The Celtics’ final prayer rested on a double-covered Kevin Garnett turnaround 18-footer. Why Rajon Rondo did not go to Paul Pierce–who looked wide-open right in front of him–no one will ever know. Rondo gets a pass for both the inbounds play and the missed wide-open three a play before that would have tied the game.
He gets a pass because the Celtics would not have had an opportunity to take the last shot had he not snagged an offensive rebound a few plays earlier. In the end, Mavericks’ forward Dirk Notwitzki proved too much for the Celtics in the final frame. After playing a dismal first half, the Celtics roared back and appeared to have the game in control. That was before heavy legs prevailed. Notwizki routinely found his way to the basket and hit the game winner after securing a favorable switch on to the smaller Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
The writing was on the wall with five minutes to go in the fourth. The Celtics started having trouble scoring the ball and on the defensive end, they let the Mavericks’ guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd turn the corner at will. Any air the Celtics had in their chests after battling back in this game was quickly deflated when Terry hit a game-tying three as Ray Allen looked too tired to close-out properly.
No matter how you write it, the Celtics have suffered their second loss of the season, both losses coming on the second game of a back-to-back. I am starting to think 19 back-to-backs could really spell out the regular season for the Celtics.
* * *
Let’s do some quick bullets and call it a night. It’s too early in the season to dwell on two-point losses:
- First thing is first. Let’s talk about Tyson Chandler. It’s annoying when Chandler has a good game. He’s the perfect example of a player who should be disliked. He is a one-trick pony that came into the NBA straight from high school and never tried to make himself into a basketball player. A great ad campaign would be to take a Rajon Rondo highlight reel and affix an appropriate caption to it. Something like “Rajon Rondo is faster than you” accompanied by the highlight of him chasing down Rodney Stuckey from behind and just taking the ball away. Or “Rajon Rondo is smarter than you” and pairing it with anyone of his spectacular assists. Or “Rajon Rondo is both smarter and faster than you” and putting it with his inbounds steal and near buzzer beater to end tonight’s first half. The extent of an ad devoted to Tyson Chandler would be his highlight reel of overly dramatic put-back dunks with the caption “Tyson Chandler is taller than you”. Lots of NBA players lack certain skills or do not develop into the stars they were projected to be, but not all of them do what they’re supposed to do with so much bravado. Take his block on Glen Davis in the tail end of the second quarter. Davis is forced to drive in and try and squeak a ball past Chandler and the uber-athletic Shawn Marion. Chandler gets the block and then instead of joining his team on the fastbreak, he stands there and admires his work. Congratulations Tyson, you just blocked a guy who got his shot blocked 25% of the time at the rim last season (82games.com)
- Putting Marquis Daniels on Jason Terry in the first quarter was an underrated move by Doc Rivers. Probably the best strategy the Thunder employed against the Celtics last night was utilizing their taller points guards in Eric Maynor and Russell Westbrook on the diminutive Robinson. The Thunder’s advantage was on the offensive end. For the Celtics, the opposite was true tonight. Terry is an explosive offensive player and Daniels is a savvy defender. It was pretty clear Terry did not welcome Daniels’ length. In the fourth quarter, Rivers had to use Rajon Rondo on Terry so Allen could guard the bigger Jason Kidd. I cannot say I disagreed with this move–the heights matchup a little too perfectly– but I can say that it wasn’t as effective as having Daniels’ length close out on Terry’s jumpshots.
- If Nate Robinson isn’t scoring he can quickly become a liability. After a poor showing defending JJ Barea to start the game, he recovered and played one-on-one defense pretty well. The problem becomes very apparent when he has to help out on guys like Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki. The sheer size difference make Robinson completely helpless. His continued poor play will make for an interesting situation when Delonte West comes back from suspension. In all likelihood, West will assume the point guard duties and Robinson will be free to allude defenders on his way to wide-open threes.
- The Mavericks did a great job of not allowing Ray Allen to get open. Usually, Allen is able to make his defenders pay no matter which way they play the screen. The Maverick defenders, however, were too quick tonight and instead of Ray having the ability to lose his defender when they going over the pick, they were able to follow him and recover by the time he received the ball. As a result, Allen only took two threes and one, if not both, was in transition.
- It was encouraging to see Semih Erden play well on the pick-and-roll. Kevin Garnett is not looking to roll to the basket and Jermaine O’Neal just isn’t involved in the pick-and-roll offense. It’s nice to see opposing players disrespect Erden enough to give him wide-open layups. I doubt he cares about the respect as long as he’s able to put up four shots a game.
- Good things happen when you deflect errant passes. One particular exchange in the third quarter had two Celtic deflections which led to a rushed/contested layup from Dirk Nowitzki. Davis grabbed the rebound, quickly got it to Ray Allen on the outlet and the Celtics were off to the races. An Allen cross-court pass later and Paul Pierce had an easy layup. A slew of active hands and lazy passes culminated in two points for Boston and a noticeable momentum shift.
- The Celtics had a few plays in the second half that were enough for any fan to believe they would pull this one out. One particularly exchange was Rondo’s big finish on a leak out. The cherry picking led to a layup and a converted And1 after Jason Terry tapped Rondo on the head. After a Nowitzki easy-drive and and layup, Rondo steps into his biggest shot of the season. He knocks down the midrange jumper and the Celtics go up three with 2:30 left. It was all for naught but again, another reason why Rondo gets a pass for his play with under a minute to go.
- Another reason why Rondo gets a pass? His fifteen assists. Even in a bad game where the Celtics look like they are getting completely outplayed on the defensive end, Rondo drops 15 dimes. Keep it up.
- Twenty-four points and seven assists for Paul Pierce is a good game. Unfortunately, the missed jumpers in the second half–the ones that would have really put this game on ice– will stick out more than his actual production.
- The Celtics only had 11 turnovers and that’s after a bad first half. Hopefully these low turnover totals will be trendsetting.
- Kevin Garnett had a double double with 18 points and 15 rebounds. In Boston’s two losses, Garnett has had 15 rebounds both times. Ipso facto, KG needs to stop rebounding the ball…
That’s what I saw. What did you see?
Latest posts by Brendan Jackson (see all)
- Should the Celtics Trade for Blake Griffin or Russell Westbrook? - July 12, 2016
- Celtics Summer League Utah Takeaways: Players Going to Play - July 8, 2016
- BiyombNO! Bismack playing his way into big money… - May 24, 2016