Post-game Reactions

Make no mistake about it, the Celtics lost a winnable game last night.  For most of the game, the Celtics played as their fans felt.  Steven Tyler of Aerosmith put it best in a quick sideline interview with Comcast Sports Net’s sideline reporter Greg Dickerson when he said, “they’ll turn it around.  Look, it’s 82-82 now,  just watch this.” It was an easy assumption to make.

The Celtics were heavily favored.  They had just handily defeated the projected Eastern Conference Champion the previous night and they were playing a Cavalier team with a lackluster roster.  Despite all of the perceived advantages for the Celtics, the Cavaliers came out and beat them in nearly a wire-to-wire win.  After the game, Ray Allen put it best (via the Boston Globe):

“You have to play four quarters,’’ Allen said. “It’s opening night for them. I just think we took them too lightly. We didn’t continue to execute and do the things we’re capable of doing for the entirety of the game. A call doesn’t go our way and then the game was tight and ended up going in their favor.’’

The Celtics absolutely took the Cavaliers too lightly.  They neglected to plan for J.J. Hickson‘s athleticism.  They allowed the Cavaliers to shoot open jumpers by not closing out hard.  They felt they could run the Cavaliers out of the building and did not feel the need to execute their offense efficiently in the half court.  Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett both got caught trying to make SportsCenter’s Top Plays.  Both committed turnovers that led to Cavalier points.  Nate Robinson felt as if he could out-run and out-finish every Cavalier and missed three layups in the process.

Last night was not Celtic basketball.

Or was it.

Doc Rivers pointed out after the game something that should remain in the back of anyone’s mind who follows this team closely (same Globe Article):

“When we got a lead, you could see us relax, you could feel it,’’ he said. “It’s more the mental toughness part as a group. I didn’t like the way we played for a lot of the game. We’re a better team than that.”

They were a better team than “that” last year too.  They still took games off during the regular season yet they still made it to the Finals.  Most people agree that the Celtics cannot do what they did last year and still reach the Finals.  They have to put at least a small amount of stock into the regular season if they want to get back to the Finals.

The second game of the season may not mean much now, but it should.  As Zach Lowe pointed out back in August, the Celtics have 19 back-to-back games and a team’s winning percentage is already .430 for back-to-backs.  Already at a disadvantage, this is all the more reason the Celtics need to hold on to these winnable games.

Greg Payne of Celtics Blog fame likes to think positively:

“I don’t think last night’s loss, in any way, means this team is diverting down the path it took last season. We can’t say that after just one loss. It had the makings of a perfect trap game”.

Calling last night’s game a “trap game” may be true, but it’s mostly just convenient.  The Celtics flat-out lost a game due to lack of effort.  What happens when they start to lose games due to injuries, stamina, age, athleticism…you get the point.

The Celtics need to stockpile wins while they still can and this is all the more reason why last night’s performance cannot become a habit.

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  • John (in Lakersland)

    For the 24 people (as of 2pm EST) who voted in today's poll that the Celts will win more than 60 games this year:


    No team will win 60 this year. I could see Orlando or Lakers (maybe the Heats if they get it together) winning high 50's, but 60 is really stretching it this year for any team. It's just stupid blind admiration to think that the Celts can pull that off, even if healthy all year. But with the injuries that WILL besiege your team… no way. 50-54 wins. That's good enough for 3rd or 4th in the East.

    • JayAllDay

      And what necessarily qualifies the lakers to be a 60 win team? Their starting lineup aint no spring chickens their self. Kobe's 32, Gasol's 30, Ron Ron's 30, and D Fish is drawing social security. True they won the chip the last two years but they by no means dominated the celts…..and they didnt even win 60 last year.

    • the_dude_abides

      I'm a Laker fan too and I voted 55-60 wins for Boston. I think their main competition for the top seed in the East will be Orlando and not Miami, who will take too long to gel. Boston looks a lot deeper this year, plus some of the newer guys like Daniels and Nate Rob will have been in their system longer. I also think home court advantage for Boston will be more important in the playoffs vs Miami, and not Orlando. I don't think you can trust two of Orlando's starters in a high-pressure series against the Celtics, and I doubt Boston would be worried about Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, either.

  • sacbobv

    I know it's still early in the season, but the carrying the high turnover habit from last year to this year is going to give me ulcers. Celts have got to work on eliminating that one harder.

  • Chris O

    I'm not ready to jump off the Tobin, or say this will continue, but this stinks of last year. I always believed last year that they still had a realistic shot to Win it All (and I was not being a Yahoo). But this year they need to really try to get the highest seed they can. I do not think it is going to be easy at all for them to have to go to Orlando and then MIA (or vice versa) and win two road series. I am enthused by KG's rebounding and athleticism being back tho….

  • Morpheus

    Effing damn right this CANNOT become a habit.They got away with it last season but they will not be able to pull that stunt again if they want to reach the finals and we all know(Celtics fans) that anything short of banner 18 is a failure.I feel it all started with the starters,they never really set the tone and Hickson was schooling KG left ,right and centre.KG rebounded well last night but i think he took Hickson too lightly.In fact the whole team took them too lightly,except for Big Baby.There was definitely a drop off(understatement) in intensity last night and the intensity,passion and competitiveness we displayed against Miami did not carry over against Cleveland.

  • Morpheus

    It pisses me off we still take these "winnable" games too lightly,it really drives me nuts(understatement)
    Anywho,how good was Baby last night,he came to play,he always does.His post game has really improved,i loved watching him perform last night.Other than giving up a couple offensive boards to Varejao and Hollins,he was aggresive offensively and certainly went out to compete to win.
    We cannot take NY lightly, that's another team that will kick your ass if you do.Bury them early and never look back.Compete for 4 quarters not 2.
    That tech called on Nate……..what BS.The goaltending call on KG…….that was a clean block.Nate needs to stop chucking too he really is killing our offensive flow.When he entered the game,i think we were up 5-6,he took 2-3 quick stupid shots and the Cavs cut the lead down to 2.
    Can't wait for Delonte to come back.

  • KBA

    fast teams will continue to cause problems… cavs, hawks, etc. prob ny under d'antoni as well

  • Morpheus

    Oh yeah it hit me last night that we lost to the Cavs without Bron and Mo,with a starting lineup consisting of Moon and Parker and a bench of Boobie,Jawad Williams,Jamison-off night for him no less and Hollins.Talk about adding insult to injury.

  • Jon Mullen

    i'm trying to convince myself that last night was a hangover from opening night and that may very well be true. but the offense was subpar in both games. too many turnovers(nothing new) and no movement down the stretch. we have such a strong front court we need to use it. this team isn't going to win with pierce iso's and three's from ray and nate. they need to get the ball down low and exert their size. the big guys can draw double teams then kick out to the perimeter rather than jacking shots off of feeds from the point. how many teams have the size to cover shaq/kg kg/baby etc.? Probably only the lakers and the magic. it's time to slow it down and get the ball to the big guys and enforce our will.

  • Jamie

    No excuses. A team starting Hickson, Verejao, Moon, parker and Sessions should have been run off the court by this roster by halftime. No way that group should even be in the game on a normal night. Totally a mailed in effort where they thought they could just roll the ball out and win.

  • 'SotaCsFan

    Allen said it right, they took them too lightly, just cuz the cav's were a one pony show the last few years and that pony left, doesnt mean they suck, they have some real quality players, and Hickson was great last night. Cav's deserved the win, the C's did not. John, I think you may have something there about teams not being able to win 60, but saying the Fakers are more likely to do it than the C's is a reach. The heat could do it if they can get it together, but seeing how far they have to go to be a cohesive unit I dont think so. (PS. I think it is a crock that the Flaker's count the Ships they won in 'Sota in their total count, those chips have nothing to do with LA-LA land)

    • 'SotaCsFan

      PS. How does the new "over emotional" tech work, how come Verejao(sideshowbob) not get T-ed up for hoping around after one of the calls? If it had been KG or Perk i bet they would have been out of the game.

    • the_dude_abides

      Same franchise. Punishing a team for being located out west, when the country was settled from east to west, is so east-centric and so old. The Dodgers, A's, Colts, Rams, etc. all count their championships from other cities, and if the Gnats win the World Series, they'll count their 1954 championship as part of their franchise total as well.

      But if you really want to nitpick, a better idea than yours would be counting everything before the 1976-77 season as the old NBA, and establishing that season as the beginning of the modern NBA (first season of the NBA-ABA merger). Seriously, the majority of Boston's championships took place when there were only EIGHT teams in the league. It's like the pre-1920 dead ball era in baseball. So with the modern NBA, the Lakers have 11 championships, the Bulls six, and the Celtics four. Or else you can credit championships the way every other sport does, to the franchise. Seventeen for the Celtics, 16 for the Lakers, six for the Bulls.

  • Hit the nail on the head here Brendan. It wasn't the complacency at the beginning of the game that caused the C's problems, it was once they got a comfortable lead. It happened against Miami as well, but the margin was big enough to offset that.

  • Lana J kalaf

    I agree with Adrian, why can't the Celtics finish a game, they are a very talented team, and certainly can figure the offense of their opponents well enough to defend better than they do late in games. At times heir defense looks so strong and then it falls apart. No disrespect intended, but J. O'Neil looked weak in Miami, why would he suddenly look better in Boston, he is constantly plagued by injuries (another Manny?) Also nate Robinson needs to STOP taking long shots in close games because he is consistently missing.

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