my ears.

    As a toss-in, Doc also said he will definitely get the rotation down to 8-9 for the playoffs.

    Btw, the refs sucked worse than usual tonight.

  • rondoislove

    @ DRJ1:

    Certainly is good to hear that’s the reason behind KG’s ups and downs lately instead of “he’s getting old” and whatnot. I’m curious, now, to see what KG’s form will be come playoff time..

  • Ray Leighton

    Wow. Rondo was just unbelievably good in that first half. Despite the second half drop-off, that was still a good win, and we did it without Perk in the middle.

    KG: For weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out whether KG is slowing down from age, or whether he is still hurt. Interesting to know that he may be tired from extra work. But something else to consider: we keep talking about KG being “up and down”. We had a discussion several posts back about whether we need to lower our expectations for the Celtics. I think it may be that we have exceptionally high expectations for certain players.

    We’re used to thinking of KG as the Defensive Player of the Year, First-team All-NBA, legitimate MVP-contender, the guy who led us to a title. And for whatever reason, injury, age etc., he clearly has not been that player this year. But how much of a drop-off are we talking about?

    Over the past 10 games or so, KG is averaging close to 9 rebounds a game, and he has shot over 70% during that stretch (which given that KG’s pet shot is a mid-range jumper is impressive). That seems pretty good. The Dallas blog talked about what a good job KG did against Nowizki; other teams still recognize KG’s defensive skills.

    It turns out that if you look at KG’s +/- self/opponent for the season, he is in the same company as Duncan, Bosh, Nowitzki and Gasol.

    (btw, the last time I mentioned this statistic, there was a lot of confusion. Pardon the stats lecture; if you already know about this stuff, just skip to the end of the parentheses. I am/was not talking about +/- on/offcourt, which is the number that we usually see in a box-score. The +/- self/opponent is the the player’s overall performance, productivity etc. vs. that of the opponent, when the player is on the court. Someone made the comment that this is only one stat, which was sort of funny; it’s actually all of the stats rolled into one, and as it is a comparison of player vs. opponent, it also takes into account defense, which is why I like it, and keep referring to it.)

    Basically, any coach in the East, except possibly Toronto (?), would be eager to start KG at the 4 if he was on their team. KG looks “bad” to us on defense, but is still better at defense than say, Bosh or Nowitzki. So even though KG has had some off-nights, seems more inconsistent etc., and even though he is probably not ever going to be an MVP-contender again, he still is playing all-star level basketball. If he is doing that, even when he is not 100%, then bring on the playoffs!

    Btw, that was a terrific piece on the C’s “new” defense bringing KG as an extra defender — I really enjoy those; thanks for putting in all of that work. I also thought that this was something that we have been using a lot this season when KG is healthy — it showed up early in the season too. In fact, I have wondered if that defense is one of the reasons why Rondo’s steal number are so high. I think that Rondo is more likely to be aggressive and to take his man sideways if he knows that KG is cheating up to help him.

  • @DRJ: Thanks–it was 5:18 to 1:38. Fixed now. I was on glass of wine #2 by that point!

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