Pace: 88 possessions (snoozefest)
Offensive Efficiency: 115.9 points/100 possessions (much better than league best)
Defensive Efficiency: 102.3 points allowed/100 possessions (eh)
“They still had three Hall of Famers out there.” – Josh Smith
He’s so right. For the second night in a row, this team proved that it doesn’t need everything to go right, or even most things, as long as there are at least three Hall of Famers out there. When there are gaps in the roster, the remaining players step up to fill them in, even playing out of position like Pierce did at the point tonight. When certain aspects of the system aren’t working well (Pierce attacking the rim), the players compensate by leaning extra hard on the parts that are (Ray Allen, Glen Davis).
Remember when Shaq put Al Horford in his belly three weeks ago? The C’s didn’t have him tonight, and it didn’t matter. Notice that the Hawks took 24 free throws to the C’s 11 tonight? You probably didn’t. The Celtics gave you no reason to care about that. The offense gave up on drawing fouls at the rim because everyone was getting good looks from farther out, except Nate Robinson, because what constitutes a good look for Nate Robinson is a very complex philosophical matter. No, we’re not done with him.
The C’s blew out the Hawks in their last outing because the Hawks reacted to an early Celtic run by quitting the game. Tonight, the C’s answered Hawk runs with runs of their own. At the turn of the 4th quarter, the Hawks made a few jumpers to close the lead to two. The Celtics answered with Ray Allen steals in consecutive possessions, a throwback offensive rebound from Baby, a jumpball won by Nate over Jeff Teague, and seven unanswered points on behalf of Baby, Nate, and Semih.
Speaking of Ray Allen getting his team going…
ENJOY THIS SEQUENCE
It’s like somebody wrote that sequence for maximum comedy effect. So awesome.
ZERO FOR ELEVEN
That’s Josh Smith on the floor in two games against the C’s this year. In the last game, I wrote this about KG defending Smith:
“For much of the early game, it wasn’t that Smith couldn’t find a good shot, it was that his teammates couldn’t find him…KG was great and all, but he may not have been as great as Josh Smith was bored.”
MAN was that not what happened tonight. KG was completely zonked after last night’s game, but that put him in this kind of half-asleep homicidal rage against Smith all evening. He had this dead look in his eyes, like the thought of how much grief he might cause his fellow man was boring to him. It took me a while to find it on Google Image but here it is:
Don’t blame Josh Smith. If that face were guarding you, you too would miss shots from 0, 2, 5, 6, 17, 19, 23, and 26 feet.
NOW FOR THE TEACHABLE MOMENTS
You know a player is making dumb mistakes when there’s nothing for a coach to say afterwards other than “Please never do that again.” Like that time when Nate Robinson passed the ball to Mike Bibby to open up a fast break, then caught up to Marvin Williams just in time to gently foul him on the butt as he laid the ball in.
Or when the Celtics almost forced a backcourt violation, only to watch helplessly as Nate CHASED THE BALL DOWN TO SAVE IT FROM CROSSING HALFCOURT and then immediately passed it to Mike Bibby again. What do you say about those things if you’re Doc Rivers? Do you just not speak to Nate for the rest of the game? He had six turnovers tonight, and they weren’t forced passes at the end of the shot clock: according to the ESPN play-by-play they happened with 9, 16, 11, 22, 9, and 20 seconds remaining. Without Shaq in the game to draw defenders inside, Nate had a lot of trouble finding his teammates. He also shot badly tonight, both in terms of his selection and execution, but he managed to make that a secondary issue.
Commenters have defended Nate because “he’s not Rajon Rondo.” No argument there, fellas. My issue with Nate is that his decision-making abilities are such that he should not be the person who spends the most time controlling the ball, especially in a game without an effective center to spread the floor. Yes, it’s one game, but this is a guy with a reputation for poor decisions and who physically cannot see over defenders. Yes, sometimes his poor decisions, like a pull-up three on a two-on-one break, lead to good results. That doesn’t mean we should congratulate him for taking these shots, because more often than not he’s costing the team points. We should be cognizant of the fact that this is a team with a system based on ball movement (at least among the starters), and Nate has shown little interest in conforming to that system when he runs the offense.
This is what confuses me about people who defend Nate: his brand of basketball is a major reason why most Celtics fans didn’t like Nate when he played on the Knicks, so I don’t see why we should be more understanding now that he’s on the team. Logically, we should probably be less.
Nate Robinson is a very talented player. I like him a lot as a person. I kind of enjoyed one of his dunk contest victories. But Doc shouldn’t be afraid take the ball out of his hands. I understand Rondo and Delonte are out, but things worked better tonight when Pierce brought it up.
(Also, I’m about 85% sure this is the second time this season Nate heroically prevented a backcourt violation on defense. I’d love it if somebody could tell me that I’m right about this.)
OH RIGHT, THIS
I don’t see Baby getting fined for that, needless to say. This is what happened: when Baby intentionally fouls someone, he courteously holds onto their shoulders so they don’t go flying out of bounds. But Pachulia took this as an opportunity to do everything but blow a rape whistle on Davis so he could draw a flagrant foul. And you know what? I bought it before I saw the replay. It was too crazy not to be real. And look how Baby reacts like a spurned lover in that video. He seems actually hurt that Pachulia didn’t understand that Baby was trying to help him. All the major dramatic elements were on the floor at that moment.
Baby was awesome. That balance we were looking for a few weeks ago?
Yeah, we’re good. Let’s celebrate Semih’s points and panic over Semih’s rebounding in the comments.