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Heat 99, Celtics 90: It Wasn’t All Bad

 

The most-hyped Eastern Semifinals Game One ever was actually underhyped, in a sense. Referring specifically to the fact that, you know, Osama bin Laden died during the game.

I don’t think official time of death reports are out yet, but I’m getting this from the gentleman who tweeted about the raid while it was happening. His tweets put it at around 4:00 or 4:30 Eastern time. So around when Rondo got his third foul and Miami went on that huge second-quarter run, Osama bin Laden was being killed in Abbottabad. Not really sure what you should do with that knowledge, other than imagine how much crazier ABC’s game promos would have been if they had known this was going to happen. Would they have sent the talking basketball or Nicole Scherzinger to break the news?

Anyway, enough about cathartic retribution: time to complain about a basketball game!

Because the rest of what was going on, other than Osama bin Laden being killed, was not good for the Celtics. The rest of it was bad. Good runs were neutralized by bad play, and good play was neutralized by terrible officiating and poor minutes allocation.

Brian already discussed the three flagrant calls and non-calls that didn’t go the Celtics’ way, and I’ll add to that the 18-32 free throw disparity in Miami’s favor, despite the fact that Boston took several more shots at the rim. But that’s only a little out of the ordinary for a road game. Not sure it entirely makes up the difference in the game.

What does make up that difference, for me, is how Doc overreacted to foul trouble. More after the jump.

Rondo didn’t look great in this game. He moved slowly enough for Mike Bibby and his two clubbed feet to stick with him, and he shot 30 percent from the dang floor even though he didn’t take any shots outside the key. But the Celtics offense without him on the floor was, to be kind, the worst ever in history.

When Rondo came out with 11:17 to go in the second, the Celtics were down by four. They didn’t score again until 7:46, during which the Heat went on a 9-0 run and the Celtics missed five shots, blew one dunk, and gave up two turnovers. They could do nothing. The ball moved slowly enough for Miami to send double coverage against virtually every shot, the result being that none of the looks were even passable. Meanwhile, on the other end, the defensive rotations were at their sloppiest and James Jones hit two of his five threes as a result.

The Celtics never really recovered from that run, and it all happened because Doc had the roster management equivalent of an epileptic seizure when Rondo got his third foul. Understand that sitting players for extended minutes when they get into foul trouble is not smart. In the pantheon of Dumb Things Coaches Inexplicably Still Do, it’s right there next to “bunting with one out” and “punting on 4th-and-1 on the other team’s 45-yard-line.” It’s ostensibly supposed to maximize a player’s minutes, but in reality it works against that goal. Think of it as childproofing your home by throwing your baby down the stairs.

Doc benched Rondo for the entire second quarter, and so Rondo ended up only playing 29 minutes. Is that not what Doc was supposed to be trying to avoid? Imagine if Doc had let Rondo stay in the game on a normal schedule: Rondo would have continued to guard Mike Bibby, the least threatening foul-drawer on the Heat, and MAYBE would have drawn his sixth foul with threes minutes or so left in the game. That’s being pessimistic; as it was he only committed one more foul in the next 21 minutes. But even under that scenario, Rondo plays at least seven or eight more minutes.

Why are those extra minutes important? Because the Celtics outscored the Heat by SEVEN POINTS when he was in the game. Thinking about that in a different but equally interesting way, the Heat outscored the Celtics by 16 in the 19 minutes Rondo was on the bench. Cut those  sitting minutes in half and the Celtics are in this one. If he fouls out, then Doc did his job. He maximized Rondo’s minutes.

Now, to clarify, that isn’t all Rondo showing up in those plus/minus stats. Also making his negative presence known was Glen Davis, who was usually in when Rondo was out and was defensively woebegone the entire time, probably just as confused as we were why Jermaine O’Neal only got eight minutes in the first half. He ended up with a minus-21. Delonte West and Jeff Green were also significant parts of the problem. Delonte hit a couple of threes, but he more than made up for it with his defense on Wade and oblivious pullup jumpers. As for Jeff Green, it seems the only thing to do now is to remind ourselves that Jeff Green is trying very hard and to funnel our aggression elsewhere. I mean, what’s he supposed to do, not accept the trade? It’s somebody else’s fault that Jeff Green is on the Celtics and contributing nothing.

But it’s undeniable that everyone is better with Rondo on the floor. That’s the hope from this game: when Rondo was out there, the Celtics won. And if Doc elects to play Rondo more than 29 minutes next time, they could extend that win to an actual game.

  • Mike

    Wow that stat is crazy. We actually took more shots at the rim yet they have like twice the number of free throws (flagrants and tecs included or not thats still crazy). Kinda reminds me of game 1 of mavs against the blazers where the blazers had something similar.

  • Renato Afonso

    This hurts me a lot to say, but the referees were biased against Boston… That being said, it is not the reason why your team lost.

    Your team lost because of the number of TO's made. Those TO's resulted in immediate fast breaks which ended up with either 2 points and/or fouls for FT's (and that helps explain the FT disparity a bit). The main reason for that is the one you stated above: Doc Rivers benching Rondo for foul trouble.

    Regarding this series and Jeff Green's role, while he may not fit as he was expected to, I don't think that you can blame Danny Ainge for doing the trade. Here's why:

    a) You brought in a backup SF/PF that you needed since 'Quis went down and Davis is just a bonehead. Jeff Green is a backup and your expectations shouldn't be as high as they are. He is working hard and may fit better next year.

    b) Nenad Krstic started very well and is the only C you have with some offensive skill either on the low block or with his mid-range shot. Play him more in favorable matchups, where you need offense from the C position, as it is the case against the Heat. Anthony is 6'9''!!!

    c) Perkins is not very good to begin with. He is useful to play some defense against more physical centers (offensively) but on offense he is useless. And he's not a very good rebounder either. It always puzzled me why Celtics' fans were so high on him. The '08 title was because of the big three+rondo+posey+pj brown. I would even say that besides the matchups with Orlando, he was rather expendable on your team. Every time you say something about the Lakers Finals in '10 and mention that with Perk you would've won, you negate the outstanding game Rasheed Wallace made. Was it better to have one more body? Sure it would've been, but more Perk meant less Sheed and Sheed was carrying the Celtics during that game. Perkins made hard fouls, travelled, set moving picks and got T'ed up all the time. Look at how he is faring in OKC nowadays and tell me if you miss him that much. Z-Bo and Marc Gasol are dominating the paint.The Heat have no threat at Center.

    d) JO was actually doing ok and he is (still now) a way better player than Perk (ever will be). If you had Shaq available, this series would be over. He is not (yet) which means you're in for a dogfight.

    That being said, I really want the Celtics to get through because I really want my Lakers to meet them in the Finals again (should we get there). Doc needs to stop doing those dumb things that NBA coaches do (subbing too early for foul trouble, making pattern substitutions regardless of how the game is going, etc.). If you end up losing 4 games to the Heat, blame Doc, not Ainge nor an individual player because they're working hard (except for Shaq, who never worked hard in his life).

    • Ephraim

      Good post. Nice to see someone who actually knows basketball instead of people just hating on others teams on all these message boards.

    • Zee

      I've been watching Perk play with OKC a lot lately, and to be honest I've been less impressed with him. :-/

      • Jamie

        He sure didn't help them slow down Gasol or Randolph yesterday. he got hyped up cause he fit so well in Boston's system as the 5th cog.

    • CelticsFan in LA

      Much respect. I appreciate someone than can articulate their thoughts, admit their biases, and objectively analyize information.

      That was a great post and very insightful.
      You should look into being a writer/analyist! I'd read.

    • http://gymratrants.blogspot.com Tom W

      Dammit. It sucks respecting Laker fans. Haha. Thanks for the input, good post.

    • Renato Afonso

      Thanks for your support. Unfortunately, english is not my mother tongue and I don't have enough time to watch more games. I'll keep posting the "rival's" opinion from time to time.

      There are great discussions here at CelticsHub and intend to keep following them. Original FB&G reader and poster here!

    • Diego

      For years I had the same thoughts on Perkings (I was even day dreaming of Danny Ainge offering Perk at the beggining of the season in an attempt to get Cousins in the Draft) but seen how the team performed after the trade made me realize that Chemistry should always be a key component while evaluating talent and/or team performances. It wasn't only Perk we traded, we got rid of half the team and brough in individuals with more talent, but at the end none of those individuals have really given us anything. Have they played hard enough? Do they care?
      Dammed, Perk cried, how upset was Semih, Robinson was a mess, but did anyone outworked him? Jeff Green; I bet if he had a choice he'd rather be back in OKC.
      When we played Memphis in the last 2 weeks of the regular season, Powe, who is not playing at all for the Grizzlies went off against us, I wish Murphy have given us a single game like that…..it could be Doc's fault for not given them enough chances, but all and all a player that plays harder, even if he has less talent contributes better off the bench and Chemistry is -sometimes- more important than stats !

  • http://www.chatcelts.com Nick L.

    I believe Rondo came out with 11:17 remaining in the second.

  • http://HeatIndex GBmoney

    I been Questioning Doc Rivers. Ever since he put Glen Davis,Jeff Green,paul pierce, Delonte west and rondo on the court together, againest the knicks. Then came out with it againest us. That weak ass line up aint gon beat nobody let alone us. The 2011 Champs.HEATLES

  • http://HeatIndex GBmontee

    I been Questioning Doc Rivers. Ever since he put Glen Davis,Jeff Green,paul pierce, Delonte west and rondo on the court together, againest the knicks. Then came out with it againest us. That weak ass line up aint gon beat nobody let alone us. The 2011 Champs.HEATLES

  • CG12

    Given that the Cs managed to hang around in a game where so many things went wrong, I feel good about their chances in this series. Wade was super hot, James was average (for him), and Jones went off. That's it. Wade will throw in junk like that, on occasion, but he will also go 1-for-8 from 3 on occasion (bank on it). Wade and James are good shot-makers, but not good shooters. If Wade cools off, Jones has an ordinary game, and the Cs don't combust, that sounds a lot like a Cs win.

    The reffing was poor, but the Cs put themselves in position for the refs to make those calls. As others have said, the reffing didn't decide the game, but it definitely squashed the Cs chance for a comeback.

    A few things I'd like to see next game: Shaq (I doubt it). Delonte West playing more assertively, but more under control. I generally like him at the point, but he has been lousy initiating the offense of late. I'm also terrified that he will just melt down during a game and try to kill an opposing player. I like a player with an edge, but he is way over the edge (and I love Delonte). KG needs to step up. When he gets the ball in the high post, he needs to at least consider the possibility that he can do something other than hand off. I'd like to see Krstic get some post touches with the 2nd team. Miami is so small and Krstic has shown a nice post-up game. Rondo needs to push the ball more, but his teammates need to run with him when he does. Rondo didn't push it hard that much, but when he did, his teammates weren't filling their lanes all that hard.

  • FUHayes

    Hayes Davenport is some rich white boy from snobby Dover Massachusetts who went to Harvard. He has a few writing credits for Comedy Central, though it appears his duties were mostly centered around gettting coffee or checking for typos. His claim to fame is being associated with toilet humor.

    • Dropstep

      If you have nothing to say related to this post, move on. Seriously, just stupid and unnecessary.

    • BBallFan

      What does this have to do with anything? I like this blog and Hayes is funny.

  • celticfan

    The Celtics just let Miami get under their skin they played right into their hands.i just turned it off the celtics sucked out there.i knew after such a long break this would happen. eveytime the celtics have a lot of time of between games they can't get their shit together and loose everytime. i just hope they come out tuesday wanting to win and kick some miami ass.don't let them get to you.guys. we had danny crawford and everyone knows he hates the celtics. the Heat was given this game from the start.Stern doesn't want the Celtics there andhe gets what he wants.the Refs need to play fair and call the right calls on both ends not just on one team.

  • Dropstep

    Celtics need to take care of the ball. Celtics need to take care of the ball. It's been said over and over and it is very important against a team with LeBron and Wade. I've seen enough of their fastbreaks to last me the rest of my life; I don't need too many in this series. In relation to the # of shots at the rim, do you also include those shots for which FT's were given?

  • diehardceltic

    OMG Hayes, where do you get some of these pictures? Some much needed comic relief after yesterday's game for sure!

  • Diego

    WHY HOT GIVE SASHA OR WAFER A CHANCE ? GREEN HASN'T GIVE US ANYTHING AND YET WE KEEP ON KEEPING HIM AS THE OOOONLY OPTION OFF THE BENCH. BOTH WAFER AND SASHA PLAYED VERY GOOD THE LAST WEEK. WHY NOT?

    • ElRoz

      Von Wafer DOES play with enrgy and enthusiasm…and he played well against Miami the last time in Boston. I don't know why Doc won't use him for some stretches in the game.

  • dal

    There was an article earlier this year also on Celticshub that showed advanced metrics of sitting a player down following the Q+1 formula (number of quarters +1). When RR got 2 in the first and 3 in the second, I think it was the right thing to do.

    If Rondo picks up #4 in the 2nd, how much do you think he could play in the next half? Would we still see the aggressive Rondo we want for this series?

    While I agree with most of what's written here, it isn't because of poor coaching from Doc. He knows his players, his team, better than any of us posting here.

    We lost because we:
    1. Failed to execute
    2. Failed to keep our composure

    The C's KNOW what they have to do. Theoretically, they know how to beat a flawed opponent in the Heat. The question now, as it forever will be with this team is, WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

  • longlivethe80's

    This is probably the best article I have read in regards to last night's debacle. The truth is that once we take the emotion out of the game, we will see that things aren't all that bad. First, it took a super-human effort by Wade to put us away. I doubt he will play like that every game. Second, James Jones went off behind the three point line. I am willing to bet he will go cold for the rest of the series ala Ray Allen in last year's finals (sorry to bring that up). Third, the Celtics played some horrible basketball. Pierce and Rondo turned the ball over numerous times (resulting in fast break points) and the article already mentioned Rondo's limited minutes and the resulting implications. Despite all of this, the Celtics only lost by 9 points and were able to make a run without Paul Pierce. I think the Celtics will come out tomorrow with a much better game plan and a heightened sense of urgency. If they move the ball, make that extra pass, and commit to their defensive assignments, I assure you there is no way Miami can beat them in a 7-game series.

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