The Celtics have made life hard on themselves the past two months, both from a play and management perspective and they put the exclamation point on things tonight with a loss against the lowly Washington Wizards as the Celtics Big Four rested their legs.
With the defeat, combined with a Heat win and a Sixers loss, the playoff seedings are now set, as the Celtics have drawn the surging Knicks as first round opponents in the 3 vs. 6 matchup. The Heat draw the floundering Sixers in the 2-7 showdown, and the Celtics have chosen a path where they have to get past (arguably) four of the best five players in the Eastern Conference over the next three rounds in order to get back to the NBA Finals.
We’ll have plenty of time to speculate all about that and the upcoming first round circus in the next 6 days, but for now a few important notes to take away from this horrific loss.
First and foremost is the injury to Delonte West. He went down in a heap during a freak collison with JaVale McGee in the third quarter, in which the center’s entire body came down on West’s right foot.
The tough guard let out a disturbing scream after the hit, and walked gingerly off the floor, and eventually to the locker room. He’s out for Wednesday with a sprained right ankle officially, but my money has him out at least part of the first round as there’s a bone chip in that ankle. We’ll obviously get more on this as it comes in, but it’s another big blow for this team’s playoff hopes if it is a more serious injury.
As far as the rest of the game goes, it was mostly YMCA fare. Jermaine O’Neal showed very positive signs, the biggest of which Doc left him out there for 37 minutes and he held up. 15 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks and a bit more confidence for a guy that will need to play a lot if the C’s plan on going anywhere this year.
Jeff Green hit the glass hard, (20 points, 15 rebounds) against a disinterested Washington team, but his offense was inefficent, if not uninspiring. A few glimpses of potential, but nothing to write home about. Then again, based on what we’ve seen, this was at least progress.
Von Wafer (after Delonte came out) was the unsung hero of this game. That is until overtime hit, where he had multiple goofs, including an embarrassing missed dunk and collision with JO which led to a turnover.
That should rightfully leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, but for a guy who hasn’t played in two months, this was a solid night overall, as he played strong defense and showed he was capable of creating on offense, something this team sorely needs. With West hurting, count on him being in the playoff rotation. Carlos Arroyo missed a lot of mid-range jumpers, but did plenty of other things right as well. We’ll dig more into that later, as he becomes very relevant too depending on West’s injury.
That’s really all that’s worth mentioning in this one. Glen Davis showed signs of breaking out of his slump, but made an ill-advised trap attempt on John Wall late, which gave Jordan Crawford an open look at a 3.
And Troy Murphy and Avery Bradley were awful in their own separate ways tonight.
In any case, bring on the Knicks. Rested legs will be needed, as both teams get a sneak peek at each other’s scrubs on Wednesday night.