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 Moore. Keyon 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.