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Not all bad: Celtics 85, Wolves 82

 

ESPN Box Score - A Wolf Among Wolves

It could be easy to rip into the Celtics’ play tonight. Giving up a 25-point lead against a 17-win team (playing without its best player in Kevin Love), is hardly excusable.  But tonight’s game wasn’t as bad as it may have felt as it was all unfolding.

The C’s shot 59% from the floor in the 1st quarter, which helped fuel a 17-0 run midway through the period…Then they went cold. After putting up 32 points in the 1st, the Celtics only managed 53 points for the remainder of the game, and finished with an overall field goal percentage of 40%.

However, as we continue to scrutinize the Celtics’ newly equipped offense, let’s not forget that this team, first and foremost, is a defensive team that relies on its ability to make open shots. Whether it be Kevin Garnett or Glen Davis from mid-range, or Paul Pierce and Ray Allen hitting timely 3-pointers, the Celtics have consistently been one of the best shooting teams in the NBA over the last few seasons.  That’s not going to change anytime soon.

Even during the 2nd and 3rd quarters, when the C’s surrendered their large lead, I thought their ball movement was still quite good. Delonte West did an admirable job filling in for the injured Rajon Rondo, and Carlos Arroyo was active in his limited role. The Celtics continued to spread the floor, make the extra pass and find the open man. But Pierce, BBD, and others struggled immensely from the field during those middle quarters.

It’s unfortunate that the Celtics’ shooting woes occurred in this game. Coming off two losses, and with a difficult week ahead, tonight would have been a great night to rest the starters during the 2nd half. But at the end of the day, when the Celtics get open looks and hold their opponents to 82 points, they are going to win games.

However, that doesn’t mean the Celtics escape all criticism tonight.

The C’s inability/refusal to attack the basket when shots weren’t falling was effectively what allowed the T-Wolves back in the game. Ultimately, Pierce and KG saved us. But they should have taken control earlier, especially with Rondo on the sideline. Pierce has too many weapons in his arsenal to settle for 3-pointers when they’re simply not falling. KG had good matchups all night and should have attempted more than 11 shots. Perhaps he suffered from Rondo not being there to feed him the ball where he likes it, but still.

Summarizing Doc Rivers’ words from the post-game interview, this team’s philosophy is to never pass up open shots. But at some point, you need to go to the post. And it wasn’t until the last stretch of the game that the Celtics made that adjustment. When his team desperately needed him, Pierce carried the C’s offense late, finishing the game with 23 points. And I give him a lot of credit for that. On back-to-back possessions, he converted an And 1; then drained a jumper from his sweet-spot on the right elbow. That’s what leaders do. And that’s how you pull out a sub-par game in late March.

No, this game did not go 100% according to plan. But a win is a win.

MORE THOUGHTS:

*** Davis stat line: 4-15 FG, 8 points, 6 rebounds, 35 minutes

Jeff Green stat line: 4-5 FG, 9 points, 2 rebounds, 19 minutes

Davis definitely has a better understanding of the defensive schemes, especially when it comes to guarding players in the post. But that’s the only reason I can think of that would explain why he played almost twice as much as Green tonight. Green made two early jumpers in the first quarter, appeared destined for a big offensive night, and then was nowhere to be found. This guy was brought here for his offense. When your team scores 32 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, it might be a good idea to give him some more time.

***I thought Delonte played very well tonight. The numbers won’t blow you away, but he seemed to have total control of the offense as he was handling the ball. Especially in the 1st quarter. Executing the pick-and-roll, running the fast break, etc. If anything, I would have liked to see him look for his own shot a little more. Nevertheless, I feel very comfortable handing the offense over to West for 15 minutes in a playoff game.

***That would be 28 points on 11-28 shooting for Michael Beasley. And to think there was a time when he was actually projected over Derrick Rose.

***Love the plethora of no-look passes from Arroyo. Keep doing your thing.

  • urbeltic

    I miss Wally Szerbiak and his ankles.

  • talesofJP

    The Celtics are under utilizing Jeff Green. Doc gave the green light to get him in the trade, he is arguably the 5th best player on this team, give him some run. It is important for Green to get some playing time now, as we will need Green, a confident Jeff Green, in the playoffs. I remember Doc talking about Nate winning a playoff game for the Celts last year, it feels similar to Green in that way. The coaching staff needs to put him in position to thrive be cause he is a valuable asset.

    • kricky

      I think he has a tough time giving him the crunch minutes because of his D.

  • kricky

    More from the "desperately searching for a silver lining department":

    Looking at the record, I noticed that the Cs have given up 90 pts or over in 2 of the last 10 games.

    A small reason for optimism??

  • James Patrick

    Only so many ways to polish a turd, but it's still a turd. I love this blog, let's just call this game what it is. It's crap. We should've beat them by 20. No excuses. You wanna make excuses? You might as well go root for the Lakers because that's what they do when they play like this. They make excuses.

    That trade was the worst thing for this team. Ainge should've just gambled with what he knew worked. But he's never respected Perk's abilities. And just maybe we would've lost Perk regardless in the off season. But at least we'd have lost him with Banner #18 more likely than not.

    • talesofJP

      its not fair to say that with Perk we win the title, that was never a given. Chances are without the Perk trade we get the 1 or 2 seed, and risk Peirce totally breaking down. Then we play the Heat in the playoffs and no one except Pierce can guard LeBron. Pre-Perk trade our biggest problem was lack of depth behind PP, now we have that, and Shaq will be back for the playoffs, shoring up the center spot with Kristic

  • I_Love_Green

    I think our game thursday against the Spurs will be a big indication of how this team stands right now. The Spurs, with the best record, should be a game that our guys will get up for, and give 100%. If we win that game we'll know the recent struggles have been related to boredom, and not getting up for crappy teams. If we lose, but effort is obviously there, then there still isn't much reason to worry. If we lose, and its a blowout, then there's definite reason to worry. I highly doubt the game will be a blowout though, and could go either way.

    • Morpheus

      I'm more hopeful than confident that the Big 3 + Rondo + Baby will bring their playoff games with them against the Spurs. I just don't know what to expect from the Cs right now.

      Timmy won't be playing either, so we should come away with the W. Hopefully Rondo gives us a glimpse of his "better days" 11 points, 15 assists, 3 steals, 5 rebounds. He seems to get up against Tony Parker.

      • Chris O

        He loves playing Tony Parker bcuz that boy dissed him a few years ago. Rondo doesn't forget and is huge with grudges

  • rondough-money

    I_Love_Green 71p · 12 minutes ago

    i completely agree. they'll be up for the san anton game, and the chicago game and the miami heat game.
    this is a group of vets. they seen everything and they are mentally strong enough to get through slumps. i won't be worried unless we are down 10 with 2mins left of a 7 on the road.

  • Mike

    Davis tonight -7 , 4-15 (whaaat?) from the field and an astounding 6 reb. He gets scored over and allows way to many ORB. I'm not saying that its all his fault but I'll say that he has something to do with it. Just because he knows the defense doen't mean he should be there all the time and play hero. If the trade was made for offensive purposes, why is Jeff playing like what, 15 minutes. He was 4-5 and he's been like that, Davis was like 4-13 and -13 the other. I don't think its coincidence.

    • jim

      I agree about the Baby. The guy takes way too many shots shoots when he should not and when he puts up more shots then Ray Allen we usually lose. I think he is a role player who gets way too much credit and not enough scrutiny!

      • talesofJP

        he needs to get it out of his head that he is a number one offensive weapon off the bench. Green should be the offensive weapon off the bench since he was scoring around 20 points a game for OKC

    • Morpheus

      Green should be getting 22 minutes a night, get him comfortable with our D schemes in time for the playoffs. He's going to be HUGE for us in the playoffs, but not if Doc continues to have brain farts by not playing him more.

      HE IS our best scorer off the bench, Doc should KNOW this, it isn't Baby.

  • gerald

    san antonio will play without Tim duncan

    • Renato Afonso

      And maybe Ginobili…

      • talesofJP

        Also, the Spurs just lost to those same Grizzlies

    • Morpheus

      We lost to the Bobcats who were without Jackson and Tyrus and barely managed to beat the 2nd worst team in the league.

  • Herb

    Seriously, how much longer are we going to blame this team’s failings on the Perk trade? He’s a defensive force and an offensive liability; I fail to see how his presence tonight would have made much difference, considering they held Minny to 82 points. The offense is stagnant, not the D. I love the guy and I wish him nothing but the best, and I absolutely hated to see him go. But jesus, we didn’t trade Bill Russell, and we got some good offense in return. Things will turn around.

  • Herb

    Seriously, how much longer are we going to blame this team’s failings on the Perk trade? He’s a defensive force and an offensive liability; I fail to see how his presence tonight would have made much difference, considering they held Minny to 82 points. The offense is stagnant, not the D. I love the guy and I wish him nothing but the best, and I absolutely hated to see him go. But jesus, we didn’t trade the second coming of Bill Russell, and we got some good offense in return. Things will turn around.

    • Devin_in_Maine

      Indeed. Darko is a big body, and would have highlighted Perk's offensive struggles in the paint. Nenad is taller and with Perk's gimpy knees has arguable about the same leaping ability and he was getting rocked in the paint by Minnesota's bigs. Perk would not have made a significant impact in this game. Period.

  • Herb

    Sorry for the double post, I just get so antsy.

    • Tom W

      I like how one of the double posts got more thumbs up than the other. haha.

  • CG12

    I agree completely with the analysis in this post. Sure it wasn't pretty, but the team didn't really look that bad when the Wolves were climbing back in the game. They were just missing shots and didn't go to the post enough. KG should have seen the ball a lot more.

    I continue to not buy into all the mumbo jumbo about the players sulking about the Perk trade and the chemistry being shot. The team needs more size and is working to incorporate new players. That's about it. I'm not worried about them getting up for the playoffs.

    • talesofJP

      I don't buy the sulking arguement either, maybe the starters need more rest? Tired legs could be a reason for missing wide open shots along with their reluctance to go to the hoop more. Maybe they are saving up for the playoffs, which would be fine with me.

  • C's18

    I agree with the article as well, I think that the defense has been there all along with this team even as it suffers through this "slump" or whatever we should call it. I really hope the offense picks up at some point though because it is disappointing watching the Celtics struggle to close out the dam Timberwolves with the amount of talent and experience we have on this roster. Jeff Green is definitely not getting enough play time at all and it's a shame because despite any defensive shortcomings he may have I think he can still to servicable job in that department, while still scoring the crap outta the ball. I love BBD, but seeing him be a ball hog and take so many crappy shots lately is really pissing me off. I am starting to scream at the tv for the ball to get into the hands of West and Green.

  • celtics2011.com

    Almost another L, Thanks to our defense.
    Banner 18 coming soon, this June

  • Chris O

    How bad would it b if the C's end up the 3 seed in the East, and the Lakers got the 1 in the West and had a better record than the Celts. I think I would cry. I don't want a possible game 7 in LA, although the revenge would be fitting

  • Tom W

    I was at the game last night, and after the first quarter my dad and I agreed that the Celtics looked like they did earlier this year when everything was going great. For the rest of the game, the C's missed good shots. There were a LOT of open threes, open 15 footers that just weren't falling.

    I like to think I agree that will be fine come playoff time. Hopefully this time it doesn't take Quentin Richardson to piss off KG and wake the Celtics back up.

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