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Speed, Killed: C’s 99, Sixers 82

 

ESPN Box ScorePhiladunkiaLiberty Ballers

Elton Brand stays behind to find a lost kneecap.

Always good when the Celtics are confronted with an issue in the first half, but make changes to correct that issue in the second and win handily. Creates a tight little game story, and that makes my job easy! Just kidding, this job is already pretty easy and it’s not actually a job.

The Celtics seemed like they were fixing to be hustled off the floor in the first quarter. Guards like Jodie Meeks, a man who shares his first name with my mother, blistered Ray Allen and particularly Rajon Rondo on the first few plays of the game. Ray was technically assigned to Meeks, but Meeks craftily drifted off Ray defensively so he’d have an edge on him for the race downcourt. Rondo was the only thing standing in Meeks’s way, but because standing was basically all Rondo did, Meeks blew past him and ended up with the ball right under the basket.

Here’s one time the aforementioned happened.

The only good that came of that play was that it forced Tommy Heinsohn to scream that there would be “serious trouble in River City” if it happened again. Then, five minutes later, it did.

The Meeks shall inherit the earth, as the world’s funniest dude would say. Between this guy and Jrue Holiday hitting jumpers right in Rondo’s disinterested face, the Celtics point guard had a pretty lazy defensive quarter. Basically, he kept the game close at both ends: he engineered all of the Celtics offense in the early going, but most of the Sixers offense too.

But the Celtics, not consistent adjustment-makers over the last few weeks, tightened up this time. They got back on defense and forced the Sixers to go halfcourt rather than run right through them, as you can see in this game footage.

This led to the 14-1 run that spanned halftime and put the Sixers in a sufficiently deep hole to take this one. Every single defensive possession for the C’s in that stretch saw them forcing the Sixers to run a halfcourt offense. An interesting thing is that Rondo, in this stretch, was not good defensively. He missed a bunch of rotations and got iced out on picks. Postgame recaps elsewhere have pointed out that Jrue Holiday didn’t score any points in the second half and missed his last eight shots, but a few of those shots looked like this.

Sometimes no defense is the best defense, right? No, that is not right. That video shows some great suffocating help D on Spencer Hawes, but Rondo’s involvement was completely superfluous and he was lucky Holiday missed. It’s another chapter in the very long story of Rondo leaving his man to bite on a steal.

But to reiterate, Rondo’s offense was superb throughout this game. He set virtually every play in motion, and he did it in the halfcourt, which the Celtics execute much better than the Sixers or pretty much anyone. People like to say that Rondo is good because he can “push the tempo,” but this is not true, or at least not completely true. Rondo is good because he can put a pass anywhere and hit his guys at the exact instant they’ve created some space. That’s why he’s good. Jrue Holiday can push the tempo. “Push the Tempo” is a Fatboy Slim song.

The Celtics, when they’re at their best, operate in the half court. They pick apart defenses with ball movement and stymie that same ball movement on the other end. They’re not fast. They’re old. Rondo is capable of running a fast break, and that can be a weapon when implemented judiciously. But when the Celtics need points, there’s nothing wrong with waiting for everyone to drag their old bones up the court and running plays. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? The hare jumped out in front with a few fastbreak points, but then he fell asleep under the scorer’s table, but the tortoise couldn’t score because his stumpy appendages were totally incapable of controlling a basketball so he lost anyway. That’s not relevant.

NOTES

  • I’m increasingly concerned about Jermaine O’Neal’s springiness. All the boards I can recall him getting fell into his hands while he was groundbound. Watch the opening tip, where Jermaine visibly considers jumping but then gives up.

  • As mentioned earlier, kudos to Krstic and Murphy for their quick recoveries. I think most of us were prepared to lose Krstic until next January, based on the example set for us by Shaq and his 30-game charlie horse.
  • Paul Pierce has been the team’s best rebounder for at least a week. He and Green led the team with seven tonight, and Pierce has been the only Celtic who actively parks himself where the shot’s most likely to come off the rim. This would be a bigger deal if it didn’t sometimes seem like he was fighting his own teammates to get position.
  • KG is shooting as well as any of us have ever seen him lately. Just the daintiest little “splish” noises as the ball goes through, and his form looks fantastic. Did KG drink a cauldron of Ray’s blood? Is that why Ray went on the schneid for a while? It’s not a likely explanation, but it’s also not the least likely.
  • http://twitter.com/michaeljavid @michaeljavid

    Very funny. This was a great recap.

  • Chris O

    Haha yes Hayes GREAT POST!

    "Creates a tight little game story, and that makes my job easy! Just kidding, this job is already pretty easy and it’s not actually a job."

    "Did KG drink a cauldron of Ray’s blood? Is that why Ray went on the schneid for a while? It’s not a likely explanation, but it’s also not the least likely."

    Hilarious

    • Chris O

      Haha I love getting negative thumbs for praising Hayes…ridiculous.

  • Phil

    Things are so much better when the good Celtics show up :)

    Hopefully they stick around for the next game, they haven't had much trouble getting up for the last few playoff atmosphere games.

  • Far East Man

    Try to give J.O. a break. He played pretty well… As far as your concern about his "springiness", I'm not worried about it at all. Given the fact that he has missed so much time on the floor, I think it's quite normal for his timing in such matters to be off. Hopefully, he's on his way to game shape cum playoffs. Mabuhay!

  • johnschaffer

    i think they all played a good game last night after first quairter , they were celtics of old , ,so glad kistic is back ,,looking good

  • DanielP

    Rondo is not that fast compard to a lot of PGs in the league.

    • MikeD

      false

    • MikeD
    • Batman

      Rondo is arguably the fastest

    • skeeds

      ball in hand, open court? only Westbrook and maybe Paul are as fast.
      Sprinter maybe not, but then again I'd expect the fastest sprinter would be a guy like J.R. Smith or Nate or Monta Ellis or some other guy with riddiculous athletisicm, (and monster calves)…

    • kricky

      RR is definitely among the top 5, but I think Rose may be the fastest. Westbrook 2nd, and RR third. Both of those guys are better finishers than RR because of their freakish hops. But RR may be a better passer and defender (when he isn't cheating to go for steals).

      • Batman

        but they are not better finishers! Rondo finishes with a 64%, Westbrook with 60% and Rose with 58%

      • MikeD

        hops have nothing to do with finishing

        • kricky

          Another case where the stats are misleading fellas.

          Rose and Westbrook finish at a lower percentage because they take tougher contested shots. Rondo usually passes up these shots. How many times do these guys drive to the rim in the half court and score. How many time does RR do it?

          Rose and Westbrook also don't blow as many easy layups as Rondo does. They can actually jump over guys with their athleticism while Rondo has to try to use his craftiness.

  • MikeD

    So you are knocking Rondo for not taking tougher, lower percentage shots? And you are wrong by the way. The degree of difficulty on some of Rondo's layups is insane. He finds angles around defenders that you wouldn't have thought were possible. I just don't get your argument at all. Rondo is freakishly athletic. Rose and Westbrook are both very good players, but players who probably shoot way too much for their position.

    • kricky

      I'm not knocking RR. I love his game. And he is right not to take those shots because he can't make them.

      We were talking about the guys' ability to finish. Rose and Westbrooke take those shots because they can elevate and finish.

      You may be right about Westbrooke taking too many of these shots. But not about Rose. The guy is a legit MVP and the best PG in the game. I've watched plenty of close Bulls games to end the season, praying they will lose, and he's just been a killer at the end of games driving to the basket. Gotta give credit where it's due.

      Be that as it may, form an aesthetic POV, I find Rondo's game more intriguing. Especially the crazy passes and hustle plays. No one brings the intangibles like he does. But if we are going to be honest Rose (and probably Westbrooke) are better players.

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