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Absent Celtics: Time To Step Up

 


The Celtics are well-positioned to take control of this series tonight but we should be a little worried about the cumulative burden on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Garnett is averaging over 40 minutes a game through the first three games and Pierce is averaging a staggering 44 minutes per. What’s more: these aren’t easy mid-February vs. Charlotte cruise control minutes. These are, to repurpose a phrase from MLB, high leverage minutes. Pierce and Garnett are carrying the burden because the Celtics can’t win without them doing so.

Garnett is averaging a sterling 18.3 points and 12.3 rebounds while Pierce has gone for 23 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4 assists. Those are great numbers but the Celtics need contributions from other places to ensure they have enough in the tank to compete in the second round, should they manage to put away the Hawks, and the third, where the Miami Heat will be waiting. That’s one of the problems the playoffs present for a team like the Celtics. It’s a marathon and a sprint. And at their current pace, the Celtics aged trio won’t be able to recover efficiently enough to carry the ball for the next six weeks.

Which means it’s time for the contract-year duo of Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus to check into the series on offense.

Bass is averaging 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds on 45% shooting. He’s getting to the line only 2 times per game. Each of those numbers is a drop-off from his regular season averages.

Pietrus can claim some impressive defensive contributions, particularly a big fourth quarter in game two, but he’s been a disaster on the offensive end. He’s averaging 2 points a game in 21 minutes. He’s shooting 25% from the field and the three-point arc. He’s been called out by his coach and teammates for a lack of focus.

Last season, the Celtics were eliminated by the Heat because Miami’s best players outplayed Boston’s best players. You’d be forgiven if you see that same scenario on the road ahead, particularly if an exhausted Pierce has to line up against LeBron James seven times, and Garnett has to check Chris Bosh and cover Miami pick and rolls and rotate all over the court to cut off Miami penetration.

The job of the Boston role players is to enable the starters.

It’s game four tonight. If not now, then when?

  • ElRoz

    It's incredible how absent Bass has been. Especially if one compares his 3 games with Big Baby's 4 game average in Orlando's playoffs – Big Baby has been arguably their best player; Bass has been a non-entity – at least if he decided to hit the boards or something, but no.

    • dearjohn

      wow you dont know anything, bass didnt have rondo getting him open for game 2. game 3 atlanta had a small line up so they took him out. bass is used to playing 35mins and now hes only playing 28ish. and baby has become the number 2-3 option for orlando. imagine if dwight is back baby wont even get those numbers. and baby isnt even efficient.

  • http://clarkwalkerstudio.com Luke Walker

    Great post Ryan – you nailed it. Pierce disappeared in game 3, but it's understandable with his game 2 performance. It was almost a given he wasn't going to have anything left in the tank. But he and KG have really carried this team so far…. Ray gave solid minutes in game 3 and Rondo played classic Rondo ball in the 2nd half. The Cs stand a good chance tonight if 1. Rondo decided to take over the pace of the game and control it or 2. Bass decides to wake up from his multi-week coma he's been in. I think if Rondo is in rhythm Brandon's game is the one that benefits the most anyway… he doesn't get those wide open mid range jumpers without Rondo's pretty feeds. Hopefully those 2 can help carry the load tonight and give the Cs all the momentum.

    • dearjohn

      disappearence? he had 14 ft attempts. did you even watch. imagine you take a shot and someone whacks you, can you still make that shot?

  • High Rollers

    Pure, unadulterated bad match-ups going on for those two, plus they've both had under-the-radar knee problems in the past month or so. The one guy who's proven he can push his guys into the right positions and leverage their abilities, however, is Rondo. With a post-suspension game under his belt already, look for the kid to pull the strings on BB, MP tonight. He can get them in the right places on O much better than anybody else, including themselves. The one thing we can't have though is head-hanging pouty faces. Has to be all energy and focus. This ain't Orlando.

  • CelticsBIG3

    The minutes they are playing are truly scary. Hopefully, we can somehow put them away early tonight and buy back some time that Garnett and Pierce have sweated out on the floor. In an unrelated note, referee Marc Davis (of Rondo ejection fame), just tried to eject a fan at the Sixers game.

  • Jman

    Just go to the hoop stop shooting and go to the hoop…The other night was horrible. They had the Hawks in foul troubole early and never went to the hoop i the 4th. And Pierce should of taken the foul instead of trying to shoot the ball especially since the officials were calling them all night. If they go to the hoop and get Smith in Foul trouble early, the game can be an easy win. IF they try to match jum shots, it'll be like the other night Rondo needs to step up his defense as well Horrible the other night. And Rondo and Pierce need to switch on bringing the ball up to Need to mix up the hawks defense

  • skeeds

    I'm not that worried about MP, because although he's guilty of some erratic behavior on the court, he shows a lot of motivation, and has been almost excellent defending Joe Johnson for stretches. He has to make it more of a priority to score, and I think he will.
    Bass on the other hand, looks unmotivated, and flat out lethargic most of the time, not just in the playoffs. Not at all what I'd expect from a Celtic player, not in the playoffs. Even JO woke up and tried to help last year.

  • Nathan

    You said its time for doc to have a little more faith in the bench
    Quid Daniels gets a DNP in game 3 after a great game 2 and Greg Steisma seems to be glued I the bench
    Come on doc !!!!
    Let’s Go celtics!!!!

  • Anthony

    One issue that I see is Doc has gone away from his 8 rotation guys which has been successful the latter part of the season. Granted, Rondo's suspension and Ray/AB's uncertainty hasn't helped, Doc is just reacting to Hawks gameplan as opposed to forcing Hawks to play into Celts' gameplan. Secondly, outside of KG, Celts just isn't playing with the aggressiveness and intensity needed for the playoff.

    All that being said, I see the Celts stepping up and playing with more aggression and purpose tonite. Pierce will have a good shooting game and will hit 2 or more 3s. If AB misses game 4, I see Quis stepping up and providing solid mins.

    With Philly looking closer and closer to beating the Bulls, Celts couldn't have ask for a better opportunity and must take advantage of it. Looks like Celts will have homecourt in 2nd round!

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