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Championless: Celtics 111, Hawks 123

 
Boston Celtics 111 Final
Recap | Box Score
123 Atlanta Hawks

Five Things We Saw

  1. This Celtics team, as currently constituted, is not a championship team. That can mean a couple of different things. It could mean that the C’s need new players or it could mean that they just need a change of attitude. I doubt losing like this- in double overtime and relinquishing a 27 point lead- will do anything to help the atmosphere of the locker room. Speaking of, that is probably the last place I’d want to be right now, but I also get debilitating second hand embarrassment.
  2. Every single young and athletic team in the league should go through their schedule, circle the Celtics, and think to themselves, “we’ll win if we run.” The Celtics can’t outrebound younger, athletic teams and they don’t have a prayer of defending guys that leak out in transition. The Hawks just out ran the Celtics in the second half. I don’t even want to think about Sunday’s game against the Heat.
  3. If I were a video coordinator for the Celtics, I would burn any evidence I had of the first half, save for maybe Atlanta’s three point shots. Atlanta nearly shot themselves out of this game by missing wide-open three pointers and the Celtics capitalizing on a poor shooting night. I’d even go as far as to isolate the third quarter and highlight every instance of lackluster defense, poor closeouts, and moments of bad effort. It’s painfully obvious that the Celtics thought they would coast to win this game. To make matters worse, this wasn’t an example where the Celtics realized that the Hawks weren’t going to lay down too late to do anything about it. They realized it in the 3rd quarter, and could not stop them. Instead, they built another lead in the fourth quarter and began coasting again.
  4. The Celtics have zero in the way of late game execution. The Paul Pierce Isolation play has gone from a bad option to a suicide mission.
  5. It’s such a shame to waste good offensive performances from Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Avery Bradley. We’ll get into that more in the grades, which will be up tomorrow.
  • Mark

    Don’t forget the Rondo triple double.

    • Nelow

      The only one who cares about triple doubles is Rondo and Danny (Danny so he can trade him for something other than an over-the-hill player or role player or another malcontent like Rondo who everyone just wants to ship out of town… like Rondo).

  • GowGow

    At this stage of the season I rather not have any stars in the team. Plays get too obvious, the element of surprise gets lost in the midst of repetition and every single role player get more and more frustrated. I feel stupid now for getting excited in that last posession when I saw Rondo running down the clock. I was anxious to see what they would come up with and then… then I saw everybody walking out to the three point line and Pierce extending his arms asking for the ball. I knew it was over. I knew we lost. An athletic Josh Smith against a struggling Paul Pierce at the end of an OT after a back-to-back in a night Pierce was -30. I was giving Doc the benefit of the doubt, but now, argh. So many alternatives. Why not play inside out and kick it to an open Terry? Or take advantage of the foul limit and give it to Green attacking the basket? Hell maybe a cut from Bradley? Or what about an 18 footer from Sullinger? Or a driving to the basket from Courtney Lee? SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Just draw a play! Why the laziness?

    But then again, if the team had played a little more defence and didn't let a 27 point lead vanish we wouldn't have had to give the ball to Pierce in a suicidal mission.

    • Banner18

      So many options. It really is a shame that this team throws them all out. and for what? An ongoing last possession error as Pierce throws up bricks on his iso. I said this a few days ago and no one seemed to agree: Pierce is the weakest link of this team. So much to say, that he is becoming a liability (like Bass) on both ends of the court to the point that he is becoming unplayable. I'm not even going to consider the possibility of trading Pierce because no team wants his ugly hero-ball play along with his contract. Instead, I'm just hoping that this team realizes their potential, and limits limits Pierce to 20 minutes a night. This may sound asinine, but really, do you think he can produce more within 20 or 35 mpg?

      • Phil725

        Pierce's contract is actually very nice. It's a pseudo-expiring because you can waive him prior to the start of next season and it's only guaranteed for 5mil (might be 4, but doesn't matter.) The contract actually appeals to a lot of teams because it allows you to add a good player while still shedding money/taking money/getting under the tax/cap, whatever you want to do. He's still a borderline all star, regardless of his scapegoat status as the highest profile guy on a struggling team. He's not gonna bring a huge haul, but he's a legitimate trade chip- unlike the rest of the players on the team except Rondo, Sullinger and Bradley.

        • Banner18

          Wasn't aware of the second half of his contract (just made an assumption of this season's). Thank you for the clarification. I also just read a post from Marc Stein; apparently their is talk of a Pierce inclusive trade. Pau comes to Boston, Paul goes to Memphis, and Gay goes to LA.

  • someguyinsac

    Wow! At halftime I get a call from one of my kids where things for the game look really great at that point and by the time I get back to the game, POOF!, it's another story.

    I don't even know what to say now other than happened tonight is mind boggling to me.

  • High Rollers

    "A. Sherrod Blakely ‏@SherrodbCSN

    #Celticstalk: 'When we get a lead, we start acting like we're the 2008 team. We're not. We haven't earned that right.'-#Celtics Doc Rivers"

    Yup. That's the plastic part. Well, with all these over-time games (and losses) we're giving ourselves plenty of opportunities to burn that right off. Do what you gotta do, Doc, but please get us into the playoffs.

    • elroz

      And the 2008 team had Posey, T Allen, Perkins, Powe, House …not talent guys, but gritty tough guys.

      This team has Green, Terry, Bass …

      enough said.

  • marcia

    I wasn’t going to watch the game but had a change of heart. There was a glimmer of hope only to be deeply disappointed again. Something needs to be done to shake this team up. I say get rid of bass, jet, and anybody else that’s not contributing. All I see is kg,rondo and sullinger. Time for BIG changes now!!

  • emg

    i predict we beat the Heat.

    • Vince

      The Miami Heat or the East Side High School Heat?

  • marcia

    The Lakers are playing well tonight. Why can’t the C’s.

    • c parks

      for a change lol

  • Phil725

    I haven't been able to watch the game (I'll catch the quick version tonight on CSN,) but I'm running out of things to say either way. I still think this team's ceiling is limited by how many players are capable of putting up a terrible game every night. If you get average performances from even one of guys like Pierce, Bass or Sully, you probably win.

    Hard for me to judge prior to seeing the game, but I'm starting to question all of these critiques of the team's effort. You can play as hard as you want, if you don't have the talent, you're not gonna win in the NBA.

  • chris m

    I just got back home from Phillips. I honestly need a break from this team and don’t plan on watching the Celtics or following them until after the All Star break. To have a 27 pt lead, then lose a 19 pt lead in 6 minutes against the f*cking Hawks, get settled and have a 98/90 lead with over 3 min left, then fail to score, get in OT, have another final shot but fail that test. When KG fouled out in OT2 it was over and my wife and I had to make the humiliating walk out of the arena to jeers from some of the NBA’s worst fans. EMBARRASSING.

    • CelticsBIG3

      Sure is. Hawk fans are the lousiest in the whole league.

  • Bill

    If they advance to the NBA finals by some rebirth or another rejuvenation and win then we say the Celts are championship material. But anytime prior to that happening forget trying to label them anything.

    • Vince

      So 10 teams in the Eastern Conf are disbanding?

  • KillerGymRat

    That was heartbreaking.

    But honestly for me, I'm putting this loss on Doc. Yes the effort was crap in the second half, but you have to see things as a coach and adjust if needed. It's really your responsibility to put players on the floor and make adjustments when things aren't working and I didn't see that tonight.

    For example, it was obvious Bass was a defensive liability this game. In the first half Doc reacted quickly after Bass caused 2 easy baskets around the rim and pulled him for Collins (sadly an improvement). We then go on a huge run, which though the Hawks shot poorly, it was really the result of Green, Terry and Lee hitting the shots they've been missing which kept Atlanta from ever getting out an running.

    But then Korver comes in. He starts hitting 3's and Doc doesn't adjust or pull the guys who keep going UNDER the screens instead of fighting over. This continues in the second half and for whatever reason, Doc puts Bass back in, and never uses Collins again. Bass' terrible D leads to an endless string of easy layups. Then the team panics and Bass chucks bad shuts. Pierce chucks bad shots. Rondo forced bad passes and suddenly everybody in Green forgets Korver is a deadeye 3 point shooter.

    A 19 point run by Atlanta…but no line up changes. Bass stays out missing jumpers and killing us on D. And he doesn't put Avery out there on Korver. Nope he lets the team degrade into hero ball with forced shots from Sully (who joined the hero ball party tonight), Pierce and KG.

    It was obvious Korver had it going big time, but we never adjusted and he kept Atlanta in the game.

    The biggest coaching error was you could see the team was gassed by the end of the 4th. But still they made a push and went up 10 points with just under 3 minutes remaining.

    So Doc's response, leave all the tired guys out there, don't use Green who finally played a really great game on both ends of the floor, and don't use Terry who is finally hitting the open shots… nope go to iso with Pierce who never had it going and most of all… don't take a time out and emphasize clock management or that anyone but Korver should shoot.

    Thirty seconds later, Korver has hit back to back 3's while we turned the ball over with bad early shots.

    He Doc. We're up 10 with over 2 minutes left. Korver is red hot and all Atlanta is running is screens to free him up and giving him the ball…every…single…time. And guess what. We can't stop it. So accept this and consider that Atlanta just happens to have one of the NBA's worst free throw shooters on the floor. How about Hack-A-Smith. You want to cool off Korver…never let him see the ball. I would have worked the clock for the best shot possible, then fouled Smith and forced him to hack away at the lead until the 2 minute mark. I'll trade free throws with that guy anyday. It would've taken the team Atlanta out of rhythm and put Atlanta in the position of having to foul.

    Then…when it was under 2 minutes…guess what? Smith handles the ball pretty much every time. I keep fouling him and running clock. It's ugly basketball. But this team needed a win and it was totally one he could have coached us to.

    This game should have never seen overtime, let alone 2. And seriously, does Doc think an iso of Pierce against Josh Smith is a good idea…ever…let alone to close out a game we really needed to win.

    Doc, this loss is on you.

    • KillerGymRat

      To make it even more obvious:

      Pierce (40 mins) -30
      KG (38 mins) -19
      Bass (18 mins) -7
      AB (28 mins) -22
      RR (44 mins) -20

      Collins (13 mins) +20
      Green (30 mins) +9
      Terry (21 mins) +7
      Lee (25 mins) +10

    • KillerGymRat

      To make it even more obvious:

      Pierce (40 mins) -30
      KG (38 mins) -19
      Bass (18 mins) -7
      AB (28 mins) -22
      RR (44 mins) -20

      Collins (13 mins) plus 20
      Green (30 mins) plus 9
      Terry (21 mins) plus 7
      Lee (25 mins) plus 10

      • Nelow

        You nailed it. Look at the +/- for the starters in last night's game. As bad as this group is, I would bring up Melo and start him, start Green and Sullinger, Bradley and ugh! Rondo (until he's gone which is soon, hopefully). Bring PP and Garnett off the bench. They're gonna lose anyway so give the kids a chance and let the fans have a good time watching the kids and maybe we'll get into the lottery and get lucky finding a young talented player around whom we can start rebuilding this franchise. This team, as currently constituted, is a below-average team and will struggle to make the playoffs. Championship? Come on, people.

  • Phil725

    Jeez, I'm watching the third quarter collapse right now. The only remarkable thing about it is how familiar it looks. How can any team have such a lack of killer instinct? There are serious mental strength problems with this team that almost worry me as much as some of the shooting days.

  • SeanM

    I got to agree with you Gym, the Pierce ISP plays at the end of every close game just doesn’t work anymore. Doc needs to develops his new players and create some new end game plays, it would throw the rest of the league right off because everyone see the Pierce hero ball coming a mile away. Maybe it’s time to decoy Pierce, at least try that and see what happens right? I love Doc, I think he’s a helluva coach, but he is just as much if not more to blame as the players he’s running.
    Six straight now and tomorrow is the rematch with the Heat which I’m predicting we get eaten alive.
    I love my Celtics, I always have since I was a whee lil lad, and I just hate to see them flounder like this with so much talent on the floor.

    • Phil725

      The Pierce ISO fake worked to hit the almost game winning shot against the Bulls in OT. Terry screened for Pierce and both guys went for him since, as you mention, the Cs playbook late has 1 play. Pierce kicked the ball to Terry though, and he hit a wide open ~15 footer to take the lead. Bellinelli ruined that of course, but it has worked recently. I think we'd all love to see more creativity and ball movement late.

  • SeanM

    I got to agree with you Gym, the Pierce ISO plays at the end of every close game just doesn’t work anymore. Doc needs to develops his new players and create some new end game plays, it would throw the rest of the league right off because everyone see the Pierce hero ball coming a mile away. Maybe it’s time to decoy Pierce, at least try that and see what happens right? I love Doc, I think he’s a helluva coach, but he is just as much if not more to blame as the players he’s running.
    Six straight now and tomorrow is the rematch with the Heat which I’m predicting we get eaten alive.
    I love my Celtics, I always have since I was a whee lil lad, and I just hate to see them flounder like this with so much talent on the floor.

  • elroz

    The Celtics cannot defend transition or fast break because they have no young players – Bass, Bradley, Rondo, Green, Sullinger, Lee…these are old guys…

    they need younger guys – high school age, right?

  • Swissflix

    We need Dino Radja back *sarcasm*

  • Kafel

    I said it before: big part of blame is on Doc. He has what he wanted on his team and he has talented players, but for some reason it hasn't click yet. This loss imo was the worst of the season. There is no Celtics pride in this team right now.

  • nelow

    At this stage in his career Pierce is not a legit starting SF. KG ditto wherever he plays. Bass is awful and probably wouldn't see much PT on most other teams, let alone start. Rondo is the second coming of Roger Clemons, more interested in his personal stats than the results and he never, NEVER plays D. What do you expect from this team? This is not a good team and no matter what you say about turning it around they simply don't have the talent. It's unfair to expect any different results than what we're seeing. This team will be lucky to finish at .500, let alone compete for a title. Major roster changes are needed and it should start with getting rid of the brooding, selfish, highly overrated Rondo. And do it soon before the rest of the league realizes he's just a pile of stats and hype but an otherwise average player. The longer Danny waits to trade Rondo the less he will get for him in return. Next, bench or trade Bass. Sit PP and bring him off the bench for a spirited 10-15 minutes a game. The problem is, if you sit Bass and Pierce, who plays? Sullinger is fun to watch but he's one-dimensional (rebounding) and gets destroyed by long post players. Green is so soft I could use him for a pillow. So who plays if we sit PP and Bass? Collins shouldn't be in the league. Terry is… well what is he? He's certainly not the player he once was. AB is gritty but is he a starter on contending teams? No. Lee's a role player. So who do you go to on this team? Nobody, and that's why we are not a very good NBA team. I think we need to get ready for five years of Tony Battie, Antoine Walker, Dino Radja, Joe Forte et al. I'm afraid that's what's in the immediate future C fans. Brace yourselves.

  • GowGow

    I'm just intrigue why they rather have Collins who shouldn't be in the league instead of develop Fab Melo.

    They don't trust rookies, they just don't get it. They didn't want to play Rondo in his rookie year. Bradley didn't have a real chance to play until #20 had an injury. And they were forced to play Sullinger. They have all turned to be part of the rotation. Why not throw in a D-League double double young guy to see what happens?

  • KGfan

    trade doc rivers!

    • Nelow

      It's not Doc's fault. You saw how effectively he can coach if he has players. Nobody could make this team what it isn't… a competitive contender. Doc doesn't have the players. You think Phil Jackson could do any better with this cast of over over-the-hill stars, unproven youngsters and overrated role players? Look at this team. And when you have a point like Rondo, you're in real trouble. Watch Rondo play. Watch him coast on D… actually hang around while others try to man up. Watch his man get open shots and cuts to the basket. Watch Rondo on offense. Watch him stand around when he doesn't have the ball in his hands. He seems disinterested. Is he a top-three PG in the league? Not even close. He's flashy, gets big stats, but he loses. That's the true measure of a great player. Rondo is not a great player. He could be, but his mental composition is hardly something to build on. If this is Rondo's team, we are in trouble. Oh wait. It is his team, and yes, we are in trouble. Trade him! But it's not Doc's fault.

  • Switcharoo

    Wow Nelow you think we have enough Rondo rant in this thread now? A lot of fans are unhappy with this teams performance but wow. Say the Celtics did ship Rondo, who would you replace him with; just curious. And I. Just need a quick answer not another tirade.

    • Phil725

      This is how it works in professional sports though; when you're winning, only your positives are focused on, you get all the benefit of the doubt, and everyone loves you. Change the W to a L and suddenly you suck. The truth is somewhere in between obviously, but if this team continues to lose, be ready to hear tons of scapegoating and fans turning on players (and Doc/Danny, though that already started) over the next few months.

      As far as trading Rondo, I'd almost rather blow it up completely (bring in a big expiring like Al Jefferson and let him walk,) rather than try and get back someone to replace him, since I don't think you can. Make sure you shed Green and Bass' dead money in the deal and get back players with upside and some (not in the 20s) draft picks. You suddenly have loads of cap room after two years. Without KG, this team is basically the Suns, right (10th pick every year)? That's the last place you want to be, so I understand wanting to trade Rondo. I just don't see you getting anyone comparable back.

      • Phil725

        I'm really starting to like the ESPN trade machine. It's easy to say blowing it up is the best option, but it helps to actually look at the names. This is the kind of deal I'd be looking for if I traded Rondo: http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=akggn… *note, I'm not saying they should trade Rondo/Pierce, just that this is the best you're doing if blowing it up outside of Cousins magically reappearing on the table.

        The Jazz probably turn that deal down (that's a lot of dead money to take back if they're giving up Jefferson and Millsap.) I'm factoring in that they probably know that Jefferson sucks though, and they do get the best player in the deal. I'm not sure where it puts them on the tax, but they could always make an additional deal. I like it from the other 3 teams' perspectives though. The Raptors get out of Bargnani's deal and get a player who might be able to carry them to their ultimate goal of the 8 seed, and they can cut bait with Pierce next year if they'd rather have the cap room. Valanciunas is a heavy price to pay, but taking advantage of a GM who has to make a splash/save his job is nothing new. Cleveland gets Millsap for facilitating, and they could throw a draft pick or two from their big stock pile to whatever team needs it to get the deal done.

        The Cs get two young pieces and clear a ton of money going forward. The team looks pretty solid this year too, even with Jefferson probably cancelling out KG's defense. Calderon probably has similar fit options with the offense that Rondo does, but I love Hayward's potential fit. The Cs would likely move another SG in a later deal I'd think.

  • tbunny

    Uh, hopefully not just Josh Smith.

  • Art

    Trade Paul Pierce and Jason Terry for Pau Gasol. Start Green, move Bass to the bench. This team started losing its edge when they lost Posey, followed by Thibodeaux and then trading away Perkins. KG gets older, you move him to center and ask him to do more for this team? would love to see Delonte West back. Is Wilcox still hurt or has he fallen out of Doc's rotation? enough of the Paul Pierce isolation turn-over plays already!

  • IBleedGreen

    "[Rajon] Rondo can change the game when he's engaged, but … let's just say he's always very aware of his stats. And it's very evident from where I sit that he's playing for steals and assists sometimes instead of making the winning play or the easier play or defending his guy like he should.“

  • High Rollers

    If the rumor regarding Pierce, Gasol, and Gay being swapped for each other turns out to be true, tomorrow will be the final contest between the New Big Three and the Benedict Heatles. Our vomit inducing six game slide notwithstanding, tomorrow should be savored. High noon at the Not So Okay Corral.

    • Phil725

      I'm finding very little substance to that rumor, seems like your standard internet made up stuff. I wouldn't pay any attention to it. That said, I certainly wouldn't rule out an eventual trade, so still possible it's the last matchup. We should all be savoring what we have left of the Pierce/KG era regardless.

  • High Rollers

    I was definitely put off by Brandon Bass’ comments regarding his situation. Poor performance and frustration are one thing, but blaming lack of touches and playing time is unacceptable.

  • High Rollers

    Indeed.

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