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Grisly, Indeed: Memphis 93, Boston 83

This is a dark ride.

The Celtics lost their fourth in a row tonight against Memphis, although if you’re of a mind to be encouraged, this defeat came by less than 20 points. However, in the battle of the return of the elite perimeter defenders, Tony Allen out savior’ed Avery Bradley with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Bradley’s offense looked rusty after the long layoff but if tonight is any indication, he should be back into defensive form soon. So, there’s that.

Still, the offense remains a mess. The Celtics were lucky to come as close as they did tonight with Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combining to go 15-39 (Rondo doesn’t look entirely healthy).

For your thoughts: short of personnel changes, what’s to be done to get this team scoring?

  • Vince

    Ask the NBA to increase the diameter of the rims? Tonight's game was painful to watch. The C's simply don't create open looks or easy baskets — it's as hard to watch them as it is for them to score. Yikes.

  • Kyle Jordan

    Collins should not be starting. At the very least, they should not be trying to use him in pick-and-rolls. More minutes for Sullinger (though yes, the fouls are obviously a problem) and more minutes for Green at the 4. You might say that unit would be too small, but the Celtics don't have any legit rebounding bigs beyond Garnett and Sullinger so you might as well get a little more athleticism and offensive ability out there.

  • taylor franklin

    why dont they drive to the hole more often and produce fouls? is it because of how small we are?

    Great to see Bradley on the court tonight! when will we choose to bring in Melo?

    • seer

      I've noticed that when KG, Bass, and Collins screen for Rondo, they are actually executing moving screens in most cases and sometimes the refs recognize it as a violation. These violations can deflate a teams' momentum and cause players to lose confidence. I regard the Celtic's tendency to set moving screens as a coaching flaw and a failure to attempt to perfect the fundamentals of the game. Is this being ignored by the Celtic's coaching staff or are they working on this resolving this problem in practice? This also suggests the Celtics are out of sync offensively as a good screen and roll requires excellent timing between the screener and the ball handler.

  • Phil

    Trade for Darrell Arthur to add his sweet 3 pt stroke?

    I don't think there's a good answer outside of banishing Collins though. All available pieces to add are one sided defense/rebounding guys. Teams tend to hold on to good offensive players. We just have to hope that the team as currently constructed has another level in them. I do think Rondo is dinged up at the absolute worst time.

    Getting Collins out of the lineup is a move that has to happen now, right? How much more evidence do we need? We know that lineups with Collins at the 5 can't score, but we don't know if lineups with Bradley at the 2 and KG at the 5 can reach the elite defensive level from last year.

    • High Rollers

      That first part is funny. As for Rondo, no. The playoffs are the worst possible time for injury.

      No doubt Doc is trying to decide when to give Sully a starting role. The quick fouls on the rook are as troublesome as KG's limited minutes, it seems. We definitely need him out there more.

      And man, you need a film session as badly as the C's. But the C's shouldn't be watching The Matrix. They should be watching tape of failing to get to the stripe after getting their opponent into the penalty early (SMH!), defensive fly-bys (double SMH!), and the constant lagging behind or committing cheap fouls after messed up offensive possessions (triple…. well, you get the picture). This is head-stuff. Just like the Matrix.

      • Phil

        You got me, I forgot to qualify with 'in the regular season'. I think it's obvious that we're playing very long odd roulette with injuries in the playoffs. This team can not afford an injury to any of their top… six? players come playoff time.

        The Rondo injury is so bad right now because not only are the Cs trying to work Bradley back in, but they still have Collins in the starting lineup, so you have ~18 minutes of 3 or 4 on 5, and that usually overlaps with KG's limited minutes. If Rondo isn't 100%, now we're down to 2.5 on 5 or so. That starting lineup depends on him creatively so heavily with Bradley back and Collins there.

        And I do need a big film session, my list of popular movies I've never seen is longer than the list of people who've blown by Terry on the perimeter this year.

        • Josh_5

          Wow Phil, that many?!

  • elroz

    Well, the bench of Green, Terry, Lee, and Bass shot the ball well tonight..but the PP,KG,RR groups got most of the shots and bricked too many. On the west coast trip, it was often the other way – Green got a lot more shots in some games than KG – and Green missed his, while KG made his.

    Just bad luck I guess? Celtics frontline did a good job on the Gasol-Randolph duo…but the guards killed the Celtics.

    I have to say let's wait… give them 41 games, please.

  • Mark

    Make shots. Although this game isn't the best example there have been numerous games this season where Rondo and to a lesser extent Pierce have set up the other guys nicely with wide open shots time and time again and the end result is a miss. Granted misses happen but this season the bread and butter shots for Lee, Terry, Bass and even KG and Pierce to a degree are no longer their bread and butter.

    This feels like the end of the road. Optimism is one thing but we are getting smacked over the head repeatedly by reality. We need to wake up at some point and realize this team doesn't have "it". The same "it" that got a not so good team last season to one game from the NBA Finals. I wonder if a few additional guys from last season shouldn't have been resigned along with Bass and Green.

    • seer

      Hindsight is better than foresight.

  • someguyinsac

    Tough to suggest any changes just yet now that Bradley has returned to play, maybe a few games more with him in them will give a better view of what may need to be changed line-up wise again?

  • ThisIsIt

    I keep hoping that the C's can make a comeback in the fourth but in the last four games that's been too much to ask for. C's have got to start off strong and make runs early in the game. They are good at closing only if the deficit is reasonable.

    @ Clips 4th quarter: 10 – 24
    @ GSW 4th quarter: 16 – 25
    @ Kings 4th quarter: 24 – 34

    PS: they've looked especially terrible in the 4th quarter recently. But so have they every quarter

  • Danny

    Damn this sucks.

  • Anthony

    Does anyone else think Terry needs to play less mins? He's horrible defensively and his shots has been off so far this year. Instead of replacing Ray, I don't even think he's even replacing Keyon. Celts were up 4 when Terry came in and Mike Conley instantly scored 4pts and drove and kicked out for another 3pts. That pretty much started the Grizzlies run. He just stand and watches instead of rotating and is a worse culprit of the turnstile defense than Rondo.

    I was a big believer in JGreen but it's just getting sad now. I didn't even notice when he was in the game. Also, what happened to Bass? Why does he feel the need to pump fake open looks, put the ball on the floor just to turn it over? Just shoot the open jumper! Why is Bass setting the pick at the 3point line and beyond? When he gets the ball back on the pick-and-pop, he's 20ft out, which is out of his range. SMH

    Can anyone give me the silver lining for this season? In the bad start last season, there was 4-5 games that they really should've won. That would've made their record a respectable 19-13 instead of 15-17. They played with so much more heart and passion. Also Pierce wasn't in game shape yet, AB hasn't made his giant stride, and JO was still in the starting line-up.

    31 regular season and 8 preseason games isn't enough to time to gel?

  • IBleedGreen

    Avery Bradley is an average role player at best. I have no idea why everyone is so high on him. The fact is nobody gives a shit about his return other than Celtic fans. Is he going to make the team better? Maybe. But to expect him to save the team is ridiculous. Is it like expect Steve Blake to turn the Lakers around. Who are you kidding?

    • seer

      It will be difficult for Bradley to become an impact player on this team. Right now, from my perspective, Boston is at best an average team for reasons other than a poor talent base. In other words, the team possesses lots of potential, but can the Boston coaches provide the players the necessary instruction so that that potential can be realized. Remember in basketball at every level that success starts with the quick proper execution of the fundamentals on both ends of the court and in transition. For example, on many occasions in the game last night against the Grizzlies, Boston failed to score because of poor ball-handling skills, moving screens on pick-and-rolls due to poor timing, and poor shooting skills. Sometimes the skill level a player brings to a game is affected by his energy level, and a player's low energy level may be the result of the amount of energy expended during practice on the previous day. In other words, players who endure a hard practice on Tuesday may not have enough energy in Wednesday's game to make shots. Remember the body produces energy at its own pace.

  • High Rollers

    P started out hot but got rattled with a funny-bone or shoulder stinger. If I remember right, his shot was off after that.

    I still think the first thing that will free up our constipated O will be Neo's return to form (on both ends).

    Another thing is don't play Jet, Bass, and Green together because they're the worst about committing defensive sins after failed possessions. Just plain bad habits, seems like. That's more about defense after bad offense, but it totally stalls the pace and affects the O nevertheless.

    Be more aggressive. Move the ball more. Make the extra pass. Be in the right place. Trust each other and then keep trusting each other. Avoid hero-ball. All of these things would further help the O. And they can't be talked into happening. They just have to be done and then done again. Lather, rinse, repeat. And suck it up about the record as it is now. It doesn't have to be that way in a few months. Heck, it could be much better looking by the end of January.

    • High Rollers

      And how about some KG/Jet pick-and-roll action? Wasn't that Terry's bread-and-butter with Dirk down in Dallas? I recall him doing a lot of creating in his role there, especially in the fourth quarter of games (so much so that people actually called him "Mr. Fourth Quarter.") He shouldn't hesitate to tell Doc about some of the things that actually worked for him before.

      • GMan

        I also read Doc saying bradley's return will help Terry because he(Terry) can share the floor with another ballhandler to set him up. Doc clearly has a different understanding on how to use Jet. I mean chances are Doc knows a lot more about basketball then we do, but Jet was great being the ballhandler in P&R situations. Everyone agreed he's not a Ray type shooter/scorer, and that's exactly what made his signing so intriguing. I don't get it.
        I still believe in this Team though, in retrospect since 2007 they never gave me a reason not to.

  • Phil

    "Your comment must be approved by the site admins before it will appear publicly."

    Huh? Did I go over a post limit or something? Or did I typo some kind of ToS violation… Is this site run by a family member of Jeff Green or Jason Collins?

    • Ryan DeGama

      Probably an aberration. Let us know if it happens again…

  • james patrick

    we suck. but it's january 2nd. we have time.

  • Phil

    Something scary I just noticed; Terry's numbers aren't that far off of his career averages…

    He's 4.5 points below his career points average, but that's mostly because he's taking about 4 less shots per game. He's only 1.5% FG% below his career average and his 3pt % is right on. This is basically who he is, he's just not shooting… enough…

    I just got a similar feeling to the one I got when I heard that all 36m of the Jeff Green contract were guaranteed…

    • Phil

      His assist numbers are down, and that's in line with his overall usage being down, so maybe that goes up with his 6th man role, though I still contend that he should be playing with Bradley more than Rondo. It's still really depressing to realize that neither his shooting or defense is likely to improve.

    • Josh_5

      Wow, that is kind of eye-opening and depressing. I don't want to sound panicky but looking at Jet's, Rondo's, KG's, and Pierce's career shooting stats, Nobody is really struggling relative to their mean. Ughhh shouldn't have looked into that.

  • Phil

    So I was reading Basketball Reference for fun like I do, and I was gonna post this once the grades went up, but I may as well post it while the vomit taste is still in my mouth:

    The Cs offense is 9.4 points per 100 worse with Collins on the floor, which is only slightly worse than the 5.6 points that the defense goes down when he comes in.

    15 points per 100 worse than the opponent is like Bradley's savior run from last year, only the complete opposite. I knew he was bad, but even I didn't know Jason Collins was the antichrist!

  • johnnynba

    The Celtics really need a big man who can do the dirty work, Kenyon Martin is that guy.. Now with Avery Bradley back in the lineup, Leandro Barbosa won't get to see the court, not even in blowouts. I understood the Barbosa signing at the beginning of the year when they knew AV was going to be out a couple of months. But now? It's just a wasted spot that could easily be used for another guy in the paint who can help KG in the rebounding department.

    • Phil

      The Cs have an open roster spot from waiving Darko, so they could sign someone like Martin without getting rid of Barbosa.

      • Phil

        My mistake, forgot about Varnado (and how could I? He's been so memorable…) His contract's not guaranteed though, so he would likely be the low man on the totem pole come time to waive someone rather than Barbosa.

    • seer

      You're right. What are they going to do with Barbosa now? I'm sure Danny Ainge is doing his very best, but what he really needed was a "pure" point guard to back up Rondo, not multiple shooting guards who are more comfortable in the two position. So at this time Boston has no legitimate back up for Rondo and they have too many shooting guards. When Ainge was playing, he was a shooting guard. Does that make sense? The Celtics also need a really active center who can score and play defense and take some of the pressure off Kevin, who in turn needs to continue to play hard and with intensity but try to relax at the free throw line.

  • C2k

    Start Jarvis Varnado at Center. What do we have to lose?

  • Danny

    I dunno guys I don’t really see a viable fix for this team. On paper this team should be good unfortunetly on paper doesn’t mean shit. Just ask the 2011 Red Sox. Sad to say maybe the window closed and we already missed it. Ill always watch the celts but feels a lot like 06 again. Granted we aren’t gonna lose 22 in a row but its the same hopeless feeling for me anyway night in night out getting out worked by other teams making it look easy while we struggle to even get a shot off.

    • seer

      Don't despair. All is not lost.

  • seer

    There have been other major problems on this team, problems that have nothing to do with Bradley's absence, but you are correct in taking a wait-and-see attitude. Other less patient Celtic fans are now advocating blowing up this team and firing Doc and trading the players who don't play with passion and a sense of urgency.

    Here is a problem I noticed in last night's game. With about five minutes left in the first quarter, major substitutions were made by Doc Rivers. At the time the score was 20-18, the Grizzlies with the lead. Boston was fighting hard to take the lead and likely would have done so if no changes had been made at that time. Instead, in my view, because of the substitutions that wreaked havoc on Boston's offensive and defensive effectiveness, the Grizzlies extended their lead. Boston eventually fought back and ended up ahead at the end of the first quarter by one point, 26 to 25. Without the substitutions I am confident the Celtics would have built a much larger lead. Basketball is a game of rhythm, pace, skill, and execution. Sometimes players may not get their rhythm on offense, on defense, and in transitions until after a quarter or two. When a coach makes a major lineup change halfway through the first quarter, that coach may not understand what such a drastic change so early in the game does to his team's rhythm and execution.

    • Josh_5

      Completely agree with you here seer. I don't believe that would have had an impact on the outcome of the game however, but in general, coaches can do alot of damage to players' rhythm if they are not careful.

  • Josh_5

    Here are 3 things that if happen, (and they are by no means a stretch at all) will vastly improve our current C's:
    1) Rondo stays healthy and ups his ppg to 15
    2) Sully starts and stays out of foul trouble
    3) Either Bass or Green or Lee (only 1 outta 3) steps their game up to a reasonable level

    On top of those things, I didn't even list Bradley returning as a huge boost. There are many things to look forward to with this squad, right now were just stuck at the bottom.Hang in there folks.

  • James H

    Seems like part of the problem is that Doc hasn't found a consistent rotation beyond PP, KG and RR. He needs to make some calls – KG starts C and name a starting PF (Bass, Green or Sullinger – but pick one). Is the starting shooting guard Lee or Terry, or now Bradley? It is time for Doc to figure this out so that everyone can start determining their roles. You can see that the chemistry is all off – there just seem to be too many different lineups and groupings. It looks confusing to me, and it is probably confusing to the players.

  • Dr . F9lh