We’ve reached a point with this Boston Celtics where nothing surprises you. A week after after putting up 118 points up against the best team in the NBA, the Celtics delivered an absolute stinker against one of the worst teams in the league, the Washington Wizards, falling 106 to 96. This one wasn’t even remotely that close.
The night started fine enough, when Rajon Rondo received the Red Auerbach award before tipoff. Both teams came out relatively flat with the Celtics nursing a 12-9 lead. Then the wheels fell off the wagon and this team’s offense disappeared. The Green scored 5 points over the final 6 minutes of the frame, as the Wiz built up a 13 point lead, capped off by a Nick Young buzzer beater 3 to give themselves 30-17. How many of these kind of shots have gone against this team this year? Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.
The carnage continued into the 2nd quarter as for a span of 7:35 over two quarters, the Celtics remained scoreless, while the Wizards built on their lead, going on an 18-0 run and building a 28 point lead in the process. Shaun Livingston looked like a world beater, Audrey Blatche was having his way down low, this team looked like they were playing the Grizzlies last month, except this Wizard team is less talented.
Offensively, the Celtics were an absolute disaster for 45 minutes of this game. Most of the damage was done in the 1st half with the C’s shooting just 30 percent from the field. A breakdown, after the jump
Let’s try to break this down quickly. Kevin Garnett looked pathetic tonight. He missed several point blank opportunities around the basket, going 3 of 12 on the night for 8 points. His game has been chalk full of ups and downs lately, but this one might of been his biggest downer of the year thus far.
There was no aggressiveness or sense of urgency in the rest of the C’s offense all night. Rondo, Pierce and Ray all had their chances and came up largely empty. Pierce was 2 of 8, Ray 1 of 4 from deep, (2 of 8 for the game) and the team overall just 20 percent from deep in the 1st half to compound the scoring issues on their way to a 31 point half, a season low for them.
The biggest offenders early however, may have been the C’s bench which scored just 2 points on 1 of 9 shooting in 38 combined minutes of play in the first 24 minutes. Big Baby, Nate, Finley, Sheed, TA couldn’t put anything resembling a competent offense. There was no rhythm, forced jump shots, missed open shots, missed free throws, just a little bit of everything. The scoring struggles by both units continued throughout the majority of the 2nd half to ensure the C’s didn’t threaten the Wiz until it was too late.
Don’t let the final score fool you either. The Celtics scored 54 points through 3 quarters and were on pace for a season low before Nate Robinson exploded for 13 points in the final 3 minutes of this one, closing the deficit to 6 with 48 seconds left. The Wiz hit their free throws though late and made sure the C’s would get no closer
We also haven’t even talked about the C’s defense yet, which appeared incapable of neutralizing the Wizards for more than a couple possessions at a time. Wizards dominated the glass (49-40) and hit big shot after big shot when it mattered, led by a career high 25 points for Shaun Livingston, who has appeared to come full circle after going down with a devasting knee injury in a Clipper uniform 3 years back.
As a team, the Wiz shot 48.7 percent, got to the line routinely (35 attempts on evening) and were extremely unselfish with the basketball (25 assists) in what the local play by play Wizards man declared, the team’s best game of the year since the Caron Butler trade.
And here’s the thing about this Celtic team right now. A lot of bad teams are having their “best games of the year” against this squad. That’s not a concidence. This team is vulnerable to younger, hungrier players. They are capable of laying an egg, any night, against anyone.
The sense of urgency may change come playoff time, but the flaws are out there and they are glaring. The ups and downs are there will be there, throughout the playoffs, no matter how far this team goes, unless they can figure out how to be consistent. It hasn’t happened for four months now and these guys are frankly running out of time to gain any semblence of momentum entering the 1st round next weekend.
I will say though, the only potential positive tonight, was the offensive firepower exhibited by Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson at the end of this contest, combining for 21 points in the final 3:30 of play. Whether this rediscovered confidence will carry over is up for debate, but given how this season has gone thus far, I wouldn’t count on it.
More to come tomorrow……