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The Ship Be Sinking? Hornets 83 Celtics 81 (Full Recap)

 

ESPN Box ScoreHornets 247At The Hive

The headline overstates it.

The good ship Celtics is not about to get swept under the waves. But it is taking on water.

So, everybody better get used to being wet.

Portrait Of The Coach As An Exasperated Man

True, the effort against the Hornets was far from impressive, and true, Doc Rivers seemed particularly perturbed at his starters (although if you parse his post-game comments, you’ll see he’s actually pointing the finger at Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and perhaps Nate Robinson, who finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists after a series of poor games).

But games like these are the price to be paid for having 60% of your starting rotation on the injured list.

Still, Pierce did underachieve. He turned the ball over six times, nearly lost it a seventh time on the final play (which was the oft-effective flare for Ray Allen off a pick), and made only three shots after halftime.

The captain ended up calling himself out after the game:

“Maybe Paul Pierce has to do a better job in stepping up his game,” Pierce said in third person. “I really didn’t come to play to today, evident when you look up, six turnovers, but we only lose by two. The responsibility is on the guys out on the floor.”

Pierce generally mans-up when he turns in a shoddy performance but I have to think this little self-analysis was prompted by some choice post-game words from Rivers, who isn’t about to let the absence of two all-stars (his most important players) and his elite defensive center lower expectations about where the check should go in the win-loss column.

It’s the only way to approach it. The team needs high expectations to have any chance of succeeding. But for fans and media, it’s a different story. We can more readily deal in what is, rather than what should be.

The real problem here is that against the majority of teams in this league, neither Pierce nor Allen can afford to have an off-game right now if the Celtics expect to win. Pierce has been superb in recent games, while Allen (30.3% on three-balls since Rajon Rondo’s ankle sprain) has been merely ordinary.

Rivers needs them both to bring it every night until some combination of Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Delonte West are back with the team.

Other Thoughts:

  • We shouldn’t be surprised if Rondo misses more than just another few games. There is no reason to rush him back besides desperation. Thursday on WEEI, Danny Ainge noted that his point guard was still experiencing pain on both sides of his ankle and wouldn’t play until he could play hard. Given how easily a severe ankle sprain can be re-aggravated, the C’s conservative approach to injuries and the organization’s orientation towards the playoffs above all, it would seem a bad idea to run him out this coming week, with so many games and key point guard matchups on the docket. Do you really want to see a tentative Rondo going one-on-one with Tony Parker (Wednesday) and the borderline un-guardable Derrick Rose (Saturday)?
  • Marquis Daniels has responded brilliantly the last few games as he’s been forced into higher pressure situations and longer minutes. Once again, Daniels brought a controlled focus to his play and stuffed up the box score with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and only 1 turnover in 25 heady minutes. Make no mistake, the C’s are going through a miserable stretch right now, but Daniels is finally looking like the player he was for the first month of the 2009-10 season. Imagine the the same Daniels you’ve been watching this last week playing with a fully healthy West on the second unit. It’s an exciting prospect for the Celtics.
  • Rivers took the opportunity to flay Davis after the game, something we’ve seen little of this season, but that has been a regular occurrence since Davis came into the league. Let’s be honest here – Davis sucked in this game and took off afterwards before the media could rightly ask about his poor effort on defense and (anti) hero ball on offense. But Friday’s game aside, hasn’t Davis earned a single bad outing? Or even a terrible one? He has been tremendous all year. Even his harshest critics will give him that. If things go downhill for him this month, I think we can revisit this issue with suitable venom, but I’m willing to write off Friday’s problems as the inevitable byproduct of mentally tired players on a broke-down team making mistakes. Are you?
  • Von Wafer. Rivers and Garnett must do some kinda voodoo because Wafer has impressed on the defensive end for about five games in a row. He looks like he’s completely bought into the Celtics’ defensive cult, even moreso than Robinson, who was this season’s previous success story (for a while, anyway). And Wafer has also shown hints of a useful off-the-dribble game. Color me intrigued if not expectant.
  • Also, solid work from Jermaine O’Neal and Luke Harangody. Both put in good efforts; in particular it’s worth singling out Harangody who played his heart out and should gain confidence from being part of the key fourth quarter run that brought the Celtics back. Let’s hope so, anyway. He’s going to be needed as soon as tomorrow night in Toronto.

So, that’s a wrap for this one. Lots more coming this first weekend of the new year, including the Raptors game tomorrow, a look ahead at the rough waters to come in January later today, and our weekly look back at a classic Celtics game from the past.

  • Batman

    We really need a win over the raptors ands establish something. While we may lose to some over .500 teams due to injury we can’t waste games and get losses to under and .500 teams

  • DRJ1

    Steve Bulpett says the team has reached a "tipping point" with the loss of KG. I have to agree. There comes a time when the team is "the Celtics" in name only. That time is now, I believe. Two starters and a bunch of fill-ins is not "the Celtics." I'm sure they'll hang on (what choice do they have?), and probably – well, hopefully – play at least .500 ball till the team is reasonably whole again.

    I figure it might be as much as about 4-6 weeks before both KG and Rondo are up to speed again. That's when they'll be "the Celtics" again.

    About Davis: You say he certainly has earned the right to have one bad game. Everybody has them. Very true/completely agree. But Davis' 3 in the waning seconds of the Hornets game — which he took after taking an extra moment to think about it — goes beyond "a bad day", or even "one bad play."

    All mistakes are NOT created equal…. just as in life. People make mistakes all the time. But SOMETIMES their mistakes land them in prison, or worse. Some "mistakes" are even considered capital crimes — and betray deep-rooted character flaws we consider dangerous.

    Well, Davis' 3 was on that level. It showed very clearly that he hasn't grown up yet, that he is at heart unreliable. This isn't a call to lock him up or anything. I'm sure he will continue to improve, etc., etc. But RIGHT NOW, he has proven that he's not up to par. Not yet. That 3 was INEXCUSABLE.

    • ElRoz

      3 starters…Perkins is out too….that's three starters and probably the 3 best defensive guys on the team – Perkins led in blocked shots, Garnett is Garnett, but he also averaged 1.75 steal…Rondo averaged 2.35 steals…the ran the offense. I am worried about how this team is going to score now against ANYBODY – Toronto, Minnesota they both worry me; I'm not even thinking about SA or Chicago…Doc should just play his bench more and save the remaining 2 starters against SA and Chicago…no point exhausting Pierce and Allen in a loss.
      The more I see how the offense stagnates w/o Rondo the more I agree with keeping him away right now…screw the home court advanatage – if that's what will happen…w/o him at close to 100% they could not hold the home court anywat; with him at close to 100% they can win anywhere.

    • Ryan DeGama

      @DRJ1 – The problem with your line of thinking on Baby, besides equating Baby's mistakes to capital crimes, is that maturity doesn't come in a straight line. There will be traces of the old Glen Davis there. Yesterday was an unfortunate reminder that, despite all his growth this year, and it's clearly just that, he remains a work in progress.

      But at least we get the progress, you know?

      • DRJ1

        Actually, I think we agree perfectly. He is a work in progress.

        But if he does it again, i say fry the bastard. :)

        • Chris O

          Haha sweet!!!! lol

  • Stephen

    Big Baby has been pretty solid for the most part this year and deserves some credit here. The problem is the huge mental mistake. Hoisting 3's is not his job. Leave that to Ray, Paul or Nate. The entire team played like crap down the stretch especially Pierce. Once Rondo comes back the offense will start to flow again.

  • Darren

    We have a long time before the playoffs start, no need to worry yet. Baby will get back to the bench (where he has become a very effective sixth man) and we will get our PGs back. Kind of pointless to engage in attempts at meaningful analysis at this point. We don't even know what the rotation will be yet.

  • Chris O

    Haha love the title Ryan. After my last comment the Sky is Falling on the other article you say no but then the Ship is Sinking lol. Obviously this is hyberbole….we just need to hold on to at least the #2 spot this year

  • debbie

    i want the Celtics back where did they go. the ones out there on that floor in green sure isn't the celtics need to get rid of these imposters and bring back the boys i don't like getting wet and this boat is sinking very fast come on celtics please come back…

  • Morpheus

    Mature my ASS. Baby had no business taking that 3 EVER. He does it again…..EXECUTE HIM.

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