The recap last night was brief and slightly pessimistic. Instead of the Championship resiliency our good friend over at ESPN Boston Chris Forberg saw, I saw a team that struggles mightily on the second night of back-to-backs.
But that was last night and just so everyone can start their Friday off with some warm-fuzzy-green feelings, here are some highlights that won’t make Rod Thorn happy. Some of these highlights include exciting and encouraging signs on both ends of the floor while some are just merely interesting. I would love to hear everyone’s take on these clips.
First up, the game winner from Kevin Garnett. This play, like so many others before it, is yet another example of Doc Rivers‘ ability to draw up and call the correct play at the correct time. Furthermore, his players have complete trust in him to make the correct call. No egos. No second guessing. Rivers calls a play and the players go out and execute. Or they don’t and they move on. Last night, they executed:
This is the perfect example of how playing off of Rajon Rondo can seriously hurt a team. Because Rondo is no threat to shoot, Jrue Holiday goes under the Kevin Garnett screen. When KG begins to roll, Holiday is caught too far underneath and is forced to switch on to Garnett creating the obvious mismatch. Meanwhile, no one is covering Rajon Rondo because most teams would pay him to take a potential game winning jumpshot.
Next up, a shot about which I totally thought I’d be writing paragraphs and paragraphs. Little did I know there would be a game winning lob to KG to watch ad nauseum:
No sooner had Ray Allen‘s feet left the ground than I was saying, “How do you leave Ray Allen wide open?” And he was. It even took Glen Davis a couple of seconds to collect himself and realize that no one was guarding Allen. After the play, there was a timeout on the floor and as the game went to commercial, Reggie Miller repeated what I had said aloud in my office. Whenever I am anywhere and get caught saying something completely obvious, I know somewhere five seconds later Reggie Miller is going to repeat it.
While the Celtics really tightened up their defense with eight minutes to go in the fourth, they really never hit their offensive stride. In the final eight minutes, the Celtics went 5-for-12 and prior to Ray Allen’s three with a minute left, the Celtics scored eight points. All but two of those points (Paul Pierce jumper) came from Allen.
This next one is just a gratuitous clip of a nasty Rondo read:
When you are a quiet rookie, it’s easy to get lost out there. On the other hand, being seven feet tall and white enough to reflect the overhead lights in a way that blinds courtside spectators should not offer any consolation to the Sixers. Plus Jodie Meeks is an AWFUL defender. Plays like these are constant reminders of how lucky Celtics fans are to have Rondo directing traffic.
Here is a set of plays in which Baby plays great defense on the taller Spencer Hawes and then follows up with a contested layup on the other end.
Davis gambles a bit on the entry pass and at the time I thought Hawes would just turn the corner and lay the ball in. Instead, Davis was able to recover and use his mitt to guide Hawes into thinking his angle had been cut off. Hawes turns the other way and takes a fade-away jumper as Davis throws his hand up right in his face. The shot back-rims, Garnett collects, and the Celtics are off to the races.
On the offensive side of the ball, Davis actually muffs this play at first. Rondo drives down the left side of the lane and Thaddeus Young plays inexplicably bad defense by following Andre Iguodala over to Rondo’s side to cut off the penetration. I understand you have to respect Rondo’s drive, but three Sixers surround Rondo with Young doing virtually nothing. If Davis fields this pass cleanly, it’s an easy layup. The bungle is discouraging but the recovery is the opposite. Last season, Davis would have forced this ball up expecting a foul call (that would not come) and then get his shot blocked. This season, he is using his bulk so much better and is concentrating on finishing his shots at the rim.
This last clip is a healthy dose of the “good stuff” for Rondo-addicts:
Elton Brand wants the isolation on Kevin Garnett and he thinks Rondo has followed Evan Turner through the lane and to the other side. Unbeknownst to Brand, Rondo cheats up on the other side and pokes the ball away. Again, the Cs are off to races.
On the other end of the floor, Rondo sees an open Ray Allen and before Andre Iguodala can recover completely, Allen is already up and firing. When I first saw this play, I was convinced that it was Turner who was late in recovering. I planned on waxing poetic about the lessons rookies’ learn throughout their first year that help them mature into strong NBA players. Then I watched it again, saw it was Iggy, and just chalked it up to Rondo and Ray both being who they are.
Bonus Clip: When will teams consistently stop falling for this?
That’s all I got. Now tell me what I missed.