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It’s Never Too Early To Bottom Out: Hornets 97 C’s 78

 

ESPN Box ScoreHornets247AtTheHive

Offensive Efficiency: 89.7 points/100 possessions (league-worst by a comfortable margin)
Defensive Efficiency: 111.5 points/100 possessions (also league-worst territory)
Pace: 87 (slow)

INDEFENSIBLE

The Boston offense cratered last night after two strong outings and the defense came up impotent for the third consecutive game.

With Paul Pierce out and on the back of the strong performances against Miami and New York, it’s hard to worry too much about the scoring right now. But the defense remains a mystery, because Boston’s proving to be one of the league’s worst defensive teams so far this season.

Process that for a moment.

So far, the Celtics are not just bad. They’re D’Antoni bad. Golden State bad. Raptor bad.

This is a team that draws its entire identity from a defense that chokes off the strongest offenses in the league with hyper-aggressive, arrogant delight. This is a defense led by Kevin Garnett, one of the greatest defensive players of all time and, as recently as last year, one of the 2-3 most impactful defenders in the entire NBA.

The defensive problems are impressively varied for three games into the season but here’s one key damning statistic: New Orleans put up 46 points in the paint last night. The night before, Miami put up 52 points. The Knicks scored a comparatively paltry 30 on opening day but in aggregate, we can conclude that Boston isn’t denying penetration or position effectively enough, especially with no force imposing enough to protect the rim when guys do get into the kill zone.

Which is our cue to talk big men. That, plus our new nightly video highlights, after the jump.

***

JERMAINE O’NEAL

It’s barely an overstatement to note that J.O’s offense has regressed to the point of being a major liability. His PER fell off the table the last two years (from 17.92 in 2009-10 to 9.22 in 2010-11) and he’s hovering around 0 this season, while shooting 33% from the field (1-6 last night). You have to give him credit for coming into camp in better shape but his entire game is increasingly a worry, especially given his penchant for injuries and his declining mobility. Is this J.O. at full strength? If so, what happens when he’s not?

KEVIN GARNETT

KG made a point of criticizing the rushed training camp, so it’s possible he’s still feeling his way into the season. But when have we ever had to think that of Garnett before? I’m not that worried about his defense and defensive rebounding, which will likely experience only moderate declines over the course of the season (it’s worth noting that Doc Rivers pinned much of last night’s defensive failure on the guards and you could see KG and the other bigs scrambling to cover for their breakdowns).

I am very worried about his offense. KG’s Boston years have rarely featured him making power moves towards the basket, but his game feels increasingly like it’s softening (more jumpers, avoiding contact in the paint) and becoming less consistent (he simply can’t do it night-after-night anymore). It’s all organic to his career-arc, I suppose, but that doesn’t make it any less depressing.

GREG STIEMSMA

What a difference mobility makes! Stiemsma played 20 active minutes, ripped off 4 rebounds and 6 blocked shots and looked an excellent candidate for a backup center position on this team. Unfortunately, save for the odd day when J.O. is firing on all cylinders, there is no first-string center. Anyway, I am at least 25% more excited for the Stiemsma era than I was for our brief time with Semih Erden. Admittedly, that last sentence doesn’t mean anything.

***

STAT’S AMAZING!

Keyon Dooling has played 58 minutes this season and recorded 3 assists.

There is a lesson in that stat.

***

HIGHLIGHT GALLERY

3. The Celtics waste 22 seconds swinging the ball around the perimeter here, including an aborted attempt to post up Stiemsma before the Hornets swarm Rondo on the perimeter off a pick-and-pop. Instead of throwing the ball back to Brandon Bass for a jumper, Rondo sticks a three-ball to beat the shot clock. Not how Doc drew it up, but tasty nonetheless.

2. New Orleans had great defensive energy last night. Here, Boston beats it. KG fires a pass to Pavlovic at the end of a nice, crisp sequence of punch-counterpunch ball movement and Sasha knocks down a three. I’d probably quibble with the decision to make the pass instead of taking it strong to the rim but, well, there’s another highlight coming that suggests Garnett made the right play.

1. A thing of beauty here and a lesson in how an aggressive Rondo and good spacing can open things up for the rest of the team. KG sets a pick but when Chris Kaman comes up to contest Rondo’s shot (or deter his drive), KG slips free and has a wide-open dunk off a Rondo feed. You’ll also note Belinelli staying home on Pavlovic at the arc rather than collapsing. That’s one of the reasons Danny Ainge notes that shooting makes up for a lot of sins. Or the illusion of shooting.

0. A lesson in the necessity of going up strong.

***

And now it’s time for:

TOMMY’S COMPLAINT CORNER

Here’s today’s fake Tommy Heinsohn quote.

You know how sometimes Tommy will redirect his wrath away from the officials and towards the Celtics because they’re just playing so poorly, but then before any venom slips out of his mouth he remembers that he works for the Celtics and bleeds green and cannot bear to express his real contempt for lazy efforts and bad decisions on the court? Well, even though I was watching the New Orleans game feed on League Pass, I suspect last night might have been a night when Tommy was feeling that way. In which case, I can sort of imagine him just scowling and saying, “hmmph.” And Mike Gorman nodding sagely beside him.

  • http://offshore-professional.com/en/offshore-holding-company/offshore-holding-company.html Alexader

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  • http://Lovemyceltics.blogspot.com mycelts

    STIRRING UP A HORNETS' NEST

    JO involved early, then RAY ALLEN FOR THREE,
    Can JO handle the pressure? We'll soon see.
    Stiemsma with a block, then score, then a block, 
    These are words that warm the heart of Doc.

    Okafor averaging double double all career,
    Thought it should be noted so I mention it here.
    Hornets created a "buzz," with an 11-2 run,
    Cs down 6 at the end of Q1.

    Q2  huge Hornets run, Cs feeling queasy, 
    Homecoming for Bass, he's from the Big Easy.
    RAY ALLEN FOR THREE, then Rondo a driving two,
    Offensive foul on Ray?? What are the refs trying to do?

    11 free throws for the Hornets, for the Cs there are none,
    Four minutes left in the half, Rondo finally gets one.
    Stiemsma comes to life, with blocks so fine, 
    At the end of Q2, Cs are down 9.

    The young official in the house is ruining the Cs night,
    The way he is calling fouls just isn't right.
    RAY ALLEN FOR THREE, Belinelli from farther away,
    Cs put their heads down and started to play.

    Cs kept getting the lead down to nine or eight,
    Seems it was–for the third time–too little too late!
    Doc's furious with the officiating, easy to see, 
    Cs still down 9 at the end of Q3.

    Bass strong to the hoop to start Q4,
    For the Cs, the appearance of Johnson and Moore.
    The Hornets swarmed, they weren't fooling, 
    Only bright moment, clock running down, three by Dooling!

    Of the three games so far, this is the worst we've seen,
    Three games in four nights too tough on The Green?
    The Cs will pull it together, stick around for the ride, 
    0 and 3?  Never underestimate Celtic pride.

    Coach Monty Williams is one of Doc's closest friends,
    None of that matters til the basketball game ends.

    lovemyceltics.blogspot.com

    • david

      the last stanza should have said this:

      Of the three games we've had, this was the worst
      the next game we'll see JO leave in a hearse.

      (btw love the poems)

  • James

    A great example that this team needs Dwight Howard more than anything. Ainge must realize that we don't need CP3 when Rondo can play like he did with Knicks but we can definitely use Howard to improve the game in the paint… Why on earth JO played instead of Stiemsma in this game is beyond me…finally what kind of meds did the refs took during this game? Just one bad call after another in this one!

  • Joe Namath

    My over/under at 31 wins is looking optimistic

  • X-RIP-X

    Here's the game as I saw it:

    Celtics looked bad, really bad! Doc is a good coach, but he has a HUGE flaw: he can't (or better won't) develop anyone who in new in the league! Stiemsma looked great and it would probably be a good idea to play him against Miami. I bet he wouldn't be worse than JO. KG was off today, which was obvious from the start. Why not play Johnson earlier, and give him a little boost of confidene, rather than the last 3 minutes of the game. He's not gonna develop playing scrub minutes… Just look at what Cole did to us a nihgt before, when given a chance! Same goes for Moore, and even Bradley (Rondo wasn't stopping Jack today). I understand this is a veteran team, but if things obviousley aren't working, do something!

    Officials looked … Fuck, I'm not even pissed becouse they screwed one team, but the officiating as whole is shit! How come they spent 5 minutes checking the tape in the middle of the 1st half on some BS foul/24 sec call, but the most obvious travel/double dribble is missed… And I taught the refs in Slovenia were bad…

    If I had spent my money on League pass, I would be pissed. It's one thing to have home announcers, but it's another to have some idiots, who repeat the same thing over and over again, thinking they are funny and not providing a single useful piece of info the entire game!
    Oh, and WTF was that interview DURING the game?! A grammy award winner… Who gives a fuck! There is a GAME going on in the background and they kept going and going…

    Enough… Onto better tomorrow, I hope :)

    • Morpheus

      Totally agree with your assessment on Doc not trusting our young players. I look around the league and guess what? Coaches are trusting their rookies/young players, playing them regularly. Doc has got to start playing/developing these young players sooner or later, instead he's running KG and Ray into the ground.

  • CG12

    One of my biggest complaints about Rondo has always been that he goes for the risky defensive play way too much, instead of just staying with his man. It puts a ton of pressure on our big men. We definitely saw that last night.

    I have generally been very down on Pavlovic, but he has actually looked okay the last couple of games. He can play some D and will hit the occasional 3. As much as I love Marquis, that guy's jumper is flat out broke. If Quisy could make the corner 3 with any consistency, it would hugely increase his value. But he can't…

    KG really does look old. Sad. PP can't get back soon enough.

  • IBleedGreen

    I want my money back from NBA League Pass!!! Oh well, I might as well just watch Miami (root for them to lose) for the rest of the season. I want to kill people when I am watching Celtics games.

  • -JP

    They were horrible last night, but it was a SEGABABA and those usually don't work out well for this team. Play Steimsma more, pray for Pietrus and Peirce to get back quick. I am not ready to push the panic button yet, since its early and the first two losses were oddly encouraging, but this was just an effortless loss by the C's. We have transformed into a jumpshooting team that doesn't play defense, bad path to head down…

  • srb

    The Steamer should be the starting Center. As Tommy said, "Right off the bench and into your hearts"

    Or at least that's the way I remember what he said.

    Jermaine is too awful to bear.

  • tbunny

    It is way too early to be saying the sky is falling. They've played the equivalent of three quarters of football game this season. Flat play on a back to back is hardly surprising.

  • red

    Way to early to panic?

    First I agree it is way to early to say this season is gone.Secondly we have a lot of good young players on the Bench example Stiesma. And finally we have been without our best offensive player making it easier to guard Ray since our other 2 stars KG,and Rondo are afraid to shoot .

    Just a note to all C`s fans Doc wouldn`t have played Stiesma last night if Wilcox had been healthy.If this does not change and he refuses to develop our young players we will go not advance in the playoffs .

  • demetricw

    Pingpong balls are a very good thing, High draft pick = Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis, Perry Jones, or a trade for a young veteran like Kevin Love, Eric Gordon or Russell Westbrook. (That draft class was loaded)
    This season is hopefully lost w/ the idea of resting players to keep em fresh for the playoffs, gotta win some games first. All fans should want the young promising core we had stolen from us in 2007, sure we got a championship, a second shot at one and a relevant team but, Kevin Durant (the best player in the game) would have given us all of that for a lot longer

  • HondoHoudini

    Rondo+Davis= Lob City 2.0

  • Mark

    Everyone getting down on Doc for not playing young guys misses something important. Danny Ainge has not drafted all that well in the Big 3 era.

    2007: Traded 1st Rd pick; Pruitt (waived-out of the league); Big Baby (traded for Bass)
    2008: Giddens (passed over DeAndre Jordan); Walker (traded for Nate); Erden (traded for pick)
    2009: No 1st Rd pick; Hudson (waived-out of the league)
    2010: Bradley; Harangody (traded with Erden)
    2011: JJJ; Moore

    This isn't to say that Ainge is horrible talent evaluator but the last 5 years the only young player that had any lasting impact was Big Baby. Hindsight is 20/20 but no team can afford to, essentially, whiff 4+ straight years. I'll give Ainge a bit of a pass in '07 and '11 is incomplete at this point. What I can't understand about '08 is the fact that Ainge wanted Jordan and passed right over him. I think that might be the Marc Gasol year but he got passed over multiple times by every GM. Giving up Erden so quickly didn't make sense then and still doesn't considering he had some abilities and would help right now.

    • Mark

      I should have noted that he gets a complete pass in '09.

      • Batman

        Is him failing to draft steals with late picks his fault? Bradley wasn't a great pick, but its not like Jordan was considered a great prospect
        he was just another big athletic idiot

        • Batman

          and Giddens and Walker were good picks for his draft position
          both were high potential players with injury histories-aka Jrue Holiday, they just never panned out

          • Mark

            Walker is defensible on some level. Giddens is not.

        • Mark

          The only reason I pointed out Jordan was the fact that Ainge was drooling all over himself to get him. Jordan fell right into his lap and skips right over him.

  • ozcelts

    The 2 slam dunk arguments for giving the young guys minutes now:

    For 2011/12 season- the vets will be rested for the playoffs- no way we have home court after the first round anyway (even that aint a given)

    For 2012/13- and future- we need to evaluate the guys on our roster now to see whether they're keepers so when DA goes shopping this offseason he know what pieces he needs

    • Morpheus

      Yes, at the very least we need to know what these young players are capable of right? We or anyone else don't have a damn clue what they're capable of if they only play garbage minutes.

  • ripsonics

    second game of a back to back. My problem with this game is simple – Kevin Garnett.

    He has not showed up for one game this year, playing mediocre at best. He is not asserting himself on the offensive end and getting outplayed by everyone – even stiemsma. Pathetic. He is going to need to step up if this team is going to win games. With Paul Pierce out, Ray Allen, Rondo, and the bench have all stepped up their games. I am having a hard time understanding why Kevin doesn't want to shoot the damn ball.

    The Defense being bad does not surprise me at all. The only players on the team that know the defense are Ray, Rondo, KG maybe JO and marquis. The others are brand new, and we had no training camp. It is too early to be worried about the defense. Lets reevaluate in about 10-15 games, see where we are, and then start making predictions.

    The bottom line is – we were never and will never be good on back to back games. We were so close to beating both the knicks and the heat without our captain and best offensive weapon.

    THIS TEAM WILL BE FINE. Everyone needs to relax… If PP comes back and we still get blown out, then we can seriously worry, trade away the whole team, and pray for the best.

    GO C's

  • Batman

    whats with the new site layout? i like it

  • janos

    Haynes, is sites broken? Look differnt? Is now HD site?

  • http://twitter.com/bryanjroy @bryanjroy

    Hey guys– tweaking the layout a bit this afternoon. Will have it finished up tonight. Looking forward to feedback

    -Bryan

  • Morpheus

    It looks, no, it operates funny.It looks better. I just don't like how the comments and posts page has been shifted to the right while that other thing is on the left spontaneously if you know what i mean. Or is it just me. Can't i have a whole page for the comments and article section please?

    I like the new look though.

    • someguyinsac

      I agree that "thing" on the left could use a little squeezing. Then maybe we could have the whole page back instead of having to shift to the right to read the comments.

      • http://twitter.com/CelticsHub @CelticsHub

        Working on this tonight….

        • Morpheus

          That's much better. Peace

  • Morpheus

    A new look for a new era of Cs basketball perhaps? Is this a sign for the end of an era?

    • I_Love_Green

      Its really ending ):

  • someguyinsac

    That "thing" on the left could use a little squeezing please, maybe to about the width size of the C-Hub banner?

  • I_Love_Green

    The change the Celtics need has started. I like the layout guys.

  • Lam

    KG looks like he does not want it. Or he is feeling the affects of playing hoops in NBA since high school. Whatever is going on : the door is closed, the rebuilding will need to begin.

  • JCP

    I think we should wait until PP is back before we make any quick assumptions on the current team.

    I really like the new look, too. Much cleaner and more contemporary.

  • James Patrick

    We can't keep blaming the refs on these loses. It's getting redundant. Things should turn around when Pierce is back but if it doesn't then press the panic button but until then, let's just all take a deep breath.

  • red

    KG might not have his legs yet. During the lockout he played a big part in representing the union along with Fisher and Pierce, and didn`t have as much time as he is used to for fitness.I still think Doc doesn`t develop young players and it hurts are team in multiple ways . First since none of these prospects get developed their trade value is zero.Secondly we never know how good they might have been if given good coaching and playing time early in their careers

  • James Patrick

    We can't keep blaming the refs on these loses. It's getting redundant. Things should turn around when Pierce is back but if it doesn't then press the panic button but until then

  • someguyinsac

    Great job on making layout changes! Did you all make team changes too to fit the new format? ;)

  • red

    While i know C` fans are disappointed at Bradley s` play in his athletic ability lies our best chance to create havoc off penetration. It`s to bad he is a mediocre passer,horrible jump shooter, and as timid a deer when going to the rim .I hope Bradley keeps up with these boards like TA used to and has chance to read this either completely fail or be a overwhelming success but don`t settle for being average or slightly below average as you are now..

  • CG12

    I don't understand the criticism that the Cs do a bad job drafting and developing young talent. they haven't had a top draft pick since… Jeff Green, who was flipped to bring in Ray Allen, initiating the Big 3 era. Guys in the second half of the first round often don't pan out, and it is pretty rare to get anything of value in the second round. I was just looking at recent 2nd round picks, and was reminded that the Cs picked up Baby in the Allen trade after he was drafted by Seattle in the 2d round. And now we have Brandon Bass! But there is a reason these guys aren't picked high.

    And as far as playing the young guys, it is a bit of the old back-up quarterback syndrome. You can put all your hopes and dreams on the guys who don't play, without reality getting in the way. Doc sees these guys all the time in preseason, practice, and games. Trust me – he knows more about them than you do. In any event, the young guns will get their chance later in the season when the grind really starts to add up.

    • OKCeltic

      CG12 – I agree with your first point about the draft picks but don't totally buy your second point about the young guys. We're not asking Doc to replace the starters with the young guys, just give them a couple of minutes a game to get adjusted to the "speed of the game" so to speak. That provides two benefits, they actually get on the floor in real-game situations against someone other than their teammates and the veterans get much-needed rest. Of course, games against the top-line teams will have them seeing less time, but there's no reason they shouldn't get 8-10 minutes a game against the lesser teams in the league. It doesn't do anyone any good to give them 4-5 minutes of trash time in 20-point blowouts like has been the case in the past.

      • Los

        exactly look at Popovich. The other night he sat out duncan for the entire second half. why? because when you're down big on the road in a packed schedule it's pointless to ride out your vets for a game you're probably not going to win. Games such as those would be perfect for rookies to get a feel for game situations rather than the garbage time they are currently given, pretty much like the NO game in which the team looked lifeless and a W was clearly out of reach. Doc needs to pick his battles carefully if they want to head into the playoffs with a strong group

        • CG12

          I see your point, but I have a hard time saying "we are down by 20 at the half, lets throw in the towel." The Cs were down big in both the Knicks and Heat games and ended up with a real chance to win them. Losing to a supposedly bottom of the barrel team like NO to go to 0-3 leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth, and I'm sure Doc really wanted to win that game. A loss by a 2-0 Spurs team on the back side of a back-to-back is a lot easier to choke down. And for the Spurs it meant playing Dejuan Blair, Thiago Splitter, and Kawhi Leonard more, which is a lot different than playing Jujuan Johnson. And the Steamer was bad ass.

          In any event, Doc has always been this way, whether the Cs just have rookies who aren't ready to step in or because he just doesn't play rookies. Fans have been complaining about this with Doc since he wouldn't give Gerald Green more burn. I tend to side with Doc, but do agree that the young guys will need to get some chances. I think they will get them later in the season. For now Doc wants to get some positive mojo flowing.

  • hallik

    So, lack of scoring…how about Gilbert Arenas? Same deal as Delonte non-guaranteed contract you act up we cut you. Do you think it could work. I mean he wouldnt be running point it would be at the two, with his 'iffy' knees he could at least spread the floor a little if he regains his shooting touch, what do you guys think?

  • High Rollers

    Instead of counting sheep at night, I run down the C's roster. While it's hard to sleep being 0 for three, I still like our crew. All the guys we got are gonna be hungry to tear it up in May. Just gotta find identity and cohesion 'til then, get in sync with each other. Maybe not Ubuntu anymore… but all for one and one for all perhaps? We've already got Air France Pietrus, why not go with a French theme? Joie de vivre, C's!

    I want some quality zzzzz's after our win tonight. Vamos! Wait a minute, that's Spanish. How about this… WIN!!!

    • High Rollers

      NB: Piet-y is from Guadeloupe. I wonder what they say down there when they want to get on the same page…

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