The Celtics had ten turnovers through three quarters, and then seven in the final frame. They had built up enough of a lead to hold on for the win but that’s not going to cut it against contending teams with healthy rosters. So far, they’ve able to hold on and beat the Magic and the Clippers playing this way. While it’s true that the game would have likely been a lot different had Chris Paul played, it’s important to remember that the Magic didn’t have their full compliment of players either. Taking their foot off the gas is just not sustainable. I hope that ends at two games, and Doc Rivers agrees: “We stopped playing. We stopped playing. You could see it in the third quarter. It’s back-to-back games, and I told our guys that. I hate as a coach when you’re telling them that and they’re agreeing with you after the game, and we still did it. That’s back-to-back games where we were playing really good basketball. We were pressuring, we were getting up the floor, we were playing in space, our offense was early clock – and we get into the third quarter in the middle of it and all of a sudden they’re scoring in five seconds, we’re walking the ball off the floor. And I’m trying to tell them, ‘That’s not who we are. We can’t be that anymore. We just can’t. We can’t play that way.’” It must be both frustrating and relieving to see a team lose focus, allow their lead to dwindle, and then end up winning the game.
The Celtics limited the Clippers to ten points in the second quarter. While the Clippers’ franchise is no stranger to low scoring quarters, the credit really goes to the Celtics’ defense. Everyone pitched in, crashed the glass, closed out on shooters and rotated defensively. The Celtics forced the Clippers to take tough shots which resulted in fast-breaks launched off of rebounded airballs. Seven of the C’s 26 points in the second quarter were fastbreak points. It was a sight to behold.
During the CLNS/CelticsBlog Garden Report after the Magic game, Evans Clinchy, Jared Weiss, and I all joked about how the Celtics weren’t going to get 56 points in the paint against the Clippers. LA’s frontline is just too formidable. We were, of course, right. The C’s only managed 30 points in the paint. However, what’s encouraging is that the Celtics were still able to build massive leads despite not being as successful going to the basket. The C’s motion offense is allowing them to attack the rim and converting there doesn’t automatically dictate the C’s success. This is due in large part to the the type of versatile players the C’s have at their disposal. On Friday, the Celtics were able to convert against the Magic. Today, they turned that type of dribble penetration into three point shots (the C’s were11/18 from beyond the arc).
The Celtics bench scored 50 points tonight. Leandro Barbosa and Jeff Green led the way with 14 while Jason Terry chipped in 13. Hell, even Jason Collins was able to finish with seven. Against the Magic, the C’s were able to win by converting shots from the painted area. Today, the C’s downed the Clippers with the help of their bench. It seems we’ll continue to see a lack of consistency in the C’s success without Rajon Rondo or Jared Sullinger.
It’s not everyday that the officials get something right and today, they did a great job analyzing the two potential flagrant fouls on the Clippers and making the right calls. The foul where Ronny Turiaf grabbed Barbosa and spun him down was exacerbated by how Barbosa tried to finish the layup. To me, it also looked like Turiaf grabbed Babosa by the shoulder, and not his neck, which would have led to the officials decision to not call a flagrant.
The Matt Barnes’ shove on Kevin Garnettwas a situation where Garnett tried to exploit Barnes’ reputation for indiscriminately doling out flagrant fouls. I wouldn’t be surprised if Garnett is warned based on the league’s new anti-flopping policy. It’s obvious that Barnes shoved Garnett and prevented him from cutting across the lane, but the foul was no harder than a regular personal.
We spend so much time bashing the officials, it’s important to point out situations in which they make the correct calls. And trust me, we want this type of officiating come playoff time. It will work in the C’s favor more often than not given the C’s physical brand of defense.