Grades by Hayes and Brian. Our recap generator is acting up so check out box score for full numbers….
|Paul Pierce, SF As one of the few Celtics with the ability to get to the rim, Pierce had a moral obligation to go after the depleted Hawks frontcourt tonight. At the end of the game, he was 3-5 at the basket and 2-14 everywhere else. His final shot chart looks like the easiest treasure map ever. Even if he’d missed 14 shots at the basket, he’d easily have ended up with more than 3 free throws, an inexcusable number against this team. (C-).|
|Brandon Bass, PF Lackluster. He’s got an extremely tough matchup against Josh Smith out there, and he’s fallen into a bit of a slump over the past few games. Reason for concern on a team in dire need of offense with Allen out, but Bass has looked out of sync lately and nothing changed on that front tonight.|
|Kevin Garnett, PF The man with the most reliable motor in professional sports fell asleep for the first half of this game. He was three steps behind Josh Smith on defense and refused to attempt any shots other than heavily-contested 20-foot jumpers. He was himself again down the stretch, burying shots and extinguishing Smith, but the damage he was partly responsible for was already done. Two shots at the basket in the entire game.|
|Rajon Rondo, PG Are we allowed to give grades for the first 47 minutes? If so, this grade reflects that. Offensively, Rajon did his job tonight for a largely stagnant Celtics offense, hitting a couple jumpers, getting to the rim and trying to get out and run. 43 minutes, 20 points 11 assists and just one turnover. You’ll take that any day of the week from Rajon. Yet, this will all rightfully be overshadowed by Rondo’s outburst and chest bump after the foul call on Brandon Bass. Barring a very generous interpetation by the league office Rajon will be good as gone for Game 2, and not only that, he cost this team any chance it had in the last 40 seconds by giving the Hawks two extra free throws. I’d write more about this right now but I don’t want to break my keyboard.|
|Avery Bradley, SG Good energy defensively, some nice cuts, but the outside shooting was not there tonight. You can’t expect him to carry the offensive fort on a night where Pierce goes 5 of 19 from the field, but this was a kind of night where you hoped his new-found outside touch carried over from the regular season, since he was the main guy getting the good looks.|
|Keyon Dooling, Classic Keyon. If Rondo’s gone for Game 2, this will not work.|
|Sasha Pavlovic, SF If you only manage four individual statistical units in a game, you’d better not make three of them turnovers or fouls.|
|Mickael Pietrus, SF He’s normally only called upon for his defense, which he inflicted pretty well on both Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams in his 20 minutes. But as long as Allen’s out, he’s going to need to take some of the scoring burden off of his teammates. 0 points on two missed threes is well short of acceptable|
Five Things We Saw
- The opposite of what we should’ve seen. Atlanta, not a strong rebounding team to begin with, was playing without their starting and backup centers. The Celtics responded by getting outrebounded 48-40 and only earning 13 free throws, all because they inexplicably chose to confine their offense to difficult jump shots early in the shot clock. Just a catastrophe of a game plan.
- Josh Smith, eater of worlds. With his team’s two best rebounders out, Smith took advantage of a ground-bound Boston frontcourt for 18 rebounds. I wonder if Garnett brought his torch to Atlanta, or if he’ll be passing it later on in a private ceremony.
- A long-range nightmare. With Ray Allen out, Boston went 0-11 from three, with the entire team barely edging Joe Johnson for misses from that area.
- A three-quarter Boston win. If the Celtics had managed to tie the first quarter rather than take a relaxed dump on the court, they’d win this game by four.
- Boston’s best player removing himself from the game. The call was terrible, but that doesn’t excuse Rondo’s mistake. Hope he got his money’s worth out of that gentle bump, because if he gets suspended Boston’s almost certainly heading home down two games.
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Brian Robb co-founded CelticsHub in 2009 and is the currently editor-in-chief. He is a producer and reporter at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and also contributes to Boston.com and Bleacher Report among other outlets.
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