Following the Celtics’ 107-103 victory over Golden State, I thought we’d recap the game by answering a few related questions. Let’s get started.
Why was this a close game, again?
The short answer is rebounding and bench. The Warriors outrebounded the Celtics by 11, and consequently attempted 11 more shots. And Monta Ellis isn’t exactly a guy you want to be giving a whole bunch of extra shots to. He continues to go relatively unnoticed, but Ellis is averaging 25 ppg and is flat-out one of the best scorers in the league.
As for the Celtics’ bench…it still seems a little weird watching the 2nd unit play together. And that’s saying something when you consider all the injuries the Celtics have suffered this season. Doc Rivers still needs to figure out his rotation as we head into the final two months of the season, and right now it seems pretty unclear. Nenad Kristic is looking more and more like he is going to be a reliable center for this team, which certainly will have an impact on the rest of “big man” rotation. As for the guards, unless Delonte West proves he can stay healthy, the Celtics are a bit weak in this area.
What can we realistically expect from Jeff Green?
Tonight we saw best-case-scenario Jeff Green. He was extremely efficient (8-11 FG, 5-5 FT). He was energetic and communicated on defense. He created his own offense when he had to, but otherwise fit quite nicely into the system. Sure, he could have pulled down more than 1 rebound. But wherever Danny Ainge was sitting, I’m sure there was a smile on his face tonight.
With that being said, it would be unrealistic to expect this kind of performance from Green on a nightly basis (one reason being that the Celtics won’t have the Warriors guarding them in most games). While Green certainly is a talented offensive player, he has no automatic component to his game. There will be nights when his jump shot is off, and there will be nights when his height disadvantage will make it difficult for him to score inside. I’m prepared for both of those scenarios. But over the last 3 seasons, Green has steadily averaged 15 ppg and 6 rebounds, and I don’t see why he can’t replicate that type of production with the Celtics.
The thing that struck me most of about Green’s game tonight? His youth. Watching him run up and down the court. Finishing off highlight-reel alley-oops from Rajon Rondo. He brings a different element to the Celtics’ offense that I just realized they’ve been missing for a long time now. As efficient as the Big Three are, they can’t exactly jump out of the gym anymore. Green gives them another option when a play breaks down or the offense is stalling. And when he and Rondo truly get on the same page, I think we’re going to see even more of his ability shine through.
How effortlessly did Ray Allen and Paul Pierce each just score 27 points?
A lot has been written about Pierce’s incredible efficiency this season and Allen’s career-year from the 3-point line. But for some reason, I still find myself in awe of these guys. It seemed like neither guy barely broke a sweat tonight, but at the end of the game, there they were with 27 points apiece. Ray carried the Celtics in the first-half, scoring 20 points and making 8 of the 9 shots he took. In the 3rd quarter, Pierce simply took advantage of mismatches and got a bunch of easy buckets. Stephen Curry? Post you up. Vladimir Radmanovic? Blow right past you. Pierce made all 8 of his free-throws and added 7 rebounds.
Speaking of Curry, is it wrong that I officially think his jump-shot is prettier than Ray’s?
Ray gets “degree of difficulty” points because he jumps higher off the ground and releases the ball at its apex. Which technically is exactly what you’re supposed to do when shooting a basketball. But man, the way the ball comes out of Curry’s hands…I could watch that all day.
Where is Troy Murphy going to get his minutes from?
Murphy only played 12 minutes tonight, failed to score a point, and recorded 2 rebounds and 2 assists. For all the excitement that accompanied his buyout/contract signing with the Celtics, is this guy even going to be a factor once the playoffs start? It’s certainly still early, but at this point I would have to say no. Considering Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis were not in uniform tonight, it was still hard for Doc to find minutes for Murphy. He definitely is going to help this team in its effort to secure the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but unless there is an injury to one of the bigs, it seems to me he’s the odd man out.
What is Von Wafer’s status?
Wafer is supposed to miss a few days with a strained right calf. He injured it after landing awkwardly on right leg following a made jump-shot early in the 2nd quarter. Obviously, this news is disappointing for the Celtics, who are already without Delonte West for a little while longer. But even more so, it has to be frustrating for Wafer, who recently has asserted himself as a reliable offensive threat coming off the bench.