Offensive Efficiency: 102.9 points/100 possessions (below average)
Defensive Efficiency: 110.6 points/100 possessions (very bad, same as Knick game)
Pace: 104 possessions (speedy)
Looking back on this game, it’s hard to remember how the Celtics were able to cut the lead to 3 with only two minutes left. They allowed 69 points in the first half. They turned the ball over 24 times. They were outrebounded, outshot, and overwhelmed by the defense. Yet they still forced Miami to rely on a rookie from Cleveland State to bail them out in the game’s final seconds. That’s good, right?
And it’s fine to look at it that way, too! But this game was supposed to be a blowout, and though it almost was, the Celtics stayed in it. Their old stars are still performing at a high level, and they’re getting some help from new faces. As Simmons definitely knows, the Celtics beat the spread in both tonight’s game and Sunday’s, meaning that they’re performing better than most bettors expected. They’re missing a huge, huge piece, but even without that piece they’ve been competitive against elite opposition. That said: that piece better come back real, very soon.
Holy ghost, Ray was feeling it tonight. After New York, when he only attempted three threes, there was concern that his role in the offense was being limited somehow. Peace, concern! Ray hit 6 of 8 from all kinds of crazy angles and rarely had time to sculpt his body into his perfect shooting form: he was almost always off balance, and he has infinitely more swag when he connects that way. Several clips in the Highlight Gallery.
One game after Brandon Bass made everyone forget about that other undersized power forward, Dooling fully replaced that guard with the neck tattoos. He shot excellently: 4-6 from three, including the shot that made it a one-possession game with two minutes left. Most of all, he successfully guarded LeBron James. LeBron got his points like he will, but Dooling limited him mostly to midrange jumpers, and he only made about half. On LeBron, that’s a good day, and it’s the reason Dooling was +12 in 24 minutes (best on the team by 11 points).
Doc experimented with a lot of weird lineups tonight to compensate for his lack of a decent SF. He went small with Rondo, Dooling, and Ray on the court at the same time. He tried a frontcourt of Bass and Garnett for extended minutes, only playing Jermaine and Wilcox for a total of 31. He even sent out, after measuring his cojones and finding them to be huge, an all-reserve lineup of Dooling, Bradley, Daniels, Bass, and Wilcox for multiple minutes. The reserves didn’t work that well, but going small actually helped the C’s keep up with the Heat’s overpowering athleticism for long stretches, and the move played a huge part in the second-half comeback. Kudos bars to Doc.
Three stats from tonight: Miami had a 57.5 Total Rebound Rate to Boston’s 42.5, they had 8 blocks to Boston’s 3, and 30 attempts at the rim at 70% conversion to 16 attempts from Boston at 56%. You know why? Because the Celtics do not have a good center. They desperately need one, against this team and many other teams. That’s the last time I bring that up (in this post).
3. Sasha Takes Ownership
The theme of today’s Highlight Gallery is boldness. Look at Sasha on this play. In New York he didn’t attempt a single shot, but here he looks like a guy who would attempt at least three shots. He sees a hole in the defense and decides to take it in himself from the arc, even throwing in a pass fake because he probably gets that everyone expects him to give it up.
2. Ray From Everywhere
1. Rondo For Three
You’re objectively wrong if this wasn’t your favorite Celtics highlight of the game. This kind of sneering contempt for a perimeter defender is not generally seen in players with Rajon Rondo’s shooting portfolio. Doesn’t matter: Rondo stares deep into Mario Chalmers’ eyes and flushes a three without even breaking eye contact (I’m guessing). Boldness.
0. Rondo’s Airball Layup
Enjoyed this clip because I feel like that’s how I would react if someone Wade’s size was coming at me. It’s nice when your heroes are brought down to your level for a second.
TOMMY’S COMPLAINT CORNER
“WHAT IS THIS? Two fast breaks: on the one side, you got Bosh getting the foul call just for losing the ball without anyone touching him. On the other side, you got Cole getting the foul call because he fell over while he was taking out Brandon Bass at the knees! What a disaster! Call the same game for both teams! I just hope Brandon’s okay.”