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Silver Linings from Game 1

Let’s talk silver linings.  After the Celtics lost Game 1 pretty convincingly behind an extremely weak second half offensive showing, it’s really easy to focus on the negatives.  In order to gear up for tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery Game 2, let’s go through why Game 1 looked bad but actually wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to the C’s.

1) No one got injured.

This “silver lining” almost goes without saying at this point but it bears mentioning considering the Celtics are an injury away from completely being out of this series.  Notice how I didn’t qualify that with any player or class of players.  The Celtics can’t afford to lose anyone with the way Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus are playing (most notably: hurt).  While it’s unlikely that Allen and Pietrus get healthier as the series continues, they may establish some sort of rhythm on the offensive end; at least enough to make a contribution.

2) Doc still has cards to play.

This doesn’t exactly make anyone’s confidence rise, but Doc Rivers can shuffle his lineups a bit to help ease the burden on the Celtics rotation players.  For example, Sasha Pavlovic can guard any combination of Mike Miller, James Jones, and Shane Battier.  Both he, and Marquis Daniels also have six fouls that can be utilized as physical leeway with LeBron James.  Right now, they’re just getting unused.  The Celtics have already begun to talk about getting tougher against Miami’s slashers and needing to do a better job of protecting the rim.  While they don’t have Jermaine O’Neal or Shaq to patrol to paint providing deterrence anymore, they do have Ryan Hollins.  Not exactly a name that puts fear in the Heat’s heart but he may be the lone player on the Celtics roster willing/capable of really putting someone on the deck.  Hollins only played 4 minutes in Game 1, so if Doc Rivers decides to go with a big lineup, Hollins should get more burn.

Despite having the clear advantage in the paint, it may behoove the Celtics to trot out a smaller lineup with more shooting.  Going small could mean mixing in Pavlovic and Daniels, but should also extend to E’Twaun MooreKeyon Dooling is doing a great job pestering Wade with his active hands (which is exactly how Avery Bradley had success guarding Wade), but seeing him airball three pointers could be more jarring than a LeBron James thrown down in transition.  Moore would provide a huge upgrade on offense as he’s shown the ability to both hit open threes and floaters in the lane.  There’s no way Moore could guard Wade, but he could be trusted to get some burn on Mario Chalmers.

3) If not for missing free throws…

It’s easy to point to one glaring weakness after a game and launch into a million of “what if” statements.  So let’s do it!  The Celtics 11-for-21 from the charity stripe.  That’s a ten point swing.  How would the analysis have changed had there not been five technical fouls called on the C’s?  How would the analysis of the game changed if this was correctly called a travel:

I expect the officiating to be decidedly different in Game 2.  I’m thinking there’ll be a lot more of this:

and fewer technicals.


There are other ways to see this game.  Things could definitely get worse for the Celtics going forward but despite how poorly they played in the second half of Game 1, the C’s showed that they can put up points on the Heat (35 in Q2) and they know the Heat cannot rely on their inconsistent bench to pick them up the way they did in Game 1.

  • CG12

    If the Cs are going big to protect the paint and the rim, I'm thinking Stiemsma over Hollins. Hollins is better playing the pick and roll out on the perimeter, Stiemer is a far better help shot-blocker. Stiemsma vs. LeBron/Wade is the biggest refereeing mismatch in world history, but still. Also, the Celts offense was just terrible for much of the game, and Stiemsma is a far better offensive player than Hollins. He can hit the 15-foot J and is developing a bit of a knack for just hanging around the rim and picking up dump offs from Rondo penetration or when the D is rotating on pick and roll coverage.

  • IBleedGreen

    I think the C's advantage in the patint has been way overblown by the folks here. There may be an advantage IF Garnett decides he wants to live in the paint, but we know it is not going to happen. And last I check Joel Anthony is a pretty decend defender and shot blocker. Who else other than KG really has an advantage in the block? Bass? Let now kid ourselves. Miami is not as big as Boston but they are WAY more athletic, and it shows in block shots and rebounding in game 1.

    • IBleedGreen

      *Let's not kid

  • High Rollers

    IBleedGreen, we’re not talking bigger, we’re talking taller, and it showed in that points-filled second quarter when we got some flow going in a lot of areas and we were making an impact in the paint. But like another CHub post pointed out, very little margin for error because of the athleticism and talent on ther other side and the attrition that’s thinned us out all season. I like this post. No rain, no rainbows.

    • IBleedGreen

      When I say bigger, I imply taller too…But C's big guys are perimeter players so there really isn't as much advantage as people make it out to be. Also, controlling the paint does not equal dumping the ball to the big guys inside all the time. The wing players can be just as effective by penetrating and either finsihing or creating shots for others. Miami has two of the best players who can do just that. When you look at San Antonio, they are not a low-post team, but they also have two great penetrators and finishers in Parker and Ginobili who can dominate the paint without being big and tall. Celtics just don't have that type of players. Rondo can get to the paint but he is a lousy finisher (practice your layup please). PP used to be able to do that but he is too old too slow and too injured to do that now.

      • nbababble

        Rondo's not really a lousy finisher. He can score. He needs to be careful with the ball I think is the bigger thing and keep crashing the boards. Is it crazy to think he's the Celtics best rebounder now?

        I wrote a piece about some of this recently that's fairly relevant:

  • High Rollers

    I know Doc showed the guys a film montage/homage/(and hopefully)elegy to their defensive lapses and the Heat’s ensuing layup line yesterday. But next time he should whip out all the footage of when Miami’s gone perimeter and stunk up the joint. I know their Big 2 is on a roll, but they’re still streaky at the end of the day. You only get to reveal those warts if you keep them out there chucking.

  • High Rollers

    Valid points, but I think you’ll see more success from PP’s and RR’s drives tonight for a variety of reasons. As for San Antonio, they’re receiving better picks on a defense that’s not adjusting well enough to make a difference. As great as Manu/TP are looking right now, I’m still bullish on our duo. They do need a better showing tonight. A few shots go down, we get the call in our favor on a few contact filled drives, you might be surprised at the outcome.

  • High Rollers

    One thing the Spurs do seem to have that the C’s could aspire to is impeccable decision making out there. It’s like eight or nine out of every ten situations they make the right move. Having guys healthy and well rested helps, having dependable three point shooting from multiple spots on the floor simultaneously helps. Having young opponents with limited systems also helps. And a lot these contingencies we obviously lack at this juncture. That’s why “Random” has its own index in our playbook these days. Nevertheless, we can and must emulate the Spurs in that one area–decision making–if we want to challenge for a spot against (likely) them in the final round.

    • skeeds

      It really helps that they're built around a multi-championship 3 man core of basketball masterminds. Cause there are few players out there smarter than Timmy (maybe none). Parker has perfected the scoring PG thing to a point that he can drop 50 any night. As for Ginobili, half that guy's moves don't even have a name. He tore that OKC defense in G1 apart, by sheer confusion. There's crafty, and there's "my mind works faster than yours" crafty.
      Add a handpicked supporting cast coached to perfection by the best coach out there, and I can really see them winning it all, for all the same reasons Dallas did last year.

  • skeeds

    The one thing that stood out for me in game 1, is how much we underestimated Lebron. Our strategy was to collapse on him, allowing everyone else to get open. And he finds people. It's kind of his thing…

    Look. At this point in his career, Lebron deserves, and commands the same respect Jordan and Magic did. Yes. He is THAT dangerous. To have a chance of controlling him, you need to disrupt his game every way possible. In seasons past, to contain him, Doc through everything at him. It took Marquis, Tony Allen and Pierce spending 15 fouls a game on him and knocking him on the floor time after time for us to shut him down in 2010.
    Right now, he's much better than '10. We need to foul him hard, rotate defenders on him every 5 minutes if we have to, if they get tired. AND he needs to be fouled EVERY SINGLE TIME he drives! This is the best (by far) player in basketball right now. Pierce's stubbornness can't beat him. I'm not talking dirty at all. But if he's allowed the time and space to take his man off the dribble, (which he did many times in game 1) then you're not playing him hard enough.

    Oh, and Wade needs to have a closer look at the floor too. I don't care if Stiemsma, Hollins, Jajuan, and Bass must foul out every game. You. cannot. let. Wade. Make. Layups.

    • CG12

      The Cs have previously had a lot of success keeping Miami out of the paint, but really struggled last game. You have to force Wade and LeBron to take jumpers. And many of the lineups that the Cs have been using don't feature a lot of protection at the rim. If Stiemsma doesn't foul out of this game, then Doc is doing something wrong.

      • skeeds

        I agree 100%. One more thing. If they make it all the way to the rim, the battle's lost already. We have 5 above average perimeter defenders. PP, Marquis, Pavlovic, MP and Dooling. They need to pick them up close from outside the 3 point line. Especially Lebron.
        The more I watch this guy, the more I realize what a complete nightmare he is. I cannot think of any player strong enough, fast enough and good enough a defender to stay on him when he has space to operate. Maybe past Pierce. But right now, no one…

    • tbunny

      Why Doc has buried Pavlovic I don't get. Even if he doesn't trust him, he's got to at least try Sasha in this series and hope he can frustrate Lebron and Wade a bit.

  • Tom

    i dont think this is just a slump for allen, u cant be this bad on a slump.i think he is done and if the heat dont get bored the celts are done! wrote all about it here http://nbawagers.com/2012/05/beat-the-heat/

    • CG12

      a. you are an idiot. b. stop plugging your stupid website on here. that is all.

  • janos

    Hi Brayden, is Janos
    is possible site do on brief previews lottery, i like know who has chance top pick and what players best for take, i kentuckys guy top but beyond, game changer guy or not?
    or web team busy on game 2 preps so you can rcomend good links for read draft today? iam at home current today, and night so chance catch up news celtics also other team nba

  • Tracy Whitaker

    Why doesent Doc play Sasha Pavlovic?Boston needs someone to shoot the three and Ray Allen isnt getting the job done.Come on Doc !!

  • Phil

    I would be shocked if Doc started playing end of the bench guys at this point. If the last month hasn't been enough to convince him that he should play someone besides Ray, nothing will. I think its probably mostly respect for Allen at this point, that he already took his starting job, and benching him for Sasha Pavlovic is just too much, but its kind of irrelevant. Doc's comments indicated to me that he planned on playing Ray still.

    And don't do the whole bad calls for the Heat changing the game thing, you're gonna make the homers' heads explode. Calls didn't decide anything in a twenty point game, the Celtics putrid offense did (11 points in the first quarter, really?) Fans have enough of a problem with confirmation bias as it is…

  • Lantrell Walker

    One thing that I really liked from Game 1 was the switching of the pick-and-rolls with Wade/Lebron, the only issue was that the Heat got a lot of second shots off missed long jumpers. Just gotta clean up the rebounding, get more free throws/shoot a better free throw % and most importantly establish KG down low early & throughout and we'll welcome the C's home on Friday with a 1-1 split.


  • andre

    they need to play sean williams even if its just 10 mintues. he's a good rebonder & way better shot blocker then hollins

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